Saturday, January 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Brian Wildsmith!

Yeeaaa! One of the greatest living children’s illustrators, innovator of children’s picture books, Brian Wildsmith was born today in 1930, so much joy for children and adults around the globe. A son of a miner, he grew up in a small mining village in Yorkshire, England, where everything was grey. He was poor like everyone else in the village, so it didn’t much matter. “Everything was grey. There wasn’t any colour. It was all up to my imagination. I had to draw in my head...”

The imagination, against all odds, was, indeed, the source of inspiration that made him who he is today. He won a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art where he studied for three years. But teachers at the school would not let him paint what he imagined. “They’d try and make you paint like them.” But he wants to make children “want to paint. Not to copy, but to think” (Interview in Book Trust). For a while he taught music at the Royal Military School of Music, but then gave it up so that he could paint full time. In 1962, he published his first children’s book, ABC, for which he was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal, Britain’s equivalent to the Caldecott Medal.
In 1994, the Brian Wildsmith Art Museum was established in Izukogen, a town south of Tokyo, Japan, and when the Fuji Art Museum in Tokyo hosted a traveling exhibition of his work in 2004, almost one and a half million people visited the museum.

“I believe that beautiful picture books are vitally important in subconsciously forming a child’s visual appreciation, which will bear fruit in later life,” says Brian Wildsmith. When asked why so much details in his illustrations, he assures us saying “I believe children appreciate details as well as color. I want to help young people wonder at the world and to become close observers of the beauty and harmony in nature.”

I wish I could see how your brush strokes are rendered on the white canvas, that lead us to a world of imagination. Happy Birthday, Brian Wildsmith! I am going to dive into your wonder of color all day long, here in New England, where everything is white, and below zero cold.
Dear readers, visit the Brian Wildsmith Website, where little birds from colorful bushes welcome you, flapping hard their tiny wings.

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