Michael Sowa: Master of Comic Surrealism

My ongoing search for bear images online often leads to the discovery of some pretty amazing artists. 

Michael Sowa

Take German surrealist Michael Sowa, for example. Years ago, I ran across his painting of a teddy bear sitting alone at a table with a slice of bread and a glass of milk. When I saw that same bear hanging by his ears from a clothesline, that was it – I became a forever fan.

Little did I realize that the paintings were part of a book called A Bear Called Sunday, written by Axel Hacke (Bloomsbury, 2004).  Sowa has also illustrated two other children’s books: Esterhazy: The Rabbit Prince, by Irene Dische and Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Creative Co., 2000), and The Little King December, another title by Axel Hacke (Bloomsbury, 2002). 

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Sarah van Dongen’s Cozy World

Yum! It looks like somebody’s been very busy in the kitchen. Cakes piled up everywhere! And they’ve been at it for awhile –see the curly red-haired girl on the table who’s resting on the pink cake?

Maybe I should volunteer to help them eat some of their creations. Surely they could spare a cupcake or two. 🙂

Amsterdam-based illustrator Sarah van Dongen.
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a fresh look at Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost

Let’s take a peek at the first two titles in the new Illustrated Poets Collection just released in August by Bushel & Peck Books.

Both The Illustrated Emily Dickinson and The Illustrated Robert Frost were edited by poet and educator Ryan G. Van Cleave, Creative Writing Coordinator at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.

They each contain “25 Essential Poems” paired with David Miles’s gorgeous full color collages (he had me at those beautiful eye-catching covers). 🙂

~ from The Illustrated Robert Frost

In his welcoming series introduction, Van Cleave offers friendly suggestions for making the most of the books. He encourages readers to simply “enjoy the poems” rather than puzzle over the poet’s intentions or dwell on other people’s interpretations.

Next, it’s good to engage with the poems by asking questions such as:

  • What do you notice about this poem?
  • How does this poem make you feel?
  • What else have you read/seen/experienced that connects with this poem?

Finally, it’s important to “be your own boss” – read the poems in order or jump around as one sees fit. Share them with others or savor them by yourself. Read them aloud or “whisper their words in your heart.”

~ from The Illustrated Robert Frost

Ultimately, “there is NO wrong way to experience a poem.” This reminds me of Lee Bennett Hopkins saying that a poem is meant to be experienced rather than analyzed, and I think this goes a long way in making poetry less intimidating for the average reader.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Get in the car – we’re off for a December ride! ‘Tis the season for bundling up, picking out that perfect tree, shopping for gifts and making sure our animal friends are happy.

British artist Stephanie Lambourne’s colorful and quirky pictures are just the thing we need to get us into the holiday spirit. 

Based in Suffolk, England, she earned a BA in Fine Art and a post graduate degree in Art and Education from the Hornsey School of Art (now Middlesex University). After teaching at schools and colleges for a few years, she transitioned to painting full time in 2003.

Inspired by walks along the beach, she featured coastal landscapes, cottages, beach huts, boats, and seagulls in her earlier paintings. In recent years, her main focus has been people and humor (“unreal characters in sometimes strange pursuits”).  

She works in acrylic, rarely doing preliminary sketches, preferring to draw ideas straight onto the canvas to create a sense of freshness to her work. 

Though I’m sharing mostly holiday/winter themed pieces today, her pictures are set in all seasons. Her objective is to make people smile, to immerse the viewer in a lighthearted and slightly offbeat narrative from a bygone era. It’s fun to imagine just what the people in her pictures are really up to. 🙂

For more, visit Stephanie’s Instagram and FB Page. Her fine art greeting cards may be purchased via Green Pebble and The Blank Card Company. Original acrylics are available at Southwold Gallery and Bircham Gallery. DM her directly for any inquiries or commissions.

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nine cool things on a Tuesday

1. Happy November! To warm us up, enjoy Korean artist Selynn Lee’s cozy animal paintings. Her earthy brown-rust palette is very autumnal and a nice way to anticipate Thanksgiving.

Selynn currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany, and is all about creating pictures that depict joy and make her laugh.

She loves to travel internationally and learn new languages. She’s been drawing animals since childhood.

Her art caught my eye because of my love of foxes and bears. I like the idea of different animal species peacefully co-existing. 🙂

To purchase cards, prints, and stickers, visit SelynnDraws (Etsy). Larger prints are available at InPrint.  Most recent work may be found at Selynn’s Instagram.

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