Monday, November 7, 2011

Scratchboards and Woodcuts: The Work of Illustrator Beth Krommes

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
by Joyce Sidman,
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
(Houghton Mifflin, 2011)
If an illustrator would cut wood . . 
It's been a while since we've featured a single illustrator's work on Jacket Knack, and it's time we did. High time. I've chosen the work of Beth Krommes, winner of the 2009 Caldecott Award for the House in the Night (far below). More recently, she has illustrated a book of poetry for children, Swirl by Swirl, by well known poet Joyce Sidman. I have a fondness for books with small, slimy critters on their covers so this one drew my eye right away. But there's more, such a tidy composition of swirls going on here--it's alive with motion.
Ms. Krommes works in different media depending, I suppose, on the desired effect. The woodcuts and casein paintings on her website are a delight for the eyes--and I have to say, her woodcut illustrations are better at modeling--creating the full, rounded shapes that give a subject three-dimensional form--than many other artists' woodcuts. Here's just one example of her skill. (This and other prints are available for sale on her site--just saying.):

"Baby in a Car Seat"
A woodcut by Beth Krommes
see her websitefor more information 

Pattern and form. She's a good woodcutter. Most of Krommes' children's books, however, are illustrated in a slightly different technique called scratchboard. More about scratchboard here. Here's one example. Again, pattern and form, pattern and form and a nice tight composition:

Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
(Houghton Mifflin, 1999)
Does it remind you at all of The Little House? It does me.

Below, her cover for the 2009 Caldecott winner! It's easy to see why the scratchboard technique was used for this cover artwork:

The House in the Night
by Susan Marie Swanson,
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
(Houghton Mifflin, 2009)

And there you have it. Well, some of it. There's a lot more to feast on at the artist's website.
Question for you, ladies and gentlemen: Were you already familiar with the work of Beth Krommes? Please take a sec to let us know, using the poll featured in up the right-hand column -->-->

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