Illustrious Illustrators #2 Quentin Blake & E. H. Shepard

I’m a huge fan of illustrated books: from children’s classics to adult fiction, illustrations often make me love a book even more. I do not love every illustrator’s style, but over the years I have found some illustrators (who are sometimes also writers) that make my heart flutter a little. In the first instalment I’ve introduced you to Carson Ellis and Thé Tjong King and this week I’ll discuss the works of Quentin Blake and E. H. Shepard!

Sir Quentin Blake (1932)
Blake is probably most known for his illustrations of Roald Dahl’s books. His drawings sir-quentin-blakehave created Charlie Bucket, James Henry Trotter, Matilda and Sophie and of course also the fantastic Mr. Wonka, the spoiled Veruca Salt, the horrible Witches and the wonderful Big Friendly Giant. In 2002 he won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, biennal literary award that is rewarded to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. It is the most prestigious award for illustrators out there. Blake has also written children’s books himself, amongst which are Mister Magnolia (1980) and the Mrs. Armitage books. I’ve never read his own books, although they have been on my BookDepository wish list for ages, but they look as amazing as does his other work.

His drawings look like they have been sketched in just a few seconds, but on his website Blake explains that there is a lot more to it. His work has a flamboyant style: colourful, sketchy lines and a lot of movement characterises his art. Dahl’s books are so much intertwined with his drawings that I cannot see Charlie or the BFG other than how Dahl has described and Blake has illustrated them. I like the ‘roughness’ of the lines, the pops of colour and his great eyes for detail. See for yourself!

Do visit Blake’s website!

E. H. Shepard (1879-1976)
What Blake’s drawings did for Dahl’s books did Shepard for A. A. Milne’s and Kenneth e-h-shepardGrahame’s. He gave the anthropomorphised characters of Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Mr. Toad an Mole their distinctive look. It is said that later in his career, Shepard resented having drawn Winnie-the-Pooh because it overshadowed everything else he had done. Nevertheless, his work has helped shaping two English classics and many grew up with Shepard’s Winnie-the-Pooh or Mr. Toad.

Shepard’s style is, just like Blake’s, a little rough. Again, it is probably the result of much planning and sketching, but the final illustration still looks like it had just been drawn by Shepard. At the same time, Shepard’s drawings are more detailed than Blake’s. Not in accuracy and professionalism, but in surroundings and scene. Textures, twigs and branches: he has captured it all in small strokes and lines. I think this is especially the case in his drawings for The Wind in the Willows. Note the precision with which he has drawn Mole and Rat, without it being naturalistic or a photograph. The drawings are both realistic and imaginary …

So, that’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think of both Blake and Shepard!

Amber Linde

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