Having More Fun

Merry Widow Merry Widow Persistent Faces - William Steig

Merry Widow
Persistent Faces – William Steig

I enjoyed posting some of my favorite fun picture book illustrations so much last month that I am revisiting the topic this week, only this time, I am pulling some well-loved images from sources outside of children’s books – more artists whose work conveys humor and playfulness.

william steig_putty

Putty
Persistent Faces – William Steig

Many of these images have a doodle-like quality. The topic of doodling deserves an entire post of its own, which maybe I will write someday, but I think doodling has a universal appeal because of its apparent fearless exploration of goofiness.

Sphinx - Saul Steinberg

Sphinx – Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg’s work has a sardonic wit.

March-April - Saul Steinberg

March-April – Saul Steinberg

Ben Shahn’s images laugh a little more quietly,

alastair reid Ben Shahn-Both Ways

Words That Read Both Ways
Ounce Dice Trice – Alastair Reid, illustrated by Ben Shahn

but still express a wise sense of humor.

alastair reid Ben Shahn-Bug Words

Bug Words
Ounce Dice Trice – Alastair Reid, illustrated by Ben Shahn

John Rombola I imagine sharing a cigarette with John Waters for some reason.

 Rombola by Rombola - John Rombola

Rombola by Rombola – John Rombola

 Rombola by Rombola - John Rombola

Rombola by Rombola – John Rombola

The circus also inspired Alexander Calder. The Seattle Art Museum had a Calder exhibit a few years ago. I don’t think a museum exhibit before or since has ever put me in such a happy mood.

Circus Lion - Alexander Calder

Circus Lion – Alexander Calder

Josephine Baker. Ooh la la and hallelujah.

Josephine Baker wire sculpture - Alexander Calder

Josephine Baker
wire sculpture – Alexander Calder

Even his large mobile sculptures evoke playfulness.

Yellow Whale  sculpture in wire and metal- Alexander Calder

Yellow Whale
Wire sculpture – Alexander Calder

Inuit art also seems to contain a lot of humor. What is it about all that ice and snow? The long summer days? The long winter nights?

The Enchanted Owl-Kenojuak

The Enchanted Owl – Kenojuak

Judas Ullulaq "Transformation"

Transformation
Inuit sculpture – Judas Ullulaq

And here is a contemporary Japanese printmaker continuing the 17th – 19th century tradition of Okubi-e (bust portraits of Kabuki actors).

tsuruya kokei_bando tamasaburo

Bando Tamasaburo V as Ochika in “Ikite iru Koheiji”- Tsuruya Kokei

When I was in Japan as a teenager I saw Tamasaburo perform. He is actually quite slender and graceful. I don’t know if Tsuruya Kokei intended parody or was just tweaking composition and form, but it’s makes Tamasaburo look like a high comedienne.

Below is a photo of a Panamanian mola that I bought a number of years ago. It is a modern take on a traditional art form. Usually the motifs include bird and animal forms. This is the only one I’ve seen about a hairstyle.

Mola - artist unknown

Mola – artist unknown

And in response to Julie Paschkis’s last Beastly post on this blog, here are a couple of my favorite prints by Jose Guadalupe Posada. Scary funny.

Sol en Escorpion - Jose Posada

Sol en Escorpion – Jose Posada

I think I spied one of these bicyclists the last time I was in Brooklyn.

Calaveras de Ciclistas - Jose Posada

Calaveras de Ciclistas – Jose Posada

And speaking of Julie Paschkis, here is a drawing she made on a piece of paper from my notebook while we were at an SCBWI talk many years ago. She is the Queen of doodlers and her work also makes me smile. I kept the drawing (it was my paper after all…) and it hangs in my studio to remind me to let loose and have more fun when I am working (and not get my neck all twisted around like that).

doodle in pen and ink - Julie Paschkis

doodle in pen and ink – Julie Paschkis

3 responses to “Having More Fun

  1. It just feels right that Hundertwasser might also be a welcome companion to the amazing artists above…

  2. Yes, absolutely! Thank you for the suggestion!

  3. The illustrations in here are exceptional. Thanks for posting this, so much talent from so many people.

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