Peter Malone of Bath, England was born on February 21, 1953 and completed his education at the Winchester School of Art and the Coventry School Of Art (“Malone, Peter 1953”). He is married to Helen who is a picture restorer and they have two children.
Malone is a painter and illustrator. He taught painting, drawing, and design at the Bournemouth School of Art in Bournemouth, England. In addition, he worked as a studio assistant to artist Howard Hodgkin (“Malone, Peter 1953”).
It took Malone some time to realize his ambition of becoming an illustrator. Aside from teaching, he painted mostly for his own amusement (“Peter Malone”).
For the past 15 years, he has illustrated more than 20 books both for adults and children in the USA and Britain. He has also created a variety of book jackets, wine labels, editorial work, CD covers, and stamps.
As a bit of trivia, Malone got his inspiration for writing his highly acclaimed work Close to the Wind from having lived near Captain Beaufort’s home in Manchester Street (“Peter Malone at the Royal Academy of Arts”). He also later found the captain’s tomb when he moved back to Hackney. In addition, he got to experience England’s strongest storm since 1704 in 1987 when he actually felt his home’s 18-inch thick walls slightly swaying.
He holds art exhibits in New York and London and has received two bronze awards from the Association of Illustrators, as well as the American Meteorological Society Fiction Prize for Close to the Wind in 2009 (“Peter Malone Prints”).
Peter Malone’s Artistic Style
Peter Malone uses gouache and watercolor. He is known for his detailed and elegant paintings. Star Shape, in particular, illustrates animals on earth gazing at the constellations at night. This received praises from Susan Dove Lempke (337), a Booklist contributor, who says that Malone’s paintings are evocative and lush. A contributor of Publisher’s Weekly also commented that Malone’s "still, shadowy gouache illustrations evoke the subtle patina of old copper or leather" (“Malone, Peter 1953”).
Close to the Wind is a non-fiction work that Peter Malone wrote and illustrated himself. It describes the system developed by Sir Francis Beaufort for the estimation of the wind forces at sea. The book describes the 13-point wind scale that Beaufort created, and which sailors in the 1800s used as a way to describe wind conditions. Both informative and creative, Malone was able to present the Royal Navy officer’s scientific work in an interesting manner.
Of The Forest Child, a Publishers Weekly contributor remarks, ”stately illustrations, at once ethereal and earthy” (“Review of The Forest Child” 85) while another critic of the said periodical said that Malone “uses a sure, deft hand to create gouache paintings that interpret, rather than simply illustrate the theme” (Malone, Peter 1953”).
Malone’s work ranges from descriptive realism “to a more formal stylization that produces a dramatic visual poetry” (“Peter Malone”). The unique distinction of his work results from his great abilities for recall, visualization, and observation combined with some dry wit and his influences from European art.
This influence is evident in The Magic Flute, which contained “luxurious paintings” (“Review of the Magic Flute” 74) of characters in formal eighteenth-century costumes, and which portrayed a theatrical setting. This is the same for the illustrations in Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, which accurately depict the highly decorative Russian art, with its bright colors and meticulous details (“Review of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf” 811). In the School Library Journal, Sophie R. Brookover (166) describes Malone’s art as having a mythical and dreamy feel, which allows viewers to see them from the composers’ minds.
Also allowing viewers to view Malone’s perspectives of dreams are the colorful paintings in The Drowsy Hours: Poems for Bedtime. These illustrations perfectly complement the 16 poems in the book that are appropriate for night-time reading. In addition, Barbara Buckley (116) complimented The Kingfisher Book of Fairy Tales for the vivid images that hold a great appeal for children (“Malone, Peter 1953”). Similarly, Malone’s illustrations in Adventures of Odysseus have a very vivid presentation of the medieval times, making any boy “dream of quests” (Craig 60).
It can be noted that hat the brilliant colors of Malone’s images are applauded by art critics. Some of these note-worthy illustrations are those in The World of King Arthur and His Court: People, Places, Legend, and Lore where the images make the diverse text more distinct. Another is the book How Many Miles to Bethlehem? where the illustrations add more drama to the text (“Malone, Peter 1953”).
Peter Malone was also selected by the Royal Mail to create a series of stamps that celebrate children’s classic stories such as Alice in Wonderland, The Borrowers, and the Narnian Tales (“Peter Malone at the Royal Academy of Arts”). In 2011, he was again asked by Royal Mail and Together Design to create Christmas stamps. This time, the theme of his stamps was based on the gospels of Luke and Matthew (“Peter Malone Christmas Stamps!”).
A Review of Peter Malone’s Work
This section takes a closer look at two of Peter Malone’s works to get a better understanding of his style.
Cixi “The Dragon Empress”
This book by Natasha Yim features the illustrations of Peter Malone. It tells the story of a young Chinese girl who left her family to escape an oppressive upbringing where she felt unwanted. She went on to become a concubine and later an Imperial Consort who was one of the highest-ranking wives of the Emperor. She lived a life of luxury and prestige. She also had the power to influence and instigate changes.
It depicts a story of courage and determination. It encourages women – basically anyone – to aspire to be more than what society dictates and to reach for their dreams and goals (Irenesroth “Book Review: Cixi”).
This story is made even more interesting and beautiful with Malone’s illustrations. As evident in his previous works, he again creates colorful and vivid illustrations for this book. As if to transport the reader to Cixi’s time, the illustrations depict the Chinese culture at the time – their clothes, food, and their activities. As is also customary with Peter Malone’s work, his illustrations – indeed, the entire story – provides an educational value.
Although the mood of this book is sad for the most part, it is also inspiring and enlightening. Moreover, it provides a depth that is not usually found in children’s books.
Mary Tudor “Bloody Mary”
This picture book by Gretchen Maurer and Peter Malone has a historical and religious theme (Irenesroth “Book Review: Mary Tudor” ).
It depicts the many challenges and trials that Protestants and Catholics experienced in the fifteenth century in England. During this time, there was so much conflict between the two groups.
Although Protestants seemed to be more predominant than the Catholics, the main character Mary decided to side with the Catholics. She was deeply troubled by the division between the two groups and by choosing to be a Catholic was constantly put to the test by the Protestants.
Mary’s wish of becoming the queen of England came true, and she was perceived as truthful, brave, and compassionate. She rebuilt Catholic churches and universities and paved the way for future female leaders of the country.
Again, Peter Malone uses vivid colors in his illustrations and effectively portrays English life in the fifteenth century. Again, this book has an educational value. Although the story depicts a lot of chaos and unrest, in the end it gives the message of hope peace, and perseverance.
Peter Malone in Comparison with Other Illustrators
Peter Malone is among the well known and well-respected illustrators of our time. Others of his caliber include Matilda Harrison, Daniel Barry, Levi Pinfold, Grahame Baker-Smith, Alan Aldridge, Wayne Anderson, Peter Cross, Maurice Sendak, David McKean, Antoine Corbineau, and Alan Lee.
Just like Malone, the work of Matilda Harrison renders well for children’s books and narrative illustrations. She uses acrylics with tiny brushes in her paintings and paints with great detail. Her work is mostly influenced by naïve and folk art (Matilda Harrison” Arena Illustration).
Another similarity to Peter Malone’s work is that her illustrations are effective in telling stories. They help viewers easily make sense of a series of events. Her illustrations consist of a central figure with visual episodes spun around it. Again, just like Peter Malone, her illustrations produce a trance-like or dream-like feel (“Matilda Harrison” Hybrid).
Unlike Peter Malone whose illustrations are created for children’s books, Daniel Barry’s work centers mainly on comic books. As such, his methods are quite different from Malone when creating his illustrations.
Barry usually makes use of brush pens, fountain pens, or dip pens, giving his illustrations sharp edges in contrast to Malone’s illustrations, which have a softer feel. Barry also makes use of an aqua brush to create tone and texture after he has laid down some ink. He then uses Adobe Photoshop to add color to his illustrations (“Featured Artist: Dan Barry”).
Levi Pinfold is a new and emerging artist. Another great story teller, he usually takes responsibility for writing the text and creating the illustrations for his books. He usually prefers to complete the text before he starts creating the illustrations. He also takes his time as he likes to add a lot of details in them. Some of his influences are comics, books, and fine art.
Similar to Malone, Pinfold’s style is that of stylized realism where he creates imagery from his imagination. He also paints in gouache and watercolors, as well as in tempera, which is a mixture of pigment with water and egg. Tempera has the same light touch as gouache but dark underwashes can be laid down with it (“About Levi Pinfold”).
Grahame Baker Smith is an illustrator who combines technology with traditional media. Unlike Malone who mostly uses gouache and watercolor, Baker-Smith makes use of more varied media such as pen and ink, pencil and pastel, gouache, acrylic, and watercolor. He also uses charcoal and paint. In addition, he has been using Adobe Photoshop in recent years for polishing his work.
He usually uses a lot of natural textures, paints figures, takes pictures, and draws by hand then fills these drawings with various textures using technology (Vellacott). This gives some of his illustrations a 3D quality. His illustrations are also mostly created with themes of outer space, which has greatly fascinated him in his childhood.
Alan Aldridge is another artist who combines his art with technology. Although he has done work for children’s books, the most popular of which is Butterfly Ball and Grasshopper Feast, Aldridge is best known for his work on album covers, which allowed him to work with the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, and Incubus among others.
Unlike Peter Malone’s work, which has a dreamy and ethereal quality, Aldridge’s illustrations are described as having “a flowing, cartoony style and soft airbrushing” (“Alan Aldridge”), which conformed to the psychedelic styles of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
He uses Japanese brush pens on vellum for his illustrations. He then scans his illustrations and improves their outlines using Adobe Photoshop. He prints the Photoshop images and manually does the initial coloring then edits the images again on Photoshop where he touches up and tones the images. The final digital image is produced after the illustrations are perfected (Computer Arts).
Wayne Anderson shares the same style of realism that Peter Malone uses in some of his work. Just like Peter Malone, he is also fond of illustrating enchanting creatures, bringing a magical feel to his work (“Secrets of the Artists”). However, unlike Peter Malone who uses vivid colors in his illustrations, Wayne Anderson’s illustrations mostly make use of neutral colors – grays, blacks, browns, and yellows. He also creates a lot of art work whose themes revolve around the wild life, which has fascinated him since he was a child (“Wayne Anderson: Biography”). He sorts through numerous specimens, plant life, and photographs to get the actual measurements and color matching. He usually creates the images with full color backgrounds and uses colored pencils, ink, and watercolor.
Although Maurice Sendak and Peter Malone both write and illustrate for children’s books, the main difference in their works lies in their themes and the stories they tell. Peter Malone’s work can be described as tame and subtle compared to that of Sendak. Malone’s work has a pacifying and soothing effect on children whereas Sendak’s works are more adventure-filled, which children may find scary or fun, depending on the child’s orientation.
Although a well acclaimed illustrator who has received numerous awards, Sendak has caused a lot of controversy with his work. His book Where the Wild Things Are was met with a lot of protests from parents who thought that the fanged monsters illustrated in the book would be too scary for young children (Hulbert). Even his book In the Night Kitchen was subjected to censorship due to a naked boy walking around throughout the story (“100 Most Frequently Challenged”).
Possibly the work that is most in contrast to the work of Peter Malone is that of David McKean, with their audience as one of their main differences. While Malone’s illustrations are created to appeal to children, the works of McKean are intended more for adults, with the latter’s work mostly consisting of short comic, book covers, CD covers, and graphic novels, although he has also created images for tarot cards, post cards, and playing cards (Fitzpatrick).
While Peter Malone uses gouache and watercolor as his media, McKean uses a wide range of media such as digital art, drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, and collage.
While Malone’s illustrations are meant to delight children, McKean’s are meant to invoke fear in the viewer. It can be noted that most of McKean’s work is used for suspenseful and dark stories. Unlike Malone’s illustrations, which bring the characters of a book to life, McKean’s work can be described as sinister and warped, making his images appear strange and incoherent (Fitzpatrick).
This is not to say that McKean is incapable of creating art with a lighter tone, such as his books where he created illustrations of the cities he has visited. In these books that are titled Postcards from the city where he’s been, the images appear clearer and more simplistic. This simplistic approach can also be seen in Squink, which contains illustrations that are inspired by cinema, McKean’s travels, music, and life. They are printed in black and white, and although having a lighter tone than his other works, McKean’s work is still obviously in a different genre from Malone’s.
Corbineau’s work is very distinct from Malone’s. While Malone’s illustrations tell stories in and of themselves, which viewers and readers can easily make sense of, Corbineau’s art can be described as creative chaos and very complex. There’s no single way of interpreting them as each viewer is bound to have their own interpretation. He draws “complex networks, links,” connections, and anything linked to another (“Interview with Illustrator Antoine Corbineau”) -- a style that appeals to many brands.
Although his paintings are very colorful and complex, he still makes sure that there is balance in his art work by creating a global interdependence where “every area has a role on the visual overall balance” (“Interview with Illustrator Antoine Corbineau”).
He attributes the playfulness of his artwork to his inability to draw and his influences from Western African paintings and art books, as well as naïve or folk art.
Illustrator of the famed Lord of the Rings trilogy, Alan Lee describes his style as a combination of realistic and romantic (“Alan Lee”) with influences from artists like Charles Robinson and Arthur Rackham (Vadeboncoeur). He uses watercolor in a classic romantic style where the images do not have a black bounding line.
Although he creates illustrations for children’s books just as Peter Malone does, his style, techniques, and subjects are much more diverse. In The Golden Book of the Mysterious, his illustrations had the theme of aliens, airplanes, and space shuttles while in The Mabinogion he draws visions of ogres, dragons, maidens and magic, nights and kings. Here, he shares a similarity with Peter Malone who also likes to create illustrations with medieval settings and that portray the enchanting. However, Lee goes further to place illustrated, painted borders around the pages of his book and add drawings on the chapter heads using his pen and ink.
Aside from using watercolor, Lee is also a master at creating beautiful art using a pencil. This is evident in the book Castles that also displays the influence of British and European romance and fairy tale in his work (Vadeboncoeur). Merlin Dreams is another of his work where he incorporates pencil drawings with watercolor.
Adding to the diversity of his work is his creation of holographic images in The Mirrostone, which show a true three-dimensional depth.
It should be noted that his work is not only confined to printed material but extends very well to movies, too.
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