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Sometimes you spend time looking at children’s books because there is a child in your life that you want to please, and sometimes you just want to please yourself.   Above is from an edition of the Wizard of Oz illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerther seen here.

Happily, books are alive and well in stores for kids, and  if  you go looking,  you will find in these little books the work of some of the most gifted and imaginative artists/illustrators/cartoonists from around the world. Above is from a recent book called ICE written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert who is very fond of little pigs, as are we. Read more here.

Above three books are just a sliver of Mr Geisert’s shelf of wonderful work, which has plenty of pig tales, but plenty of pigless wonders  too.  See more here.

Once you start down this path you will find yourself with a lot more than you bargained for.  If you could only have one, how would you choose between a pig tale by Arthur G or a rabbit tale by Komako  Sakai?

Ms Sakai is certainly something special.  Her simple stories and beautiful way with line and colour will fill your eyes and pinch your heart.  She has worked in the textile industry in Japan, they say. More about her books here.

Bears of course have a solid place in children’s stories too.   Thanks to Jon Klassen, there’s a new bear on the block and he wants something.

Nice review of Mr Klassen’s book in the NYT here

Along with creatures of the farm and the woods, book artists have found plenty of inspiration among the critters that become part of the household.

Like the wonderful Max brought to life by the wonderful Maira Kalman.  Go here

People who love picture books love them as much as other people love chocolate or ABBA–i.e. totally.  There are many wonderful websites with tons of these books to show you, including Children’s Illustration, which you’ll find and feast on here.

To send you off, we selected Paul Thurlby an artist from England who, among lots of other things, has made an amazing alphabet, which you’ll find on his site here.  Books and pictures, sentences and pictures, letters and pictures, they all go together like summer and running through the sprinkler.


Those of us who like to cook up a storm will lavish no end of attention on a meal. So it’s not surprising that the visual chefs of the world, the artists and designers, have turned their talents to the platforms we provide to serve up the goodies.  Picasso took to creating dishy plates fairly late in his career, and as usual he did it entirely his own way.  Above from him found here.

Mr P turned his hand to plate making over and over and generated a pile of amazing work, including this great one with a couple of dozen petit visages that was up for auction, reported by the London Telegraph. 

After he was done making all the plates, Picasso, always willing to help around the house, moved on to jugs like this cutie seen here.  (a previous RofL post had reason to present a fish jug by PP).

The creation and construction of wonderful plates for our food or just feasting our eyes has a long tradition and master practitioners in every era.  The above was made about 1460 somewhere in Spain and is now residing (see here) in the wonderful Musee des arts Decoratifs in Paris.

This swell bird (“Coq”) plate also lives in the Musee des arts Decoratifs (well worth a visit, we think). It is the work of Jacques Besnard in 1930. Find it here  and be sure to look around the site for much more.

You say plates, we say Fornasetti, namely Piero Fornasetti (1913 – 1988) the incomparable Italian designer who put his signature style–and often this particular woman’s face–on all sorts of household goods, including plates. They are still available and still much loved.  The three above can be had at Barney’s, go here.

Well, you take a current design star like David Chipperfield and ask him to create a line of dishes and cups for Alessi and here’s what you get: a lovely tribute to one of our favourite artists, Giorgio Morandi, seen here.   More on Mr Morandi in this NYT article.  More on Mr Chipperfield in the RofL library here.

The Dutch de stijl movement from the first half of the 20th century continues to inspire designers.  The above set of plates borrows–or steals, say the designers, London retailer Darkroom–the strong colour and shape from the movement, which was also applied to textiles and paper goods.  Found here.

This nifty plate is from a design by Nikolai Suetin done in the so-called Suprematist style in 1905, auctioned recently, and reported here.

When the world was black and white and the smart set chowed down in the living room wearing the same clothes they wore to the office, plates came in lots of shapes and sizes and colours to handle the new trends, like fondue, crab dip, and miniature marshmallow/pineapple cube salad.  Go back here.

Jetting back to our own time, we seem quite comfortable dishing food out on both the exquisite and the goofball, sometimes in the same meal.  This swedish bear plate found here.  What do you think you’d serve on that?  Gumballs and goat cheese croquettes?

And this from our youth is a fine depiction of the  magnificent Hopalong Cassidy  on a plate by  Kimmerle Milnazik discovered at the unforgettable Plate Lady website.  No question what you’d serve up here: fresh carrots and sugar cubes, we reckon.

Just a few more in the cupboard.  Above jaunty thing is by a remarkable American artist Howard Kottler, found here.   More of him to be found at the Smithsonian Institute.

And we complete the meal with another American artist Molly Hatch who, among other things designs plates in groups so you only see the whole picture when they are all together–say on your large dining table or here.

If you care about food, we think you should care about what you put the food on, whether it is a blank white canvas or a handsome cowboy.  If we are what we eat, maybe we are also, a little bit, what we eat OFF.

White light has something that coloured light doesn’t.  For one thing, it contains all the other colours, as some of us remember from science class.  It’s the mother light, it’s got it all.  The trio above are maybe thinking about this as they hang out near a wonderful piece by artist Doug Wheeler found here.

It was learning about Mr Wheeler’s work (for above, go here) that got us looking at white light and wondering about it. We’re none the wiser, really, but it sure feels good–and not just on the eyes.

Doug Wheeler has been conjuring up moving encounters with white light all over the place for about 40 years. He had a solo show in New York in January/February 2012, and the lovely thing above is showing in France this summer and beyond, it says here.

Artist Robert Irwin has also been busy for years and years exploring the wonders of white light. Above (seen here) is a recent installation of a 1971 work now called slant/light/volume. Another view below, found at the site of the Walker Gallery–for whose opening back then the piece was originally commissioned–shows the scale of it.

And the above view, from the Walker as well, shows the work alone at last beaming like a slice of the moon.

James Turrell seems to have become the best known American artist working with light his primary medium.  While he has not limited himself to white light (he does things with blue that will make you forget who you are and why it mattered), when he does take on the mother light, he does a nice job.  Of course.

Top Turrell piece is called ALTA, find it here.  Lower is Afrum, presented recently in a group light show at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and picked up here.

It’s time to back slowly away from the white light before you find you can’t.  Let’s retreat in stages, by way of three more doses of Doug Wheeler’s light work.  All of these are found at the David Zwirner gallery.

Pssst–time to go now.  You can come back.  Meanwhile, there’s always the moon.

19th century tintype portraits have a unique charm.  Each member of this family of 5 photographed around 1870 has a quality that makes us look, again and again.  Found here.

Part of it is likely because the people in this and other historic tintypes lived a different life than we do–shorter, less comfy, less connected, less concerned with minor celebrities–so we are attracted by the differentness. But there is something else too.  It seems as if virtually every face captured in these simple, quick, cheap photographic portraits is interesting.  How can that be?  It makes no sense, and yet…

We haven’t been able to take our eyes off this young woman since we saw her.  And look at those buttons.  There are lots and lots of these people, including the 4 gals below, to be found at a jam packed site devoted to “Nova Scotia Faces” located here.

By her size, she might be 4 years old. By the look on her face, she could be 35.

Dark, pensive, challenging.  No doubt the object of one fiery romance after another–some ending in gunshots.

“Now Mrs Belsin, I know you don’t really mean it when you say you’d rather be boiled in road tar than to let me take your magnificent daughter Swantilla to the annual Breeders’ Ball next Friday.”


This is, roughly, how a tintype photo was taken.  You had to be still for about 3 seconds, then the image was developed, on metal (a thin sheet of blackened iron, not tin) within minutes and handed to you.  From here

Then as now, not everyone was happy to have their picture taken.

(This above from Yale no less)

And some were provided with–or brought with them–props for added interest.

Is that a slingshot she’s whittling? You can make up your own caption.

There are lots of books and exhibitions showing tintypes from the last third of the 19th century

Like this one above. by Steven Kashner

And there are still tintypes being made by current photographers and artists.  Two artists who use tintype methods for their work: John Coffer and Jayne Hinds Bidaut.

Jayne Hinds Bidaut often uses tintype photography for animal and insect portraits  From this nice site Luminous Lint.  More of her work here

John Coffer is someone who has lived a life that largely parallels that of the original tintype photographers.  He is now legendary as a teacher of the form.  Above John Coffer image from here.

There is an article in the New York Times about him, including a narrated slideshow.  John Coffer, New York Times, 2006

Admirable though these contemporary efforts are, for us the mysterious (haunting?) quality of the old tintypes is still supreme.

Like the 135 year old tintype of this little lady.

or this Miss.

Or this remarkable young woman found  at “Family Tree Magazine”

Is it the tintype process or the people?  Do we still HAVE people like this?  We’ll keep looking.

So we had started a little tribute to each of these painters when it somehow made sense to show them together.  The connection is not easy to explain.  Ivon is all about colour—-beautiful fruit-paint, good enough to eat.  Pierre is in love with BLACK on white.  Vigorous, confident, and also physically beautiful.

Still, it seemed that they should meet, so we introduce them to each other here.  This is their conversation.

Ivon Hitchens: b. 3 March 1893 – d. 29 August 1979  England

Pierre Soulages: b. 24 December 1919

Ivon Hitchens  Divided Oak Tree No. 2 1958

Pierre Soulages  19 Juin 1963


Ivon Hitchens poppies and buds


Soulages   26 Juin 1999


IH–oh my

PS  17 November  2008


Ivon H, An early post-war work, Drive Gates 1946


M Soulages, incroyable, makes you shake and re-think what anything else means


Mr Hitchens, Red Centre


Nice, M Soulages, very nice.

There’s a book about Ivon

There’s a book about Pierre.


This is painting.  These are painters.  They would know what to say to each other.  We think.


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