03 – The Art of Graeme Base

art-of-graeme-base.PNGBook Title: The Art of Graeme Base
Author: Julie Watts
Style: Illustrated with text
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Nonfiction, art history
Page Count: 244
Reading time: 3 hours
Format: Hardcover (library)

My impressions: I grew up reading Graeme Base’s wonderfully illustrated books, and I have been delighted to introduce my own children to titles like Animalia and The Eleventh Hour as well as books that have come out since like Enigma and The Water Hole. Base’s incredible artwork, love of fine detail, hidden imagery and clever, poetic writing have always made his books winners, and finding a book about the man and his work during a glance through my local library’s art section was, for me, like stumbling upon half-buried treasure.

I expected this book to be a fairly easy read, but I was surprised at the detail that author Julie Watts included from her interviews with Base, his family and his friends and colleagues. It’s always interesting to learn that an especially gifted artist really dreams of being something else, and I was shocked to learn that Base’s impressive art career isn’t his one true love; he shares at least as much affection for music, and the book led me to believe a big part of what drives him as an artist is a desire to break free from his desk and create something transcendent. As it happens, his one book considered to be a failure (The Worst Band in the Universe) is the one that reached closest to that dream, including a full audio CD to go with the rather high concept story of alien musicians. But through this book, I learned that he’d successfully staged a musical for The Sign of the Seahorse, and he’d also updated his great Discovery of Dragons with new content.

Reading about truly creative people inspires me, and I had no trouble racing through this book, lingering on the pictures and then eagerly reading on to learn more about the context behind them.

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