I & Q: Charles van Sandwyk

(Note: I & Q from this time forth shall stand for the series of blog posts listed under "Illustrations and Quotations." There are just too many letters in the full version to fit in a post title, so this version stands. Consider this series the upping of your artistic and literary "IQ.") Today, oh today, I bring you an artist and illustrator whose work is a source of recurring delight and marvel to me. I stumbled upon my first glimpse of Charles van Sandwyk at a tiny art shop in a remote corner of Prince Edward Island. Tucked in between island souvenirs was a table spread with greeting cards and what looked like hand-made books, all with intricate, richly colored illustrations of friendly rabbits, reading lions, or talkative birds, tucked in a frame of delicately etched vines that reminded me of medieval illumination.

I bought three cards that day, one of which I framed and keep always in my room at home. But a bit of scouting on the web revealed a whole lovely world of van Sandwyk illustrations, and with it, a collection of books geared to children, and the childhearted, whose celebration of friendship, whose love of the intricate, seasonal earth, and whose revel in the marvels of imagination have started me collecting for my own one day home. I'll admit, it's hard to find these affordably. But since the Folio Society had C.V.S. illustrated their edition of The Wind in the Willows, the books are at least a little easier to find.

Great beauty is always worth marking, and this is an artist whose work brings richness to whatever room or mind it graces, even if just through a single framed card or perhaps one special book. I think van Sandwyk is rare in his vision of the world; his value for care in the craft of his art, his attention to the tiniest detail of illustration is a statement of chosen care in a hurry-up culture that rarely takes enough time to look. His pictures invite you to glance, then stay, then see, then breathe. And take, it is to be hoped, a little joy. Regardless, I hope you revel in the rich world this artists has made and offered in his work, and I hope you taste that tang of an earthy beauty that is also otherworldly all at once, the kind that almost tingles with the energy of a vivid imagination at work.

And if you're curious after the taste below, go for a wander round the artists official website here, atCVS Fine Arts. There are links to various bookshops carrying his work. But if you just want a card or two to frame, I recommend the lovely Oakwood Gardens. They've helped me many a time and their page includes a an excellent artist's statement and biography. And lastly, go here for fun encounter of my own with the mind behind "The Fairy Press."

Todays illustrations:


And a few quotes from The Wind in the Willows, one of my favorite children's books of all time, and the one van Sandywck richly illustrated for the illustrious Folio Society:

“The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.” 

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

“As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot. For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime.” 

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

“All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.” 

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows