Jonathan Bean: Artistic Chameleon

 Michelle Houts is blogging this week from The Mazza Museum’s Summer Conference. The Mazza Museum is located in Findlay, Ohio and houses one of the largest collections of original art from children’s literature. The museum also hosts authors and illustrators throughout the year. Stick around to see who shows up this week. You won’t be disappointed!

It’s Friday morning at the Mazza Museum. We’ve settled into our chairs, the thunder rumbles over our heads. The rhythm of a pouring rain provides the perfect beat for the presentation we’re about to hear. It’s storytime. And we’re an eager audience.

Jonathan Bean is the award-winning illustrator and author/illustrator of many books for young children. He’s accumulated one Ezra Jack Keats Award, one Charlotte Zolotow Award and two Boston Globe Horn Book Awards. In keeping with this week’s unintentional theme, Jonathan’s style is amazingly diverse.  A self-proclaimed “artistic chameleon,” Jonathan explained how his childhood, art training, and practical experiences all contributed to the multi-dimensional way in which he works.  See for yourself.

bean books web small

In a manner in which I’ve never heard, Jonathan explained the complexity of the process involved with printing children’s books, beginning with the artist’s selection of color. Over years of listening to Mazza’s guest artist, I’ve learned so much about how children’s books are created, but never understood what happens after the finished art goes to the publisher for printing. It’s a process far too few of us appreciate when we admire the colors in a book we adore. I never knew that, in some cases, the artist is responsible for the color separation that must precede printing.

For Jonathan, the very first line of communication with the reader happens with his earliest selection of line and shape, as he begins finding a connection to natural world.

bean lines web small
The rain continues its drumbeat on the roof. We could stay here all day and listen to Jonathan….

…with the rain on the roof and the roof on the building and building on the ground and the ground in world and the world full of stories and the stories just keep going all around and around…

… and the stories just keep going all around.

We’ve one more story to tell. It’s Aaron Becker‘s. Come back this afternoon.



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