'In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"
"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."
"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.'
John Vernon Lord
'The Ant and the Grasshopper'
Illustration from wood-engravings
From Aesop's Fables, retold in verse by James Mitchie
Published by Jonathan Cape, London
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.HH.46.
John Vernon Lord (born 1939) used the area around his home in Ditchling, Sussex, as setting for his Aesop's Fables illustrations. His pen and ink drawings are painstaking in their detail and resemble wood engravings. Lord used mapping and Rotring pens and sometimes a blunted ruler for parallel lines. Wax was sometimes added to the paper to resist the ink, giving a luminescence to some of the backgrounds. In an essay on 'Hatching', Lord wrote; "The editing and selection of gap-making is fundamental to drawing… A picture is made up of a balancing between the making, the removing, and the not-making of marks."
Lord has been a prolific illustrator for nearly fifty years as well as teaching illustration at Brighton Art College. His past work includes an album cover for Deep Purple's 'The Book of Taliesyn' in 1968 and book illustrations to 'The Giant Jam Sandwich' in 1972 and 'The Nonsense Verse' by Edward Lear in 1984, both published by Jonathan Cape. He still illustrates, working now with the Inky Parrott Press on Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'.
'A Time to Dance: in which a cricket learns about work the hard way' (The Ant and the Grasshopper)
Ink, watercolour and gouache illustration
From 'Unwitting Wisdom: an Anthology of Aesop's animal fables'
Published by Templar, London.
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.MM.57
Helen Ward is known for her vibrant and dynamic picture books featuring birds or animals. She paints in watercolour and gouache, sometimes removing colour to achieve more tonal variety, and uses a Rapidograph pen for detail. She designs the whole page layout in her picture books, which she says can take about six months to make. Sometimes drawing from life, she also makes use of wildlife films to observe movement.
A major influence was the Ashmolean's Impey collection of Indian 18th century natural history paintings, which impressed her for the "crispness of the execution, and the fact that the drawing, though objective, is not entirely realistic".
Ward studied at Brighton Art School in the 1980s with ambitions to become a natural history illustrator. On graduating, she was approached by publisher Templar and has made illustrated books for them ever since. Recent work includes a contribution to Templar's 'Ologies' series, a picture book 'Wonderful Life' about a rodent who studies wildlife on another planet, and 'Varmints', soon to be an animated film about noise pollution.
'The Ant & Grasshopper. Against Idleness'
From 'The child's illuminated fable-book'
Published by William Smith, London
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.V.25
This ornate image is chromolithography at its most elaborate. An expensive process using a different stone to print each colour, chromolithography was first used just to print one or two overall colours. Later it was used for luxury colour-illustrated gift books from about 1840. The most ornate designs had dozens of bright colours, silver and gold. Cheaper methods replaced chromolithography after 1880.
Lithography, invented by Alois Senefelder in 1798, works on the principle that oil and water repel each other. A design is drawn onto smooth limestone using a greasy medium. The stone is wet and oily ink is applied with a roller. It sticks to the greasy lines but avoids the wet parts of the stone.