All these manifestations are more impressive for their
component parts working together to make a unit, still each part having its own
importance. One thing built upon another to give life form. Drawings on cave walls from
the beginning of time caught the simple reality of primeval life because of an intense
closeness to nature. The first stories of man everywhere in the world grew out of that
ability to see and hear and feel with the simple intensity of children.
There are times
in illustrating when the artist of today must rub his nose against the reality of things
and try to catch with the honesty of a child a yellow sun like a pat of butter in the sky,
with clouds of cottage cheese and the smoke of boats flying in all directions, with no
concern for north or east. Houses with windows gaping and people like raisins on the
street, a fire engine tearing off the page and a policeman stopping everything.
We experimented with color for sound and shapes for emotion, letting the child bring
the magic of movement, in a series of Noisy books. So that a radiator would be placed in a
shape suggested by the hissing noise it makes, and the round sound of a ticking clock
would put it into a circle.
Audubon, for me, is a fine example of a more formal approach to illustrating. In one of
his pictures, a "White Bellied Booby", somewhat resembling a penguin, sits on a
stump with a view of his natural habitat telescoped beneath his legs. Because of a sense
of drama with a slight distortion of detail this illustration is more effective, and the
Booby still has every feather in place. To what degree illustration should carry this
ambiguity is perhaps a matter of age level and the kind of writing to be illustrated.
Some reliable source quotes "The success of an illustration lies in the
instinctive transference of an idea from one medium to
another. And the more spontaneous it be and the less labored in application, the better."