The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration

Illustration by Rene Graef
The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration presents the work of several of Wisconsin’s most accomplished illustrators of children’s books: Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Laura Dronzek, Renée Graef, Lois Ehlert, Kevin Henkes, David McLimans, and Ellen Raskin. The exhibition, which runs from through December 6 and includes a myriad of free events for the public, explores each participating artist’s process for producing a finished children’s book, from conception to a finished set of original illustrations ready for the publisher. See sketches, paintings, and collages, as well as the book “dummies” usually only seen by publishers. The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration also highlights finished illustrations from published books.

Exhibition artists’ work represents a time frame from the early 1960’s through today, presenting an overview of changing graphic and computer aided-design processes. Visitors will delight in reading biographical text panels for each artist, which describe the artists’ backgrounds and highlight some of their inspirational sources. With several book artists represented in the same space, viewers have the opportunity to see a broad range of expression and style represented through various approaches to the relationship between narrative and image. Different ways of putting pictures and words together, as well as contrasts in design ideas and story content, set the gallery stage for the adventure. Visitors will find that children’s book illustration is indeed a fine art, inhabiting a realm of its own, and with a history, context, and unique power to make imaginary worlds real. Each of these artists has a different way of entering the world of the child and bringing forth a gift composed of shapes, colors, lines, and words. This variety of creative expression will reward gallery-goers and perhaps surprise those not acquainted with the work of these nationally known artists who live and work in our midst. See below for a complete listing of The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration exhibition events or visit for more details.

• Sunday, November 8, 2:00 pm: James Watrous Gallery talk by Ginny Moore Kruse, Director Emerita, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, UW–Madison.
• Sunday, November 8, 1–3:00 pm: James Watrous Gallery tour for families followed by a diorama workshop at the Madison Children’s Museum.