Unique Children’s Book Illustration Exhibit Opening At OU-Lancaster

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When you open up a children’s book, the illustrations on each page take you back to your childhood. The pictures capture a time of innocence. 

Have you ever wondered how an adult artist learns to create childlike drawings to illustrate children’s books? You can find out at Ohio University Lancaster. 

Children’s Book Illustrations: The Circle of Creativity will be on display in the Raymond S. Wilkes Galley for the Visual Arts from Jan. 22 to March 21.

"I think illustrating is more difficult than studio art or gallery art because you’re trying to please many different audiences," said Curator Erin Burchwell. "You are sacrificing many of your own artistic choices to fit the author, to fit the editor, to fit the story and to fit the page. It’s a different kind of art you’re going to see. It’s not stuff you would hang up in your living room."

The exhibition will have a chronological flow. It will begin with illustrations from preschoolers. Each section after that will move through the ages of young artists. 

There will be a section dedicated to elementary students, one to middle school students, one to high school and college students, and then a section of adults aspiring to be illustrators. 

The final section of the room, which will circle you back to the entrance, will feature published illustrators and samples of their work. Their books will also be on display.

The Ohio University Lancaster Campus is proud to host this exhibition because of the unique way it will show the fascinating evolutionary circle of children’s illustrations.

"When you first walk in, we want you to get the feel of the first drawing you ever did. The creativity of preschool children is not stifled by peer-pressure, grades or even perspective. They’re not going to care if one arm is too long or an eye is the same size," said Burchwell. "Then we will get into middle school and high school. That is when artists start learning techniques, the proper way to do shading and lighting, and peer pressure kicks in. Things get less creative and more technical. There are grades now to worry about. By the time you get to the end, which is full circle around the room, we’ll have published illustrations with books. I think you’re going to find the preschool and final illustrators will have the most in common. Technique is the building block you need have to have, but you don’t always have to stay within the parameters."

The gallery opening will be held Wednesday, Jan. 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Burchwell hopes that attendees will walk away inspired.

"The great thing about the fine arts is that you can achieve any level you aspire to with hard work and practice," she said. "Even though I had a 'knack' for art at an early age, I never had a formal drawing lesson until my senior year of high school. And I’ve still never taken a painting class. But I’m glad for that now, because I can tell kids 'You can be an artist without the formal training.' To be an illustrator, you have to have a child’s point of view and every one of us has had a child’s point of view."