Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rene Cloke (1905 - 1995)

Rene Cloke first came to my attention when I was researching the artists affiliated with Great Britain’s Medici Society, an art publishing company started in London in 1908. Although widely known for her depictions of fairies, sprites, pixies, and elves, she also painted many illustrations of dressed or anthropomorphic animals for greeting cards, postcards, annuals, and books, some of which she herself authored.

Rene Cloke was born Irene Mabel Neighbour Cloke in Plymouth, Devon on October 8, 1904 (or, variously, October 4, 1905), although she spent most of her life in London. The daughter of a bank manager, she was a shy child who passed many hours sketching. Her first employment after graduating was illustrating an educational series, The Radiant Way, for the Edinburgh publishers, W & R Chambers, a firm that played a leading role in pioneering inexpensive but quality literature for middle and working class readers during the 19th and 20th centuries. While illustrating cards for the above-mentioned Medici Society, she was also associated with another Scottish printing company, James Valentine & Sons (variously, The Valentine Company), whose primary focus was lithographic postcards. In addition to greeting cards and postcards, Cloke was an extremely prolific book illustrator. She illustrated many books by Enid Blyton - one of the most successful British children's storytellers of the twentieth century -  including Naughty Amelia Jane, The Three Golliwogs, the Mr. Meddle and Mr. Pink-Whistle series, and the Everyday Book series. Among the better known tales she illustrated were Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Grimms' Fairy Tales, Hans Andersen Fairy Tales, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Brer Rabbit Stories by Joel Chandler Harris, several Bible stories, and many more. She herself authored and illustrated numerous books including Woodland Stories, Before We Go to Bed, Rene Cloke's Bedtime Book of Fairytales and Rhymes, ABC and Counting Book, My First Picture Book series, and retellings of well-known tales such as Cinderella , Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss in Boots, and others. In addition, she continued to produce illustrations for the many annual publications, including Uncle Oojah's Big Annual, Blackie's Children's Annual, Tiny Tots Annual, Jack and Jill Annual, Playhour Annual, and Harold Hare Book.
During World War II, Cloke worked for the BritishWar Office as a tracer, producing maps from photographs for use by the Royal Air Force. After the war, she resumed her career in writing children's books and card and book illustration. In the late 50’s, she moved to London, residing at 31 Bernard Gardens, Wimbledon SW19. She continued to work until just four months before her death on October 1, 1995, at age 91.

If you would like to see my own cute animal illustrations and various products - mousepads, mugs, postage stamps, stickers, buttons, and more - featuring them, please click here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop is Now Open!

If you like cute animal illustrations, sometimes known as "dressed animals", "anthropomorphic animals", or "animal character" illustrations, please hop on over to my new online store, Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop. You'll find a variety of products - mousepads, postage stamps, baby t-shirts, cards and stationery, stickers, buttons, and more - featuring my own storybook-style illustrations of charming and whimsical mice, birds, frogs, bugs, bunny rabbits, shrews, toads, swans, flowers with faces, and more. I've just started adding products, so please be patient while the store grows. Please enjoy, and thanks for looking!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Whimbletails™ Announces New Manufacturing Partnership!

We're pleased to announce that starting immediately, we will be partnering with Zazzle, the leader in on-demand retail manufacturing. Whimbletails™ joins individuals, professional artists and designers, and other top brands like Hallmark, Mattel, the Walt Disney Company, Star Wars, and the Library of Congress in taking advantage of the company's extensive on-demand manufacturing technology. An all-new, larger variety of Whimbletails™ products will be available for purchase in the Zazzle marketplace starting late fall, while some of the current store items will be discontinued. For a preview, please go to Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop. See you there!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Whimbletails™ is moving!

I'm pleased to announce that the Whimbletails™ Studio and Workshop will be moving to a much-needed larger space. Although I'll miss my charming and historic old dairy barn, the new space will be bigger, brighter, and warmer (and hopefully, no mice except the ones that appear on my drawing board!) The Whimbletails™ Store will be closed until late spring to avoid confusion during the move. See you then!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Butterfly Taxi" - featuring cute Miss Mouse and anthropomorphic flowers too!

Here's my latest painting, "Butterfly Taxi." I had a lot of fun with it because not only does it feature the well-traveled and VERY cute Miss Mouse, it also has another (rather obscure) subcategory of anthropomorphic art, flower faces. Flower faces are a real challenge - their  faces must be "real" enough to be expressive and believeable, but at the same time the artwork must still be true to the flower being depicted. These three little ladies - Molly, Holly, and Dolly - are the Hollyhock sisters. They are, botanically speaking, double hollyhocks. In reality, they would have more ruffles, but then it would have been more difficult to integrate the faces. If you go to the Gallery at my Whimbletails™ website,  you'll see I've also done a flower face rose and sunflower. 
To visit my online store offering a large variety of great products, gifts, and collectibles featuring all my whimsical animal illustrations, please go to Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Dressed Animal" Illustrator Margaret Tempest (1892 - 1982)

Margaret Tempest began her illustrating career in the 1920s and is best known as the creator of Little Grey Rabbit and Fuzzypeg the hedgehog, characters found in a series of children's books written by British writer Alison Uttley. First published in 1929, the books are still being re-issued today. Margaret Tempest illustrated the first 30 books in the series, continuing to do so until 1970. It was Tempest's distinctive and memorable depiction of these characters which made them instantly identifiable and a household name, but which  ultimately caused a bitter divide between the author and the artist. They violently disagreed not only as to who deserved the most credit for creating the characters, but also over the issue of copyright ownership. Tempest  worked also with numerous other authors and also wrote and illustrated 20 books of her own in the 1940s and 1950s, including the Pinky Mouse and Curley Cobbler series. She was also one of the Medici Society's more popular and enduring artists, publishing her art as collectible postcards for many years.

To visit my online store offering a large variety of great products, gifts, and collectibles featuring all my whimsical animal illustrations, please go to Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor...Adele from Whimbletails™

This my latest painting, called "Shrewy's Farm Stand." Shrewy is a becoming a popular character around the Whimbletails™ world! When he's not busy selling produce to his loyal customers like Mrs. Crow, he also operates the Pumpkin Cafe, dishing out such tasty treats as Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Pie, and faithfully subscribing to the credo, "waste not, want not," even the Pumpkin Seeds. See below! If you'd like to see the complete collection of my Whimbletails™ paintings, please go to my web site by clicking here.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Molly Brett (1902 - 1990)

I give credit to Molly Brett in particular for inspiring me to become an anthropomorphic animal illustrator. Many years ago, I came across a display of Medici Society postcards in a little shop in Boston. I was absolutely fascinated by the whole concept of animals dressed as humans, participating  in human activities! I bought a few cards, eventually lost them, and went on to other types of artwork. But I never forgot the postcards and now, when I look back knowing the styles of many of the Medici artists, I realize it was Molly's work I was admiring. I eventually took the plunge (after deciding it was perfectly okay for "serious" artists to paint cute animals, especially since that's what I wanted to do), and the result is my own collection of cute animal illustrations, called Whimbletails™. Here's a little biographical info on Molly:

Molly (Mary Elizabeth) Brett was born in 1902 and grew up Surrey, Great Britain, surrounded by animals and nature. Her mother, Mary Gould Brett, was a respected animal painter who encouraged her daughter to paint from life, and this is reflected in Molly's gift for making her animals look thoroughly naturalistic while giving them human characteristics and activities. And like Beatrix Potter, her artwork also reflects her great observational powers in depicting nature, especially notable in the two illustrations above.

Molly began her art training with a correspondence course in illustration, followed by formal instruction at Press Art School and the Guilford Art School. It was at Guildford that she met Margaret Tarrant (also destined to attain substantial fame as an illustrator), who soon became a close friend and lived with her in Cornwall. She began her career by illustrating "weekly papers" for children. One of her earliest commissions was to illustrate stories by Enid Blyton. Inspired by this, she went on to write and illustrate 21 books of her own for the Medici Society of London, with whom she was associated for sixty years. Medici has published over 500 of her paintings as postcards, greeting cards and prints.

Molly Brett's work has enchanted generations of children with its beautifully drawn details, subtle colors and magical atmosphere. Her work follows in the tradition of other twentieth-century "dressed animal" illustrators such as Beatrix Potter, Margaret Tempest, Racey Helps, and others.

Would you like to see my own whimsical animal art? Please visit my online store, Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop, featuring a large variety of great products, gifts, and collectibles featuring my own cute animal illustrations.