Jim Henson, The Works


Everyone who knows me as an adult thinks that I must have been a huge Disney fan as a child. While I’ve always enjoyed Disney films and shorts, my childhood was focused mainly on three things: Peanuts, Star Wars, and The Muppets.

This week’s book spotlight is Jim Henson, The Works — yet another of my most prized books in my library. In it, we not only read biographies and histories of the characters that we’ve grown to love, but we also learn about some of the projects that he would have like to have produced and how much of an artist and visonary Jim Henson really was.

The book contains some of the most creative and unique page layout designs that I have ever seen. I especially enjoy the small “Jim Henson: The Early Years” book which is about a quarter of the page dimensions of the rest of the book which is tipped-in to the binding. The entire volume appears to have been assembled as thoughtfully and lovingly as you can imagine Jim doing all of the projects during his life.

In a nutshell, I would highly recommend this book—not just to people who are fans of the Muppets, like myself, but to anyone who likes to have a peek into what makes creative people tick, and maybe glean some inspiration in the process.

What made me decide to comment on this book—besides seeing it on my bookshelf every day at work—is my recent purchase of The Muppet Show: First Season on DVD. I was a little nervous when I first got it that I wouldn’t enjoy the humor as much as an adult as I did when I was a kid, but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. It is so nice to see the sophisticated wit in the writing of this show that still makes me laugh out loud. I was also happy to see that my 5 & 7 year old daughters also laughed quite a bit at the show and often ask to watch them over again. The shows still have value today as great entertainment and I would highly recommend them.

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Experimenting in Watercolor

Every once in a while I break out my paints and try to do something by hand. I really like the texture that painting and drawing by hand creates, but I usually feel much more confident in the results I get by completing something on the computer.

This is an illustration that I did a few years back after reading an article in Step by Step about how one of my favorite illustrators, Peter DeSeve, does his illustrations. I don’t think I quite achieved his style, but I was kind of happy with the result.

More recently, I have been working on a children’s book. I did two versions of the above illustration (the other one being my first Illustration Friday entry). This is actually my first attempt. Painting it went smoothly enough, but I just didn’t feel comfortable enough with it to think that it would really measure up as a book illustration. Hopefully with this blog/Illustration Friday avenue open, I’ll be able to practice my basic skills more. I enjoy realizing the illustrations on the computer, but there’s a certain amount of warmth that comes from painting that I’m just not getting from the computer.

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The Art of Charles Schultz

One of my favorite books that I own is Peanuts: the art of Charles Schultzstyle=border:none. Its rich, close-up photography of the yellowing newsprint pages are so warm and inviting. It also includes a biography, rare memorabilia, sketches by Shultz as well as images of the original inked artwork from the strip. Even though I’ve had the book for a few years now, I never get tired of immersing myself in the evolution of Shultz’s talent and the Peanuts characters.

There was a time in my life when I very much wanted to be a syndicated comic strip artist. Occasionally my fancies take me down that path even now and usually it’s encounters with this book that trigger such wanderings.

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