Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bible pictures: Cartoon Vs Realism

I would be interested to know your views on the above topic. So I've added a poll for you to vote on, at the bottom of the right hand column. Please spare a minute to vote.
(The poll is now closed. The results are below).

Most of the Bible pictures we produce are in a realistic style, apart from the parables, which I tend to do in a cartoon style.
We have found that those involved in presenting the Bible message to children prefer their pictures to be reasonably realistic. Some people are understandably turned off by cartoon depictions of the crucifixion.

I went into my local christian bookshop last week to browse, and I was amazed to find hardly any new children's Bibles containing realistic illustration. Nearly every new Bible on offer was a cartoon version.
Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent cartoon Bibles out there, and I think that there's room for Bibles illustrated in all styles. What bothers me is the lack of choice on offer. I'm not sure that christian publishers have their finger firmly on the pulse on this one.

When we brought out our '3D books', a few years ago, two were in a cartoon style, and two were realistic. The publisher predicted that the cartoon versions would outsell the others.
In fact, the reverse happened! The realistic style outsold the cartoon style by 2 to 1.

What happened to all the artists like J J Tossot, William Hole, Harold Copping, Henry Coller and of course, Frank Hampson?
Great Bible artists who all travelled to the Holy land to gather visual references and produced some of the best realistic Bible illustrations to date.

Let us know your opinion by voting in the poll!

The poll is now closed:
175 voted for Realistic Bible illustration.
15 voted for Cartoon Bible illustration.
3 voted as having no preference.
Many thanks for your votes and interest in the subject.

'Project Michelangelo'

A few years ago, we decided to involve the children who attend the church youth club in the painting of a mural, (with a Bible theme), to be on permanent display in the church hall. We had no idea how long in would take, but we decided to try and complete it during the six week school holidays.

All the kids and leaders arrived, dressed in their scruffs, and work began. We started by painting 5 sheets of plywood, (8'x4'), with white paint. Then we transferred the picture from the small version, that I had done in advance, to the full-size boards. I intended keeping tight control over this process, but found that the older kids wanted to copy parts of the picture themselves.

All of the boards were painted flat on the floor, with plenty of space around them. This way, 3 or 4 children could comfortably work on each board. Special attention had to be paid to using the same colors on parts of the image that crossed from one board to another. (this didn't always happen!)

The whole project was a great success, and was completed on time!
It was both fun and educational. We were able to spend time talking about the Bible stories that we were painting. The children enjoyed learning how to mix colors, how to paint a metal effect, (see Goliath's helmet), and how to paint marble pillars, (see Samson). Every age and ability was involved. The very young were given large areas to paint in a certain color, like a gigantic coloring book. This wasn't always neat, but the older children tided it up later.

We had a lot of fun too. some evenings ended up with a big paint fight! and everyone went home covered head to foot in paint! Great fun. Don't try this if you haven't got washable floors! All in all, it was a great bridge-building event.

The finished mural, (pictured above), was a massive 8' high by 20' long! It depicted 14 scenes taken from both the 'Old' & 'New Testaments'. There were about 20 children involved, ranging in age from about 5 to 13 years old.

A few weeks ago, one of the kids involved in the mural came to see me for a reference for a job that she was applying for, (she is 17 now). While I was photocopying her form, I noticed that one of the questions was, "What achievement to date, are you most proud of?" Her answer was, "Painting a mural at my local church". It wasn't until then that I realized just how much the painting of that mural meant to those kids.

I suggested to the kids that we should try a 'Sistine chapel' type picture next, for the ceiling! They can't wait!!!