Treat Your Family to the Magic of Holidays & Snowdays
Both children and adults alike have treasured memories of those favorite, delightfully illustrated stories we take off the bookshelves at special times of the year.
For the coming holiday season, the Brandywine presents work by three highly talented artists who have recently envisioned additions to that seasonal library. Holidays & Snowdays: Illustrations for Three Children’s Books, which is on view now through January 6, 2019, is a glorious celebration of color and seasonal cheer featuring a variety of media, from scratchboard to collage.
To his depictions of an unlikely twosome—a young immigrant and a polar bear—Matthew Trueman brings rich colors (mostly the traditional blues and silver-whites of the holiday) and textures to Simon and the Bear, a Hanukkah Tale, written by Eric A. Kimmel. Simon and his friend are stranded on an ice floe in the dark North Atlantic for most of the story. Working with mixed media, crushed paper and collage techniques, Trueman deftly conveys the tactile qualities of the polar bear’s fur and the crystalline ice. This is an age-old tale of miracles, wonder and awe, conjured by Trueman’s use of light—the bright flames of the holiday candles and swirling galaxies of stars that decorate the pages.
Caldecott medalist Beth Krommes conveys the beauty of an unexpected snowstorm in her illustrations for Before Morning, written by Joyce Sidman. Krommes begins her work on scratchboards, producing black and white images that recall the visual qualities of wood engravings. She then adds delicate color washes to achieve a look that is distinctly her own and particularly appealing for this tale of being “snowed in.” Krommes, who lives in New Hampshire (and knows snow!), was awarded the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators 2016 Original Art Exhibit for her Before Morning illustrations.
James Ransome, a winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, sets a traditional holiday story in a different time and place. With his illustrations for The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow, Ransome summons the grandeur of the old brownstone neighborhoods in the jazz-inspired Harlem of the 1920s to create a visually stunning version of a holiday favorite. This adaptation of the classic Nutcracker tale revolves around song. Working with collage, a variety of mediums, and using saturated colors that almost seem to sing on the page, Ransome evokes the sheer pleasure and energy of dance, music and theater.
Like past exhibitions Drawing from a Story: Selected Caldecott Winners and Get the Picture! Recent Children’s Book Illustration, Holidays & Snowdays engages and nurtures young visitors and brings the Museum’s long-standing commitment to the history and traditions of children’s illustration to the present day.
Meet the Illustrators
Matthew Trueman was born in Philadelphia, but his family moved to Italy when he was four. Returning to the States for high school, he was inspired to become an illustrator by a class visit to the Brandywine River Museum of Art—and, in particular, by the N. C. Wyeth paintings he saw there. He received a BFA in Illustration from the Ringling School of Art and Design in 1996. His first picture book, When the Chickens Went on Strike, was published in 2003. Since then, he has illustrated seven additional books. Trueman lives and works near the Delaware River with his family.
Beth Krommes received a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University, an MAT in Art Education from the University of Massachusetts, and an AAS degree in Textile/Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She has illustrated nine children’s books, and among her awards is the Golden Kite Award in Picture Illustration from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (2001). Several of her drawings for The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson were included in the Brandywine’s 2010 exhibition Drawing from a Story: Selected Caldecott Winners. (Photo by Kim Peck)
James Ransome received a BFA from Pratt Institute in New York. He has illustrated over 60 picture books and has won numerous awards, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, an NAACP Image award, and the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for Before She was Harriet: The Story of Harriet Tubman written by his wife, Lesa Cline-Ransome. Professor and coordinator of the MFA Illustration Graduate Program at Syracuse University, Ransome lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley region with his family.
Holidays & Snowdays is on view now through January 6, 2019 as a part of Brandywine Christmas. This spectacular holiday experience for all ages includes a gallery filled with an expansive model train display, towering trees decorated with whimsical Critter ornaments, and a wide selection of holiday events and programs for the whole family.
James Ransome, The party at Marie’s house (detail), 2017, mixed media, 22 x 30 in. Collection of the artist
Matthew Trueman, Cover illustration for Simon and the Bear, a Hanukkah Tale, 2014, Mixed media and collage, 13 x 21 ½ inches, Private collection
Beth Krommes, Cover illustration for Before Morning, 2016, watercolor on scratchboard transfer, photo-mounted onto bristol board, 14 3/8 x 21 inches, Collection of the artist
James Ransome, Cover illustration for The Nutcracker in Harlem, 2017, Mixed medium, 15 1/2 x 15 inches, Collection of the artist