The Gift of the Magi

A beautiful Christmas classic illustrated with fresh whimsy.

I just had to share this book and illustrator before Christmas came and left. Lisbeth Zwerger is one of my favorite illustrators. She has a very old fashioned feel to her illustrations with toned backgrounds and stray sketched lines, however the composition (how the image is laid out and cropped, centered or off-centered, etc.) is very unusual and intriguing.

“One dollar and eighty-seven cents is all the money Della has in the world to buy her beloved husband a Christmas present. She has nothing to sell except her only treasure — her long, beautiful brown hair.

Set in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, this classic piece of American literature tells the story of a young couple and the sacrifices each must make to buy the other a gift.Beautiful, delicate watercolors by award-winning illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger add new poignancy and charm to this simple tale about the rewards of unselfish love.”

 If you want to buy a children’s book this Christmas, make it this one. It will warm your heart. 


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James Gurney’s Dinotopia

When I see a beautifully illustrated book, I feel like a kid again
and I’m filled with seemingly opposing feelings of calm and excitement.
Dinotopia Books ©James Gurney

The set of Dinotopia books by illustrator and author James Gurney make me want to curl up in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate while having my sketchbook and paints within reach. What a wonderful new world of aged architecture, beautiful waterfalls, exciting pencil work, informative sketches and diagrams, and a solidly created foreign culture. 

Waterfall City

Waterfall City ©James Gurney

James’ work is stunning with a range of styles throughout – all of which I love. Some pages are filled with sketchy pencil drawings that look like he was standing there quickly sketching the houses, machines and dinosaurs in action knowing he needed to rush away to the next adventure. Other pages are fine art paintings that feel as though they were painted on location with the use of a french easel.

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The Art of Relaxation

Landon & Daddy ©Rebecca FinchLandon & Daddy ©Rebecca Finch

Last month my husband, myself and our 9 month old son went on vacation. It was a wonderful week of. . . nothing. The only plans we made were to relax and vegetate. We stayed at a ministry camp in a house just inside the edge of a thick wooded area at the top of a hill with a view of Canandaigua Lake down below.

I brought my jewelry making supplies, oil paints and sketching materials in the hopes that this leisurely week would allow me to get creative. With a difficult pregnancy and delivery, I wasn’t able to keep up with art as I would have liked and now I feel that I am just now able to devote my time to it. So these paintings and sketches are some of the first renderings I’ve done in about 2 years, . . so take that into consideration as I know they are not up to par.

Ducky Sketch ©Rebecca Finch

While I took the time to read art magazines and books and didn’t have to do anything but sketch and paint if I wanted to, I learned a few things and made some goals and decisions. I feel ready to work hard to make time for more art in my life.

Sketching: It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes really, but it’s fundamental to keeping those drawing skills sharp. I enjoyed pulling out some of my baby’s toys for some quick drawing time.

Thanks for Noticin' ©Rebecca FinchThanks for Noticin’ ©Rebecca Finch

I enjoyed painting Landon’s toys also. I think I had a real connection to the rubber ducky (I sure painted him enough times) however those cups and the ellipses gave me a run for my money. When I finished up this little one, I had a feeling that one day when I was able to pursue my persistent desire for children’s book illustration that perhaps I had stumbled on a style worth trying. Fine art still life, with a slight painterly line drawing. We’ll have to see where this takes me and how it develops.

Ducky and Stacking Cups ©Rebecca FinchSome of my goals include sketching more often, painting during my baby’s naps, reading about art more than I do, blogging more often, and I plan on beefing up this website after I complete a few art projects. So keep watching.

You're the One ©Rebecca FinchYou’re the One ©Rebecca Finch