I was really chuffed to come across this Brian Wildsmith book The Owl and the Woodpecker in the
second-hand section of my local bookshop the other day. Not in the best condition, however at $4 I wasn't complaining!
The book (published in 1971) tells the story of an owl and a woodpecker who live in a far-away forest. The woodpecker lives in a tree where he sleeps all night and works all day - however - in the tree next door lives an owl, who likes to work all night and sleep all day! All the animals in the forest get together to resolve the disagreement between the angry birds, so that peace can return to the forest.
It's the fabulous illustrations by Brian Wildsmith that captured my attention - Wildsmith has created a series of lively, expressive and frenetic animal illustrations to accompany the story. Painted in what appears to be layers of gouache, oil pastel and the occasional use of collage, the multi-textural illustrations are playful and portray a sense of movement and energy on each page.
I love Brian Wildsmith's freedom and relaxed illustrative style, and these colourful animal illustrations are really delightful (the photographs don't do them justice)..... and they make me want to rewind my life by several years and go to study illustration at college!
There are some more examples of Brian Wildsmith's work on my blog here and here.