“And gladly would he learn…”

by Alden Cole on March 11, 2014 · 0 comments

36WPI made the statement a few days ago that no drawings by my hand exist between the creation of the skinny yellow clown drawn at age nine, which I posted January 12, and my drawings for As You Like It done at age fourteen, which I posted February 24. I lied. A small 4″ x 6″ pencil drawing survived — the only one of many drawn — in a book attached to the page printed with the illustration that inspired it, shown at left. I was probably about 11 when I copied it. If you look closely, you’ll see that I did not trace the figure I was emulating, I drew it free hand and slightly smaller. The original was by Armstrong Sperry (1897-1976), a mid 20th century artist, whose illustrations for Hiawatha — not the Longfellow poem, but a prose version adapted by Allen Chaffee — were published in 1951 in a 64-page book with illustrations in either b&w or color on virtually every page.

0CoverWPThat Christmas 1951 my grandmother gifted me with a copy of the book. I was seven, in second grade, learning to read. The numerous illustrations were seminal to my development as an artist, as anyone who knows my work well could see if they were to peruse the pages of my worn copy. A few examples of Sperry’s influential illustrations follow:

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