BFF’s and Unknowing Mentors

Joan Walsh Anglund was my first inspiration.  Mrs. Anglund writes and illustrates children’s books.  The first of her books was given to me by my Aunt Marian Wolfe when I was little.  Mrs. Anglund surely does not consider me her friend because she doesn’t know me… but I consider her one of my best as she has been an inspiration to me my whole life.  If not for her, I doubt I would be who I am today or have developed my own talent for drawing or eye for design. A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You Sketch from “A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You.”

Mrs. Anglund is known for her style of drawing faces of children with nothing more than a pair of dots for eyes above rosy cheeks that are so expressive in their context that it’s easy to comprehend their implied expressions.

Boy With Balloon
Sketch from “A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You.”
Joan Walsh Anglund was born in Chicago in 1926.  Both of her parents were artists.  She studied art at the Chicago Art Institute and the American Academy of Art.  She then became apprentice to Adele Roth, a commercial artist in Chicago followed by a period of free-lance work until her first book “A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You” was published by Harcourt Brace in 1958.  Since then, she has written and illustrated more than 75 books which have sold more than 40,000,000 copies worldwide. 

I guess she’s still writing and drawing.  She lives in a house, located in a small Connecticut town built in 1746, that she shared with her husband of 62 years, Robert, who passed away earlier this year in April.  Mrs. Anglund’s two children and two grandchildren have been models for her drawings over the years. Joan and Joy
Joan and Joy
Holly Hobbie
American Greeting’s “Holly Hobbie”
My second inspiration came from Denise Holly Ulinskas who married Douglas Hobbie in 1964.  You know her as Holly Hobbie.  In the late 1960’s Hobbie created drawings of a cat-loving, rag dress-wearing little girl in a giant bonnet for American Greetings Co. Though she has been marketed very successfully since then as the author of many children’s books and toys, it was this group of American Greeting’s characters that inspired me along with Laura Ingles Wilder’s books and subsequent TV show “Little House On The Prairie” that were popular at that time.

I was disappointed but not surprised (she’s 83 now) to find that Mrs. Anglund doesn’t Twitter or have a Facebook page.  However, Facebook does have a fan page:  Denise Hobbie also doesn’t appear to Twitter or have a Facebook page, though there are several Holly Hobbie Fan Pages on Facebook.

wood pics When I was in grade school in the 60’s, my three cousins: Patty, Kathy and Debbie (Aunt Marian’s daughters) all older than I, taught me a craft they’d developed copying Anglund’s and Hobbie’s drawings onto pieces of driftwood and smooth-warn pieces of ‘barn wood’ and flat river rocks.  We used acrylic paint and drew the lines in with a very fine paint brush (like an eyeliner brush).  As time passed, my cousins lost interest, but I soon developed my own ‘characters’ and themes instead of copying.  I also found that the lining could be done much more accurately and quickly with a fine line black pen.  Throughout my childhood and teen years, I created these little craft pieces and sold them at arts and crafts fairs. 

While my friends were earning their spending money babysitting, I was painting and drawing.  These are the only remaining pieces I own.  The left one is a copy of a Holly Hobbie drawing and the other two are copies of Mrs. Anglund’s drawings.  My dad has several pieces of my original drawings on wood scattered about his house. The piece in the center was painted for my great grandmother’s second husband who was the honorary “chief” of the Quinault Indians.  They lived in Astoria, Oregon.  This was reportedly one of the last few pieces of yew wood that was logged off their land to make way for a freeway.  I painted it for “Grandpa Chrissie” when I was 12.  When he passed away about 20 years ago, I got it back.  

Years later when I was grown and had children of my own, I was working as a secretary at a community college.  When I moved to the Laurelwood Neighborhood in Roseburg, Oregon, in the late 80’s I was visiting with one of my new neighbors.  On her kitchen wall, I was surprised to discover one of my pieces that she had purchased from me many years ago at an art festival.  It was about a year after that time that I sold my little house, quit my job and went on to school to become an interior designer with a continued focus on illustration… though I do most of it with a computer nowadays.  I still sketch and paint mostly for my own pleasure.

Comments are closed.