Lines and Colors art blog

Dorothy Lathrop

Dorothy LathropAt the same time it’s showcasing one of the most famous artists in America (see my previous post on Andrew Wyeth, below), the Brandywine River Museum in Pennsylvania is focusing attention on an artist who has gone largely ignored for the last 40 years.

Children’s book illustrator Dorothy Lathrop was well recognized during the prime years of her career, which extended from the end of the “Golden Age” of American illustration, in the beginning of the 1900’s, well into the middle of the century.

Lathrop was the first winner of the Caldecott Medal, given each year since 1938 for the artist of the “most distinguished American picture book for children”. She also won the Newberry Medal and a Library of Congress prize.

Her style varied significantly over the years, showing influences from divers sources like Art Nouveau and illustrators Jessie Wilcox Smith, Maxfield Parrish, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham and Kay Nielsen.

Her choice of materials varied widely as well, from soft pencil drawings of children and animals, to brilliant watercolors of fairy princesses, oil for larger works and pen and ink for much of her black and white work. Many of her pen and ink illustrations used large areas of black with objects or lines in white, often looking like scratchboard, although it wasn’t as far as I can tell.

In the mid-30’s printing processes changed in a way that allowed her to switch her primary medium from pen and ink to lithographic pencil, which became a signature of her mature style. When used on a textured surface like coquille board, litho pencil (or litho crayon) can produce a pattern of small black marks almost like pen and ink stipple (see my post on Virgil Finlay). Most importantly, the pattern of black and white marks can be reproduced in print without the use of halftone screens. The lithographic pencil also allowed her to achieve delicate effects and a broad range of tone, as well as eye-pleasing textures.

Here is the press release about the exhibit from the museum (not illustrated), and some illustrated articles on Lathrop: A nice illustrated Lathrop bio from Bud Plant Illustrated Books and an illustrated Lathrop bio from’s excellent gallery of Women Children’s Book Illustrators



2 responses to “Dorothy Lathrop”

  1. Good day,
    my name is Adetunwase Adenle, i am an art student and also an artist from nigeria, i am working on a woekshop here in my school to teach pupils more about drawing, i mean the basic methods and modes of drawing, must of the youths and kids here in nigeria dont know how to draw, this i found out after my frist seminar i organised , Title: The Impact of Art Education in The Nation Building, now i am trying to teach 450 children from secondary school how to draw, because what they get to learn now, can never leave them again, this work have so many things attached to it, i can not not organise it all alone, that why i am calling on your reputable organisation, to work along with me, i have done my home work on the location (venue) , the cost of the workshop, what will be needed and the rest of the other logistics needed, so i will like your organisation to work along me, so as to achieve a very good outcome in this non profit making progamme that will affect the lives of children all around nigeria, i will like to hear from you on this issue i have just introduced to you.


    VENUE: Federal College of Education (Technical) [FCE(T)], AKOKA, LAGOS


    This workshop is aimed at enhancing the drawing ability of 450 young students here in Nigeria and also to teach them on how to go about using their pencils to make money. This makes them a job giver and not a job seeker.

    Also, the workshop shares more light into the definitions of drawings, types of drawings, and some other drawing terms. Also how to make good use and take good care of there pencils, how to achieve good drawings, when and how to draw, and drawing trainings. And, with the use of materials provided, the student will be able to make practical text and to know their ability and weakness.


    This workshop is first of its kind, and it organized by an educative body, here in Nigeria. We are teachers, so we can impact knowledge easily.

    A certificate of attendance will be given to every student.
    Drawing materials and a daily guide on how to draw and maintain good drawing skills in every child.
    Interaction with well known, contemporary artists.
    Visiting and exhibition grounds that only shows pencil works.


    450 easel (tripod portable/travel easel)
    450 note pads ( to take down notes in the workshop)
    450 sketch pads ( to take learner drawing in the workshop)
    12 pencils and a pen for 450 learners
    one projector to use for a Power Point presentation
    450 stools
    books on drawing, and some other little things

    Prince A. Adetunwase Adenle Wildlife Art and Portrait Studios
    Block 513, Flat 4, Jakande Estate
    Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos, Nigeria 23401
    Phone: 234-8037646865
    U.S. Contact: James W. Cope, Agent/Representative, Phone: 318-424-0058
    Email Addresses:,

    This can be emailed to any and all sponsors as part of the email letter itself or as an attachment.

    I had visitors here and could not get back on the computer until after they left.

    Please contact me soon.

    Best Regards,

    Jim and Nila/ Adtunwase

  2. Thank you for your information about the drawing workshop. While it sounds like a very worthwhile endeavor, and I would like to encourage support for it, it is difficult for me to help you to promote it.

    I think you will find that most people in the U.S. will be reluctant to support such efforts unless there is some kind of U.S. or international organization that can verify the statements and intentions of the organization. It’s a harsh reality that we live in an age of Internet based charity scams and is it difficult to establish trust on the basis of an email or web site without the help of an existing trusted organization.

    You might do well to contact major art schools or arts organizations in the U.S or Europe to see you can establish a relationship through which your request for materials or financial help can be made to the broader public.