I’ve loved Mary Blair since I was little & first read I Can Fly. Isn’t it funny how kids study things so intently? Well I know every brush stroke of every illustration from that book, & when I recently got hold of a first edition copy & flicked through its pages for the first time in over 30 years, it was like being dumped over the head with an ice-cold bucket of ‘OMG, I remember that!’ My favourite picture was the one I’ve featured here, of the little girl as a make-believe worm in her fuzzy green beret & matching cardie. I wanted an outfit just like it when I was 5 – so stylish!
The beauty of Mary Blair’s work is that it’s just as fresh as it was 50 years ago, & her influence extends into the 21st century with so many artists (either consciously or otherwise) borrowing a little something (or a lot) from her style.
There’s so much I could say about her work – about her amazing instinct for colour, how much I love her textures, the way she uses paint, etc, etc – but what I love most is her energy & spontaneity, the boundless sense of joy, & most of all, the memories her art evokes.
The illustrations I’ve posted are scanned from my own collection as follows…
Top Left: from the front flyleaf of The Golden Book of Little Verses by Miriam Clark Potter, first published 1946.
Top Right: also from The Golden Book of Little Verses.
Above Centre: from I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss, first published 1950.
Above Right: from the endpapers of The New Golden Song Book.
Below: Two spot illustrations from The New Golden Song Book, first published 1945.