Friday, April 13, 2012

Illustrators of Children’s Books – the Best of the Best

It has been said that illustrations are literature, even without the words. With or without text, illustrations may sharpen a child’s perception, stimulate imagination, and make them aware of their surroundings. Add humor which increases a child’s enjoyment or attachment to a book, and this connection may last a lifetime.

Some of the finest artists in the world are illustrators of children’s books. Pictures that appeal to children must be colorful, oftentimes humorous, detailed, and depending on the purpose of the book and the age level of the child full of imagination and wonder.

Illustrators for children must think outside the box and appeal to the senses. It requires a highly sensitive nature and an ability to laugh at life and the paradoxes within it. Life is not always as it seems. There are inconsistencies and incongruence’s that don’t often make sense. Turning these situations into fun and seeing them in a new light may make a child’s life seem less threatening.

I remember as a child relishing the colorful paintings in a favorite book and studying every detail. I loved finding new things I hadn’t discovered before. Details are important. Every element placed in an illustration adds information and delight to young readers.

Repetition helps desired information sink in and may add some fun as a child discovers that an animal he has just learned about is hopping or bouncing from page to page. By the time the book is finished he has learned a new name, recognizes a new animal, and has interacted in play across the pages.

Artwork for older children may be more detailed, more sophisticated. The artwork and text may deal with more complex feelings like fear, separation, loneliness or death. Once children are able to deal with these emotions, they are ready to face their fears head on and enjoy scary illustrations with imaginary monsters and treacherous journeys that the hero or heroine conquers successfully.

Illustrations for children are more than colorful, pretty paintings. They are tools for education, celebration, and fun. They are a means for teaching children how to deal with serious issues in their lives where the outcomes are positive. Children’s illustrations may also take the edge off of sadness and pain by providing an outlet for fun and whimsy. They can reassure a child that there is balance, beauty and harmony in the world.

Most illustrators create from imagination and allow their minds to run wild while they explore the essence and the purpose of a story line. Their unharnessed minds become childlike as they answer the “what ifs” and “how comes” through line, color, and movement. Characters are fashioned, actions are defined, and stories unfold in unique and carefully planned ways.

Too often unrecognized, illustrations and paintings prepared for children contain some of the most remarkable and amazing artwork produced in the world.

Illustrations in this blog come from my book: "Inez Ibis Flies Again; the story of a courageous Ibis who never gave up." Click on the book icon in the right hand column.