Broaden the horizon

dec 6, 2018

I asked some of my friends to send me an illustration that captures essence well, and to try and describe how they thought the illustrator does that. Of course they sent stuff I never would have thought of, which was a really nice way to broaden my horizon.

Fig.1: Dragt,T. Letter for the King (1962)

Tonke Dragt

Tonke Dragt is a Dutch writer, born in Jakarta in 1930, who has written many succesful children’s books. Not many people know that she is an illustrator too. This illustration was sent to me by Carla Frayman. She says:

‘This illustration for me shows the essence of a chapter in the book: the Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt. In the illustration there is the tension, the watchfulness for pursuers, the will to fulfill the quest by passing through the wood as quietly as possible. The posture of the horse and its rider and the darkness between the trees show this to me, together with the open space that is getting nearer. The drawing being black and white increases the suspense for me.’


Fig.2: Verburg,J.M. Tom Tippelaar (1977)

Jan Marinus Verburg

Jan Marinus Verburg is a Dutch illustrator born in 1949, who won a ‘Golden Brush’ for Tom Tippelaar; Annie M.G.Schmidt wrote the text based on his illustrations. This illustration was sent to me by Anouk Bannink, who says:

’this illustration captures the essence of the boy being sad about his big ears. It is funny how that is repeated in the pictures on his wall of animals with big ears. The memory of this book always stayed with me and when you asked me for an illustration this is what came to mind immediately.’

Fig.3: Nielsen,K. East of the Sun (1914)

Kay Nielsen

Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) was a Danish illustrator who illustrated books and worked with Walt Disney. This illustration was sent to me by Daniel Bennett, who says:

 ‘Kay Nielsen drew this beautiful work for “East of the sun, west of the moon” – old Norwegian stories with Art Nouveau illustrations from the early 20th century. It is the moment when a farmer’s daughter (who becomes a princess and lives with her beloved prince in a big palace), one day wakes up and everything has disappeared. She is cursed and the palace and prince are gone. She awakes in the middle of a dark wood. In the illustration you can see how small she feels, alone in the dark forest – the long vertical lines of the trees, the dark colours, the central position of the girl, her posture, the lonely willow’s branch. It shows her sorrow and loneliness. The classic story of a poor girl who suddenly has it all, but looses it because of her curiosity.’


Fig.5: de Goede,F. van de Vendel,E. De Zombie Trein (2017)

Floor de Goede

Floor de Goede is a Dutch comic maker and illustrator who lives in Amsterdam. He made two award winning graphic poem books with childrens book writer Edward van de Vendel. He publishes comics and illustrations in several magazines. His work was sent to me by Petulia van Tiggelen, who says:

‘I like these because I love poems and comics. The illustrations add so much meaning to the text – the imagery speaks its own language. The essence for me is the absurd and childlike quality of the drawings. The child takes a central position in these poems.’

Fig.4: Dewar,D, Gicquel,G. Rokin Metro Station Mosaics (2017)

Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel

Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel are a French-British artist-duo who made 33 giant wall mosaics in the metro station Rokin in Amsterdam. The illustrations were sent to me by Ralph Herbers, who says:

‘The basic use of colours, the clear lines, the absence of details, the powerful forms. Every line and form matters. It is not at all pretentious or arty, it is very honest. They are every day objects, but somehow they are made into something bigger or higher. They really move me, but I am not exactly sure why – you can’t explain everything.’

Exactly, you can’t explain everything, especially about capturing essence. And that is just as well. There are so many individual ways to capture essence. And so many individual ways to experience it! In the next blog I will try to come to a conclusion on this elusive subject 🙂

Dewar, D., Gicquel, G. (2017). Rokin Metro Station Mosaics. Amsterdam: Rokin Metro Station

Dragt, T. (1962) Letter for the King. Amsterdam: Leopold

de Goede,F., van de Vendel, E. (2017) De Zombie Trein. Amsterdam: Querido

Nielsen, K. (1914) East of the sun, west of the moon. New York: Doran

Verburg, J.M., Schmidt, A.M.G.. (1977) Tom Tippelaar. Amsterdam: Querido