Storybook: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf | The Story of Ferdinand (1936) is the best known work written by American author Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. The children's book tells the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. He sits in the middle of the bull ring failing to take heed of any of the provocations of the matador and others to fight.
The book was released nine months before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and was seen by many supporters of Francisco Franco as a pacifist book. It was banned in many countries, including in Spain. In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned, while Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, granted it privileged status as the only non-communist children's book allowed in Poland. India's leader Mahatma Gandhi called it his favorite book.
Leaf is said to have written the story on a whim in an afternoon in 1935, largely to provide his friend, illustrator Robert Lawson (then relatively unknown) a forum in which to showcase his talents.
The landscape in which Lawson placed the fictional Ferdinand is more or less real. Lawson faithfully reproduced the view of the city of Ronda in Andalusia for his illustration of Ferdinand being brought to Madrid on a cart: we see the Puente Nuevo ("New Bridge") spanning the El Tajo canyon. The Disney movie added some rather accurate views of Ronda and the Puente Romano ("Roman bridge") and the Puente Viejo ("Old bridge") at the beginning of the story, where Lawson's pictures were more free. Ronda is home to the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain that is still used; this might have been a reason for Lawson's use of its surroundings as a background for the story.
Isabel Samarasʼ work is a form of visual storytelling that is witty, mysterious, and tender. Her painted narratives are classical in technique and pop in content, revolving around issues of secret love, unrequited lust and making things end the way we wish they would. Best known for lush and meticulously painted riffs on Old Masters that send up pop culture icons of the '70s, her ribald images are woven with references to classic horror movies, ancient mythology, cheesy television, and childhood fables.
Familiar to a broad audience through publications like Juxtapoz and International Tattoo Art magazines, her work has also been featured in books such as 20th Century Women Artists, Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art, Weirdo Deluxe: The Wild World of Pop Surrealism and Lowbrow Art‚ and her monograph titled On Tender Hooks: The Art of Isabel Samaras. She opened her studio to the television shows Internet Tonight‚ SexTV, and the documentary films‚ The Lowdown on Lowbrow and Newbrow: Contemporary Underground Art.
Comparing her work to postmodern painting, one critic writes: “Samaras has created a truly populist art. Fairy tales, magical realism, and the forbidden fantasies of fabled characters present a world where elusive desires become reality. She often re-imagines gothic romances with happy endings, and ill-fated journeys turn into enchanted honeymoons. Tinged with mischief, she invites the viewer to be part of her humorous and heartfelt storytelling process.”
Storybook: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl | James and the Giant Peach is a popular children's novel written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl. The plot centres on a young English orphan boy who enters a gigantic, magical peach, and has a wild and surreal cross-world adventure with six magically-altered garden bugs he meets. Roald Dahl was originally going to write about a giant cherry, but changed it to James and the Giant Peach because a peach is "prettier, bigger and squishier than a cherry."
Richard James Oliver
Born in Pontypridd, Wales in 1975.
Currently Paints and resides in Los Angeles CA.
Solo exhibitions include the Known Gallery, Hollywood, Los Angeles. Museum of Modern Art, Wales. Attic Gallery, Swansea and Rhondda Heritage park permanent Mural.
Mixed Exhibitions Worldwide including London, New York and most recently Los Angeles.
Paintings currently hang in Museums and public display throughout the UK and private clients are worldwide.
Richard J Oliver was born and raised in Wales, United Kingdom, studied Fine Art at the University of the West of England and undertook his Masters at UWIC in Wales. In his time between studies, Oliver built his reputation, beginning in Wales and later gaining recognition throughout the UK. His work has been included in numerous European group shows, which then segued into solo shows, including an exhibition at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in Wales.
Oliver's early work focused on his homeland, particularly the struggle of its youth trying to find identity in the aftermath of the local mining industry's demise. His work often showcased the skeleton landscapes of mining villages in the Welsh valleys juxtaposed with contemporary youth.
His latest works explore more universal subjects, from environmental issues to humanitarian and social problems that are close to his heart.
Since becoming a parent, Oliver has explored the anxieties of raising a child in an environment on the brink of disaster. The images touch on the tragedy of children forced to survive in an apocalyptic environment and violently fend for themselves. He transforms the natural instincts of fatherhood and family protection into striking visuals. More recently, portraits have crossed into the dark, brooding world of Grimm's fairytales and surrealistic subjects that help convey the emotion and tragedy of our world's children. Oliver works closely with many charities, most recently donating proceeds to Dreamlovecure.org and City of Hope's Department of Paediatrics.
Storybook: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame | The Wind in the Willows is a children's novel by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternately slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animals in a pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames valley.
Storybook: Stellaluna by Janell Cannon | A mother fruitbat loves her baby called Stellaluna very much and would never let anything happen to her. When the two are attacked by an owl, the predator knocks Stellaluna out of her mother's safe embrace. Soon the baby bat ends up in a bird's nest filled with three baby birds named Pip, Flitter and Flap. The mother bird will let Stellaluna be part of the family only if she eats bugs, does not hang by her feet and sleeps at night.
When all the baby animals grow, they learn to fly. When Stellaluna and the birds are out playing, it gets dark and the birds go home without her because they will not be able to see in the dark. Stellaluna keeps flying, but when Stellaluna's wings hurt, she stops to rest. When she does, she hangs by her thumbs. Soon another bat comes to ask why Stellaluna is hanging by her thumbs. She tells the bat the story of what had happened after she and her mother were attacked by the owl. Another bat interrupts the story. That bat is Stellaluna's mother. Stellaluna and her mother are happily reunited and Stellaluna finally understands why she is so different.
Excited about learning how to be a bat, Stellaluna returns to Pip, Flitter, and Flap in order to share her new experiences. They agree to join Stellaluna and the bats at night, but find they are unsuited to flying at night and nearly crash. Stellaluna rescues them and the four of them decide that while they may be very different, they are still friends and family.
Laurie Lee Brom grew up in the historical town of Charleston, South Carolina, the local ghost stories and folk tales of the swampy Low County, and rich Gullah culture stirring her imagination. She spent untold hours pursuing pixies and tree frogs in the hollow logs and Pluff Mud of her own backyard. Today she still pursues fairy folk along with all manner of curious ghosts and odd characters in her enchanting portraits and paintings.