Sunday, October 18, 2015

Eric Carle Museum: The Art of Fred Marcellino

This weekend I took a trip out to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to see the special exhibit A Renaissance Man: The Art of Fred Marcellino.

Fred Marcellino was the illustrator of (probably) my favorite picture book ever, the 1990 version of Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault that was a Caldecott Honor book that year.

I remember getting the book when I was 13, which is a bit old for picture books, but I was drawn in by the beautiful illustrations and playful storytelling. Puss is the kind of hero anyone could appreciate. He's clever, shrewd, hard-working and determined. He uses his wits to keep himself from getting eaten and to help the miller's son find better fortune.

The exhibit included some of Marcellino's art supplies and tools from his studio.

Fred Marcellino's colored pencil carousel

His cabinet of inspiration

The exhibit featured much of the final artwork from Puss in Boots, quite a bit of Marcellino's other children's illustration, and some of his earlier work for adult books and album covers. (Alas, photography wasn't allowed, so I can't show you more.)

Not surprisingly, the Puss in Boots artwork was the highlight of the visit for me. To see in person, pictures I've loved for a long time and to see up close the detail and richness of original art that can get lost in reproduction, made me feel like I was reading the story for the first time again. I remembered how I felt as that awkward 13 year old girl and why she fell in love with picture books then.

I also learned that Marcellino spent time in France, sketching and researching the setting and costumes for Puss. The attention to detail in the work is staggering. His preparation shows in every page, from the miller's windmill to the Ogre's palace to Puss' ruffled collar.

The show is only up for another week, as it closes October 25. So, if you want to see Puss in person you better hurry.

Click here for more information about the Eric Carle Museum and this exhibit.

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