My Post at the End of a Long Day In Which I Treat Myself to Beautiful Art and Share It With You

h1 September 2nd, 2009 by jules

This is illustrator Julie Paschkis’ cover art (click to enlarge) for Rachel Rodríguez’s new picture book biography of one of the 19th century’s boldest artists, architect Antoni Gaudí. Building on Nature: The Life of Anton Gaudí, published by Henry Holt this month, is that other picture book biography I promised to cover this week, but I’m not going to say much. And that’s because it’s been one of THOSE long, way-too-busy days that wears one out. I think pausing to soak in some Paschkis-art—beautiful, always beautiful—is just what I need right now: Julie’s art reminds me to slow down and take it all in better.

But I do have enough energy to say: This book is beautiful. Rodríguez and Paskchis are the same wonder duo who brought us Through Georgia’s Eyes, the gorgeous biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, and this book possesses the same strong writing (the spare, immediate, poetic text) and Julie’s impressive ability to evoke the subject’s vision “without ever seeming like mere imitation” (as Kirkus put it for Through Georgia’s Eyes.) For the art for this title, Julie traveled to Barcelona to see Gaudí’s architecture and his homeland. And it shows in her detailed and luminescent art, a most reverent tribute to the architect known for his unique, graceful designs and who obtained natural forms in his work: “Gaudí’s buildings curve and arch. They sparkle and glitter and whisper with joy,” writes Rodríguez.

And so does Julie’s art. As you may remember from last year, I’m a big fan. I thank her for sharing some illustrations today from the book, along with some sketches for us Illustration Junkies. Let’s just soak in the beauty, shall we? Just what we need at the end of a long day, I say:

“He designs a gate for his friend Güell’s country home. A dragon perches atop diamonds and squares, baring his fangs and slithery tongue. Gaudí’s creations get braver. For Güell’s Palace in town, Gaudí builds a curving ramp to a basement stable. Horses clomp down to it. Upstairs, sunlight enters a domed ceiling. The family enjoys their salon beneath a starry sky.”
(Click image to enlarge.)

Julie’s sketch (click to enlarge) for the left side of the above spread.

“A long bench snakes around a playground. Gaudí’s workers smash old tiles, glass, and plates to bits. They decorate the endless curving bench. Gaudí praises his talented craftsmen. Visitors pour in to celebrate Gaudí’s vision of Catalonia.”
(Click to enlarge.)

Julie’s sketch (click to enlarge) of the above illustration.

“Gaudí grows older, and still he works on his Holy Family Church. He uses the lessons from all his other buildings and dedicates his final years to it. Tile and Venetian glass encrust soaring towers. Inside, light filters through a stone forest.”
(Click to enlarge.)

Julie’s sketch (click to enlarge) of the above illustration.

“Gaudí’s buildings curve and arch. They sparkle and glitter and whisper with joy. They stand waiting for you to see with your very own eyes.”
(Click to enlarge.)

* * * * * * *

BUILDING ON NATURE: THE LIFE OF ANTONI GAUDI. Text copyright © 2009 by Rachel Rodríguez. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Julie Paschkis. Published by Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY. All sketches and images reproduced by permission of the illustrator. All rights reserved.

17 comments to “My Post at the End of a Long Day In Which I Treat Myself to Beautiful Art and Share It With You”

  1. I want to live in a color-filled mosaic like this.

    The picture of the Catalonia is my favorite. The touches of blue dance from the serpentine wall, to a sailor suit, to a long skirt, to a round-bellied Mama, and back. The people circle, the wall undulates, and it’s all a sinuous dance of life and color and beauty. I think I need this book… and to take a mosaic class. Wow. Thanks for sharing this uplifting beauty.

  2. I love Julie’s art. Her collaborations with poet Janet Wong are otherworldly creations of beauty! This book looks fascinating, too. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. In real life I kind of like my walls and floors and ceilings kind of plain, Shaker style. But I would love to live in book time here. I love how Julie’s art takes you so many places from book to book and teaches in the most enjoyable way. Thanks for posting the great words and pictures, Jules!

  4. Stunning!

  5. Lovely curved shapes!

  6. I would have missed this book if not for your post–thank you, thank you!

  7. Such a wonderful illustrator–her work is so gorgeous and lush and SATISFYING. Twist by Janet Wong is one of my favorites, but I also love Yellow Elephant by Julie Larios. Thanks for this post!

  8. Thanks, Jules. I love Julie’s picture book art! Her illustrations are bold and strong. And Julie’s not afraid to use color! Her art always helps to bring a writer’s text to life for me. I think I’m going to have to order a copy of this book.

  9. If you look at the very end of the bench in the Guell Park painting you will see Gaudi sitting on the bench and a workmen adding tiles. I had forgotten he was there until I looked at the paintings on the blog today!

  10. Funny – I was just going to ask if that was Gaudi sitting on the bench and then saw Julie’s comment. I love her use of color – the mosaics almost look like photographs, they are so bright and perfectly textured. I didn’t know about the O’Keefe book, but will look for it now – Georgia is one of my favorite artists. How interesting to have one artist interpreting another artist’s work – a true homage. And Julie’s website is gorgeous! Thanks for the post, Jules!

  11. Gorgeous. The curving bench is wondrous and amazing. Love Julie’s work.

  12. This looks like a fabulous book. As you say, Jules, it’s a great talent in an illustrator of books about artists — to capture the feel of the work without copying; Julie Paschkis clearly has that talent in spades. I bet Gaudi’s as tickled to see this book from his cloud as we are to see it from down here.

    If the book intrigues you about Gaudi as much as it intrigued me, you might be interested in a BBC documentary from last year. In it, the art critic Robert Hughes looks at Gaudi as “God’s architect”; “Despite his austerely religious lifestyle, Gaudi’s innovative genius created some of the most soulful and expressive buildings ever.” (Soulfulness: one of my favorite things.)

    A kind soul has cut up the one-hour documentary into seven separate YouTube clips. Here‘s the main page for the playlist.

    Thank you so much, Jules, for the gorgeous blow-ups!

    [If I managed to write this comment from my Blackberry with no typos, I’ll fall over.]

  13. Stunning work! I remember visiting this church as an early teen. There were so many things to discover hidden here and there. I have a photo of a snail standing in as a gargoyle.

  14. I LOVED Through Georgia’s Eyes, and I love what I’ve seen of this one today. Thanks, Jules and Julie!

  15. How exciting to come upon this post as I do some serious “catch up” blog browsing. I may be in Barcelona in late fall and have already declared Gaudi to be tops on my list of “observations.” Thank you for the posting!

  16. Fingers crossed this gets some attention from the Caldecott people. I have an interview of Julie (plus sketches – some used, some not – of her cover art) over at Jacket Knack this week.

  17. Thanks, Julie! Can’t wait to read that!

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