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The Curious George Comparisons

I don't know what H.A. Rey's reaction was when he learned he'd have to redo all of the watercolor paintings he'd done for CURIOUS GEORGE, but the results suggest that he came to embrace the additional work with enthusiasm. Can you see the little smiles on the flowers, lizard, and butterly? They're all new.

Whereas he'd used a full palette of color on the originals, the financial restrictions of the time meant he could only use magenta, blue, yellow, and black to create his scenes (in a technique known as "color separation." )

The limitation of color turned out to be a plus, sharpening the visuals overall. George took on a magenta glow and perhaps this change from a "realistic" brown to a more fanciful coloration led H.A. Rey to conceive of George even more deeply.

Throughout he made small moves that added impact to every scene. It's hard to pick what to show below. I was struck by how losing the sidewalk detail makes the picture more immediate. The scene of George landing on the traffic light has been flopped (and the little dog added) to great effect. The way the water curves in the rowboat scene is again a small move, but it sings. And now there are three small fish for George to look at!

I'm putting together a more detailed presentation comparing the changes for the class I'll be teaching on Sunday afternoons starting Feb. 7th at Pratt Manhattan with author-illustrator Steve Henry. If you are an illustrator or just like to draw and want to work on a picture book, we'd love to see you there. Online: Register for course # PMFA-451-01 Phone registration: 855.551.7727.

The Curious George project started when I ran across "The Original Curious George" in the library. It's the "Collector's Edition, printed from H.A. Rey's original watercolors" and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1998. I'm comparing it to the 67th printing of Curious George published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941.


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