Timothy Bush

Timothy Bush - illustration for Benjamin McFadden and the Robot Babysitter
Timothy Brush is a children’s book illustrator originally from Pennsylvania and, after living in Illinois, Ohio and Texas as well as Vienna, Rome and the Greek Islands, is now settled in New York City.

Bush studied literature in college and is self-taught as an artist. He points out (jokingly, I hope) that he is “completely unqualified to do what I do”. Were he serious, I would have to disagree, of course, as I think he is admirably suited to his role as a children’s book illustrator; both because of his delightful illustrations, and because of the way he describes his school visits.

Not only does he take the time to talk to school classes about the process of illustration and the creation of books, he makes a point of showing them that the real world process of being an artist or writer isn’t a fantasy story, and that professional artists have difficulties, setbacks and disappointments, as well as successes, just as kids do. His talks usually include reading aloud and sessions with everyone drawing together.

Bush’s illustration style varies from simple, almost cartoon-like line and color drawings, to more elaborate and textured watercolor paintings.

You can view his online portfolio either by category, such as action, animals, landscape, etc, or by book title. The two viewing paths are only partially redundant, and there are images to be found in both areas that are not repeated in the other.

In referencing his illustrations by book title, my favorites are Grunt! The Primitive Cave Boy and Benjamin McFadden and the Robot Babysitter (image above). These are some of his more detailed illustrations. The former leans more toward adult book illustration, with realistic landscapes as a backdrop for cartoonish characters and nicely rendered prehistoric mammals. The latter is a visual treat, with lots of rich details, textures and fanciful designs. Robot Babysitter has just been optioned as a feature film by Walt Disney Pictures.

I was also struck by his illustrations for Janey and the Famous Author, in which he again blends somewhat stylized characters with realistic backgrounds, in particular nicely rendered watercolor landscapes and architecture. In these, Bush uses texture and lighting in the backgrounds to create an effective emotional tone for particular points in the story.

[Link via Ann Marshall (see my post on Ann Marshall)]

9 Replies to “Timothy Bush”

  1. An excellent introduction to Tim’s work — I would simply add “James in the House of Aunt Prudence” to the list of outstanding work: it is not only a dizzyingly goofy story, but has the most impressive illustrations I have ever encountered in children’s books…

  2. It is the particular combination of witty story and whimsically detailed illustrations that make his work so great. I have several friends whose kids have given the best testimonial of all…his books are at the top of their list of favorites and are requested for bedtime story reading over and over.

  3. Just to echo the comment on ‘James in the House of Aunt Prudence’, which I totally love, and to say that my children, a.k.a. the world’s most unforgiving critics, really loved the Robot Babysitter, and used to open up my back and fiddle with my control panel when I went wrong.

  4. Benjamin McFadden and the Robot Babysitter has been a family favorite for years. My daughter, now almost 10, (and reading full scale novels) still loves reading it together and doing the voices, and even wanted to name our new kitten Fantastic.
    Thanks to Tim Bush for a truly classic kids story.

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