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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Golden Ones


My mind is all wrapped up in moving at the moment, but I did take the time last weekend to go to the Newberry Library Book Fair. Some of what I purchased is "work" oriented—a book to disassemble for postcards, and a directory of art markets, but I also completed my collection of large format picture books about mythical creatures and discovered a book I loved in my childhood titled The Ghost Next Door. Upon rereading it, I noticed just how lovely the illustrations in it are; so I've done some research on the illustrator, Trina Schart Hyman.
She was born in Philadelphia in 1939 and studied at Philadelphia College of Art, the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, and the School for Applied Art in Stockholm, Sweden. I read a lot about her personal struggles, being a divorced, single mom and an illustrator are two of the hardest jobs in the world and she did both. She won a Caldecott medal and three Caldecott honors for her work. She also worked as the art director for Cricket magazine, a children's' literature magazine that I read voraciously when I was young. Her name probably isn't one you immediately recognize, but I can almost guarantee that if you review the list of books you loved from childhood, at least one will have been illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.


I was really intrigued to find out her working style. She didn't do thumbnails; she worked actual size on illustration board in pencil until her drawing was perfected, and then she would ink the drawing with a brush. My favorite works of hers are done with this technique, but she also did color works using acrylic paints thinned down into watercolor-like glazes and oil paintings. Her personal favorite artists are the great book illustrators of the early 1900s: Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Howard Pyle, and the Pre-Raphaelites.
I would have loved to have gotten really ambitious with this posting and actually interviewed Ms. Hyman, but she unfortunately has passed away. I am grateful for an interview I read by Denise Ortkales which filled in a lot of my blanks and really represented Trina Schart Hyman very well. It was almost as good as talking to her myself. Once I've moved in to my new place, I'd like to start a monthly artist spotlight here if only for my edification.