Monday, February 25, 2008

Remembering The Fox

One of my favorite bloggers, Rebecca Crowell, wrote in a recent blog entry on the subject of artworks that were influential to her when she was growing up.

This made me think about the art that influenced me. I didn't really discover "fine" art until I was in college, but the images from many of the books I loved as a child are clearly fixed in my memory.

When I was 3 or 4, somewhere in there, I loved Peter Spier's "The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night," an illustrated version of the familiar folk song published in 1961 (example page shown above). My mother used to hold me on her lap and sing me the song as we read through the book at bedtime.

It seems that children's books these days always have splashy designs and over-the-top colors. I guess the publishers think they have to hit kids over the head to stimulate their imagination. But Spier's simple line drawings captivated me with their detail and their apt depiction of an expansive environment.

Perhaps the early experience of seeing these beautiful, descriptive lines influenced my love of line as an artist?

Odetta recorded a great version of this song, but I still prefer my mother's rendition.


Rebecca Crowell said...

Hey Catherine, thanks for the mention! This is a fun topic to read about...I agree that plain line drawings can have a huge impact. Some of the ones I recall from childhood are the original Alice in Wonderland and the original Winnie the Pooh drawings (both are so much more compelling than the Disney versions.)
Actually when I start remembering, I could go on and on!

Kate Beck said...

I have a similar experience, Catherine. I grew up being read to from older books in my grandparent's home -- where I lived. The 'My Book House' volumes were favorites and a thin little book 'Prayers and Graces for Small Children' illustrated by Marguerite d'Angeli, 1941, really made an impact. You can see on some pages where I tried to replicate the simple line drawings with my own pencil. It is the first time I remember my heart beating faster while looking at sensitive drawings. And I wanted to draw, too.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you for stirring up these great memories with your blog entry, Rebecca! I too loved the original Pooh books and "Now We Are Six," etc. by Milne.

Kate, those sound like charming books that you grew up with. Those experiences really do make little hearts beat faster, don't they?