I rediscovered Dick Bruna's Christmas book a couple of years ago. Looking for examples of his illustration work online I came across the cover image, and had one of those moments of overwhelming nostalgia when I realised that it was a book I'd had as a small child and loved... but had then forgotten all about. My flatmate was at the time making regular business trips to Utrecht, Bruna's hometown in the Netherlands, so she hunted around for a copy of Kerstmis for me. My edition comes with a dvd featuring Bruna himself reading the story in Dutch, which is a lovely extra feature!
I've chosen my favourite images from the book to show... I think his use of colour and space is absolutely wonderful, and his shapes are somehow incredibly pleasing. For children reading his books, I think there's something quite reassuring about the simplicity of his images. I can remember as a child being influenced by the way he painted the hair on this angel... I remember often drawing children with little wisps or curls like this! There's a wonderful article on Tiarne Van Dyk's blog here about Bruna's working methods, and it's really interesting to see how much effort he put into creating these deceptively simple illustrations. I also love the unusual long format of this book.
This last one is my favourite illustration from the whole book. The use of empty space is great, and I also love how childlike the gesture and expression of the character is.
As a child I was a bit obsessed with Christmas... I wasn't brought up in a religious family, but I loved lots of the rituals associated with it, like the decorations, the advent calendar, and (my favourite thing of all) the stocking at the end of the bed. I have many many drawings that I did as a child on the subject of Christmas, so I thought I'd finish off this post by showing three of them here. The first is this very athletic-looking Father Christmas... who's quite slim and even seems to be wearing some kind of tracksuit with a stripe along the leg. My favourite thing about this image is that I initially didn't make the sleigh long enough to carry all the presents, so I extended it at the back. I also like the nails in the wooden part of the sleigh!
Here's a very geeky snowman...
...and a couple of angels with harps. At this point I was using lots of collage elements in my drawings, and I've made their halos out of tin foil.