Eat.Enjoy.Live: Morrison’s art on display

5/4/2017 | G. Michael Dobbs

Category: May 2017

This painted bicycle was a project Morrison and students from the DeBerry School did during his visit.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

Artist Frank Morrison remembers that his first attempt to land a job illustrating a children’s book he was turned down by every publisher who he approached but two.

Since he started, though, Morrison has been in demand and has illustrated more than 20 children’s books.  The American Library Association awarded him the John Steptoe Award for New Talent, which was followed up with a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor award for “Little Melba and her Big Trombone.” His most recent book “Ali: A Champion is Born,” was published in February and has been praised for his “visceral, dynamic action shots.”

Morrison’s paintings are on exhibit at the Art for the Soul Gallery at Tower Square through June 15. “We feel very fortunate to have another highly acclaimed artist show his works at the gallery,” Rosemary Tracy Woods, executive director of Art for the Soul Gallery said.  “We are especially impressed with Mr. Morrison’s care, concern and focus on children and literacy.”

According to biographical information, Morrison, a Massachusetts native, didn’t discover art until he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris when he was touring as a break-dancer with the musical group the Sugar Hill Gang. The classical artwork impressed him so much he started teaching himself painting and illustration.

Morrison was not only at the gallery for an artist’s reception on April 6, but worked with students that day at the DeBerry School and then on April 7 appeared at the Mason Square Library.

In the center of the exhibit is a bicycle decorated with paint Morrison and the students at DeBerry created during his visit with them.

The exhibit has more fine art as well as samples of his illustration and Morrison explained to Reminder Publications the two types of artwork are “totally different gigs.”

In an illustration assignment, Morrison said, “An artist has to do 30 paintings, 180 drawings of one character.”

An average children’s picture book takes three months to complete. “You have to dedicate your time to that,” he added. “A lot of people can’t do that.”

Morrison said an illustrator has to put feeling and emotion into every finished painting.

The one thing that both fine art and illustration share he said is “a good drawing is the basis for a great painting.”

When asked which type of art he enjoys the most, he said that he would take a break from fine art to undertake an illustration job.

“I feel rejuvenated,” he said.

He expressed enthusiasm for a book he just finished titled “The Wrong Man.” He said the story is about a well-meaning superhero who can’t get anything right and whose daughter follows after him correcting his mistakes.

The book called for Morrison to adopt a comic book style of drawing and he said with a smile he bought inks he had never used before and employed techniques such as washes. The new materials and approach made the drawings “that much better.”

For additional information about the exhibit, call 301-6314.

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