When I wrote my last post for this blog, I had just moved out of our rented home in London. With most of our belongings headed to Seattle in a shipping container, my husband, daughter and I felt like tourists again.
Until two days ago, when we flew back home. My re-acclimation to American life has begun. But, for my next couple of posts I will be returning to London (in spirit at least) to write more about my visits (I went back a second time before I left) to the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Prints and Drawings Study Rooms.
The V & A has most of the original drawings by E. H. Shepard for A. A. Milne’s Pooh series. My mother used to read to me from Milne’s Now We are Six when I was young (the book made turning six sound very grown up) and I still hear my mother’s voice when I read it now.
“Well? Have you been a good girl, Jane?”. . .
I was able to request several boxes of Shepard’s sketches. The drawings are all in pencil on the pages of a 9″ X 14″ sketchbook.
Shepard’s lines are fluid and confident.
I like to see where he tried different options and erased or crossed out some.
It’s also interesting to compare these drawings to the finished art from the published books.
Sometimes Shephard draws many lines till he finds the right ones (I can relate to that).
On the sketches that were accepted for the final illustrations, you can see that Shepard rubbed a graphite pencil across the back and then traced over the image to transfer it to his drawing board.
Shepard seems to enjoy drawing trees, especially the grand, gnarled ones.
And of course, bears.
When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.
When I was Four
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six new for ever and ever.
Oh, that was divine! Beneath all the sweetness and whimsy of his drawings, you can see Shepard had a really strong grasp of anatomy. He understood the way kids fidget and squirm away from stern grown-ups, with their endless interrogations! “And have you been a good girl?” How I used to hate that!
Shepard is so deft at capturing the curve of the back of a neck, or a chubby little knee. Such a joy to see these sketches – so thank you, Margaret. I only recently found out that his daughter was Mary Shepard, the charming illustrator of the Mary Poppins books – such a brilliantly talented family.
Thank you, these are so fun, so refreshing, so hopeful.
Fantastic sketches! Great fun to see your work.
Thank you for these marvelous drawings! I love Shepard’s work.
Shepard is my most favorite of the illustrators I discovered as a child. and these sketches are so wonderful. I am going to investigate seeing them in real life when I go to London.
Thanks so much to sharing these, and welcome back to Seattle.
Thank you for the welcome back, Head Woozle!
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