When my Illustration MECA cohort Mary Anne Lloyd asked me to drive senior students on a field trip, I didn’t even blink. Tony DiTerlizzi?!!! Mary Blair?!! Beep beep beep beep YEAH!

The closer you get to Amherst, MA, the more you feel in the middle of the woods. It’s a serene feeling, honest. Meeting House roads are all over New England, as my passengers noticed.

We arrived at the home of Tony and his partner, Angie, right on time, and were in for a major treat. This pretty much captures the wonder we all felt.

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Angie made us completely welcome as our jaws dropped at the sight of SO MUCH awesomeness. Their art collection is stunning. Original Garth Williams, Dr. Suess, Mary Blair. And way more.

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Tony was very upfront: I started right where you are. 

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He has a non-stop passionate all-out work ethic, and set his goals early. He grew up in Florida, where he met Angela. They share a love of children’s books. Angela is an author and Tony’s studio manager. And a mom, just like me. Her office is full of sweet vignettes of vintage toys and art.

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As a chronologist, I appreciated Tony’s narrative. He gave the tour of his studio and opened his wall of flat files, beginning with his high school homage to The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. His characters were infused with the early 80’s, naturally; he freely shared his opus in pencil and marker.

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He showed his meticulous dummy book for The Spider and the Fly.

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Seeing it next to the final book was informative for everyone. Those studying illustration need to see it as a perpetual process of refinement. Things change. It’s all good.

He also brought out well-known illustrations, to our utter amazement and deep satisfaction. Seeing original work is a blessed thing. What? What IS that you paint over the final watercolor that makes it come alive?!!

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There came a point in his career where he could revive an early adolescent obsession: the Spiderwick Chronicles. Back when he was 12, he filled and filled and filled notebook paper with an elaborate tale of fantastic proportions.

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His years of work could bring it to fruition. Illustrators, look at THIS dummy! Made with enormous attention to detail that the publisher could BELIEVE.

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Surrounded by pin ball machines, vintage toys, sci-fi books, shelves and shelves of reference, masks, props, and his art next to his groovy daughter’s, we swooned.

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He graciously signed our books, posters, and gave us stickers and tiny dinosaurs. Smitten, we were. With one last glimpse of this Mary Blair piece hanging in a dining room lined by Tony’s own wallpaper design, we reluctantly departed, filled with cookies.

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Tony and Angie, we are infinitely grateful for your time, talent, and wisdom. What a feast you shared! No sketch can do it justice.

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Our satiated troop headed to Northampton to our lodgings, and then to Local Burger.

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We stopped at the nearby Tunnel Bar for some funnel.

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The next day we visited the R. Michelson Gallery, renowned for it’s illustration exhibits in a former bank.

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You can find original art by Mo Willems, with all the markings of reproduction.

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As well as the exquisite renderings of Rebecca Guay. To me, she is the best of Rackham and Klimt in an indescribable fusion of original beauty.

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This painting by Nan Hill summed up the moment my eyeballs melted.

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We drove next to The Eric Carle Museum of Picturebook Art for a finale beyond our expectations.

Let it be known: the class of 2016 is one fine band of illustrators.

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Chief Curator Ellen Keiter treated us to the full tour of this lively place chock full of incredible work. We discovered that for every 6 months the paper works are on display, they must “rest” out of view for 5 years. Illustration has purpose, it’s a means to an end, and only recently been considered worthy of display. Therefore, not always archival.

We viewed the exuberant show, Eric Carle’s A-Z, which ran directly into a gallery filled with David Macauley’s work from Black and White, a Caldecott Medal winner. Ellen explained he didn’t want any of the work to be framed. That was not possible, so he added to the display by painting directly on the gallery walls. Of course, no pictures allowed 🙁

We could photograph this, the entrance to an expansive exhibit of the work of Mary Blair, known for her Golden Book illustrations and visual development for Walt Disney.

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The above photo doesn’t do the show justice. Just GO. She created inventive and expressive environments for classic Disney films like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and many others. Ellen provided background to Blair’s life while we peered up close at her painterly gouache scenes of miniature dramas.

Next we were ushered into the museum’s library and reading room, where a display of illustrated books of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland caught our attention. Look, an Arthur Rackham!

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Ellen said goodbye as we ventured over to the learning studio to make collages from letter scraps, in honor of the A-Z show. Abbie Masso made this feline concoction.

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As we headed to the parking lot, what did we see? A very hungry bug.

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Thanks to Maine College of Art, for the opportunity to imbibe all the realms of illustration in one road trip. Indeed, the Pigeon May NOT drive the MECA van.

 

2 Comments

  1. What a wonderful trip! It looks like such fun:)

  2. WOW!What a wonderful trip and blog posting! Wish I coulda’ gone with you. Your students are soooo lucky to have teachers that share this magical mystery tour. Fodder for the ages. Kudos Jamie & Mary Anne! The gift that keeps on giving. Best teachers ever!

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