Thursday, 4 November 2010

E.H. Shepard: The Man Who Drew Pooh

I briefly mentioned E.H. Shepard in a post I wrote about Hayao Miyazaki here in 2009. E.H. Shepard was an English artist and book illustrator who is probably best known for the illustrations he did for A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh" series of books, which were published in the late 1920's. Shepard's drawings are charming, delicate, and exhibit an incredible facility in draftsmanship.

I recently purchased a book about him called "E.H. Shepard, The Man Who Drew Pooh" by Arthur R. Chandler. I haven't had the chance to read much of the book yet, but the text seems to be mostly focused on cataloguing the chronological events of E.H. Shepard's life and career. There might be a few gems of artistic knowledge or insightful quotes by Mr. Shepard in the book, but I haven't found them yet. However, one thing is for sure, the book is filled with quite a bit of his drawings which are definitely worth seeing for anyone who likes Shepard's work. I scanned in a few drawings from the book and would like to share them here.

This first drawing is titled Man with wheelbarrow, a pencil sketch done in 1924. It's a fantastic drawing, no analyzation needed really. It's well observed and beautifully drawn.

I apologize if the recent theme of my posts have been too centered around observational sketching/Life Drawing, which can seem like a boring subject, but it's a subject that I've been inspired by this year and I think it's something that we all could do a bit more of. Observation helps to inform our work and hopefully keeps us from being formulaic.

This next illustration is a Christmas card that Shepard made in 1943. There's a lot of great things going on in this illustration. The design and use of black space versus empty white space, and the patterns and textures he has used to create the "grey" areas, but I especially love the figure of the soldier holding the gun on Santa. It's a tremendous drawing.

Next I scanned a couple of rough sketches that Shepard did for The Secret Garden. It's nice to see some more pencil drawings, as opposed to the more common ink drawings, from him and to get an insight into his illustration process. The figures are beautiful, but I also admire how he indicated the backgrounds. There's a nice tree/grass vignette behind the girl in the first image, as well as another wonderfully rough and simple indication of the door and long gallery stretching beyond her in the second image.

Last but not least, here's a couple more charming observational drawings that Shepard sketched of a woman on a train. Again in pencil.

There's a lot more drawings than these in the book, but I wanted to present a few here that I thought were especially nice. I'll try to do another post later on Shepard and a few of his children's book illustrations from some of the less well known titles.

Maybe I have mentioned this before, but hopefully you might have noticed that I've been presenting the artwork on these posts in the 8 1/2" x 11" format where possible. So if you find something inspiring you can easily print it out. I am a little less busy at work now, so I expect I can do a few more posts on some other interesting books that I've picked up recently before the end of the year. Stay tuned.