One of my favorite children's book illustrators is Trina Schart Hyman who sadly passed away in 2004 of breast cancer. She won 4 Caldecott medals for her work in children's books which is no small feat, and she was the art director of Cricket Magazine during the 70's. (Cricket was cool!) My introduction to her work was through the gift of a Peter Pan book for Christmas when I was nine years old.
Peter Pan was and still is a huge favorite of mine, but Trina's illustrations in this particular edition brought the story to life in a whole new way for me. Gone were the cutesy Disney designs from the animated film.
Here was a raw and primal vision of Pan in stark black and white, emoting love, rage, curiosity, bravado and naiveté. I literally fell in love with this romantic vision of Peter Pan, the fierceness of this Tiger Lily, the warmth of this Wendy and the cruelty of this Hook and his pirates. No other Pan can be real for me. No other can compare.
Trina's astonishing draftsmanship was and still is pure magic to me. But there is warmth and richness to her drawings and compositions that take my breath away.
It's hard for me to describe. But there is something more than just technical prowess here. Trina captured something archetypal and intangible, and each time I look at these drawings they make me want to cry because of the rawness and vulnerability that is somehow apparent to me.
Or maybe I'm just being sentimental. I was nine after all! And yet, why do I still feel the same way looking at these images now, as I did back then? It's magic. And that's the quality I would love to have as I keep doing what I do.