Paging Imagination: The Art of Picture Books

Students and visitors to the Lakeshore Campus got to peek into the world of the designers and illustrators who coloured their childhoods at Paging Imagination: The Art of Picture Books last Friday.

The works of illustrators like Michael Martchenko (known for his longstanding partnership with author Robert Munsch), Barbara Reid, Oleg Lipchenko, David Anderson and many others were on prominent display in the L Space Gallery, with each piece accompanied by the artist’s preliminary sketches.

Illustrator Michele Nidenoff said showing readers her creative process lends a sense of context to the final product.

“Otherwise they think that you just sit down and do that,” said Nidenoff, pointing to one of her finished pieces. “I think it’s good for people to see your thought process.”

Nidenoff talked about the importance of children’s books and their accompanying artwork when she was younger.

“There was one book I had, I don’t remember the name of the illustrator, called ‘Humpty Dumpty and the Princess’,” she said. “It was really quite a lovely and fanciful book, and the illustrations were beautiful.”

Cartoonist and illustrator David Anderson said that picture books were an important part of his development when he was a child.

“The ones that I really enjoyed were the Brother Rabbit stories,” said Anderson. “They were almost like American folk tales. They were short and funny, and they were well illustrated.”

All of the artists showcased are members of the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP), who hosted the event.

Helena Aalto, CANSCAIP’s administrative director was excited by the turnout.

“Over a hundred people have come through the gallery so far,” Aalto said. “People have been coming from across the city.”

Aalto talked about the many different mediums through which the illustrators craft their works.

“Some of the artists work digitally, others use watercolour, some use acrylics, oil paints,” she said.

Aalto said a few of them have honed their craft with less conventional tools.

“Gavy Swan uses plasticine called Sculpey, which can be painted and baked, Sue Todd uses linocut, which is linoleum that you carve out,” said Aalto.

The gallery opened on November 10, and will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday, November 20.

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