Where the Wild Things Are

Art is defined as a representation of human creativity and imagination. Artwork is created when artists add immense depth and meaning to the medium that they are associated with. Artists can transform simple mediums into exceptional masterpieces by incorporating a variety of lighting, shading, balance, color, background, texture, and composition techniques. A true piece of art can stimulate a number of senses leaving the viewer in total awe. Art interpretation centers on the composition and the representation of the artwork. Sometimes pieces of art can mirror and reflect previous pieces. For example, there are several similarities between the illustration, “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, and the painting “The Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks.

“The Peaceable Kingdom” 1834

Even though both art pieces share many of the same features, each piece was created for a different purpose. Edward Hicks was an American folk painter. Edward was also a dedicated Quaker preacher who funded his travel expenses through his paintings. He first painted “The Peaceable Kingdom” in 1820. “The Peaceable Kingdom” is not deemed a religious image, although it represents many Quaker beliefs. Edward incorporated the idea of unity between animals and children directly from the book of Isaiah 11:6-8. In his memoirs, Edward notes that the kingdom is not entirely of this world, which infers his representation of a spiritual world. Edward was able to convey his religious beliefs through his artwork. Edward was so devoted to spreading his truth about religion, that he created 60 different versions of “The Peaceable Kingdom.”

“Where the Wild Things Are” 1963

Maurice Sendak was a children’s book author and illustrator. His illustration, “Where the Wild Things Are” was first published in 1963. His illustration was created for his masterpiece book titled, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Sendak brought a new twist to children’s literature. His story and illustrations were dark and ominous. Unlike the usual accounts of happy and virtuous tales, Sendak captivated his viewers with stories and illustrations of grotesque yet gentle monsters. Sendak created his illustration to amuse children. Each art piece was created with a different intention. Edward’s painting was intended to enlighten his viewers, while Sendak’s illustration was intended to entertain his audience.

The subject matter for each piece is very similar. The painting, “The Peaceable Kingdom” depicts a view of young children playing with different creatures of the forest. The painting includes several animals located within the foreground, middle ground, and background. The painting shows a bear, a lion, a tiger, a leopard, an ox, along with numerous other smaller animals. There are several little children and a young maiden interacting with the animals. The background displays lush trees, gorgeous mountains, and a serene lake. The background also shows an exchange of friendship between some pilgrims and Native Americans. The subject matter of “The Peaceable Kingdom” displays an unusual relationship between young children and wild animals.

The contemporary illustration of “Where the Wild Things Are” shows a similar scene. Sendak’s illustration depicts two large animals and an adolescent child. “Where the Wild Things Are” portrays a strong interaction between the child and the creatures. Sendak’s piece includes a lush tree, and a very peaceful night sky in the background. The foreground is dominated by the small child, a lion creature, and an animal that somewhat resembles a goat. Sendak’s image displays an unrealistic bond between a young child and the creatures. Both pieces portray an unlikely friendship between wild animals and children.

In “The Peaceable Kingdom,” the creatures appear really friendly. All the animals are painted in a nonthreatening stance. The animals seem tame and calm. Edwards creates a very friendly atmosphere. In the background, the serene lake gives an extremely peaceful tone to the image. This is also evident in Sendak’s illustration. In “Where the Wild Things Are,” the hideous monsters appear really friendly. The animals are drawn with smiles and happy facial expressions. Sendak incorporates a tranquil sky into his image. Sendak also generates a pleasant tone in his illustration. Both pieces are crafted with kind animals and peaceful impressions.

Each piece incorporates different elements. “The Peaceable Kingdom” displays a warm color pallet. Edward uses earth tones to portray his scene. Soft shadows and a light contrast help give viewers a calming feeling. Edward incorporates the rule of three in his painting. Viewers are confined to a triangle that can be found within the piece. Edwards employs thin brush strokes to add fine detail to his painting.

Sendak’s image displays the use of a cool color pallet. His cool colors illustrate the beautiful and calm night sky. Harsh highlights and contrast add excitement and exhilaration to Sendak’s piece. Sendak also incorporates the rule of three in his image. Viewers are confined to a triangle that interlocks all three characters within the piece. Sendak uses hatching and cross hatching to help give texture to each of his characters. Although each piece incorporates different elements, both images share the rule of three.

Even though Sendak and Edward created their artwork for different purposes, both pieces share many of the same qualities. Edward’s painting and Sendak’s illustration both center on the idea of unlikely friendships between children and wild animals. Both art pieces transform wild or hideous beasts into friends. Each work of art gives the viewer a calming feeling. Sendak and Edward uses a combination of different art techniques, but they both use the rule of three. Both Edwards “The Peaceable Kingdom” and Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” center on unrealistic bonds between creatures and children in a very peaceful fashion.


One thought on “Where the Wild Things Are

  1. Pingback: Parting Shots | National Parks, Landscape Art & American Imagination

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