Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rene Cloke (1905 - 1995)

Rene Cloke first came to my attention when I was researching the artists affiliated with Great Britain’s Medici Society, an art publishing company started in London in 1908. Although widely known for her depictions of fairies, sprites, pixies, and elves, she also painted many illustrations of dressed or anthropomorphic animals for greeting cards, postcards, annuals, and books, some of which she herself authored.

Rene Cloke was born Irene Mabel Neighbour Cloke in Plymouth, Devon on October 8, 1904 (or, variously, October 4, 1905), although she spent most of her life in London. The daughter of a bank manager, she was a shy child who passed many hours sketching. Her first employment after graduating was illustrating an educational series, The Radiant Way, for the Edinburgh publishers, W & R Chambers, a firm that played a leading role in pioneering inexpensive but quality literature for middle and working class readers during the 19th and 20th centuries. While illustrating cards for the above-mentioned Medici Society, she was also associated with another Scottish printing company, James Valentine & Sons (variously, The Valentine Company), whose primary focus was lithographic postcards. In addition to greeting cards and postcards, Cloke was an extremely prolific book illustrator. She illustrated many books by Enid Blyton - one of the most successful British children's storytellers of the twentieth century -  including Naughty Amelia Jane, The Three Golliwogs, the Mr. Meddle and Mr. Pink-Whistle series, and the Everyday Book series. Among the better known tales she illustrated were Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Grimms' Fairy Tales, Hans Andersen Fairy Tales, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Brer Rabbit Stories by Joel Chandler Harris, several Bible stories, and many more. She herself authored and illustrated numerous books including Woodland Stories, Before We Go to Bed, Rene Cloke's Bedtime Book of Fairytales and Rhymes, ABC and Counting Book, My First Picture Book series, and retellings of well-known tales such as Cinderella , Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss in Boots, and others. In addition, she continued to produce illustrations for the many annual publications, including Uncle Oojah's Big Annual, Blackie's Children's Annual, Tiny Tots Annual, Jack and Jill Annual, Playhour Annual, and Harold Hare Book.
During World War II, Cloke worked for the BritishWar Office as a tracer, producing maps from photographs for use by the Royal Air Force. After the war, she resumed her career in writing children's books and card and book illustration. In the late 50’s, she moved to London, residing at 31 Bernard Gardens, Wimbledon SW19. She continued to work until just four months before her death on October 1, 1995, at age 91.

If you would like to see my own cute animal illustrations and various products - mousepads, mugs, postage stamps, stickers, buttons, and more - featuring them, please click here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop is Now Open!

If you like cute animal illustrations, sometimes known as "dressed animals", "anthropomorphic animals", or "animal character" illustrations, please hop on over to my new online store, Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop. You'll find a variety of products - mousepads, postage stamps, baby t-shirts, cards and stationery, stickers, buttons, and more - featuring my own storybook-style illustrations of charming and whimsical mice, birds, frogs, bugs, bunny rabbits, shrews, toads, swans, flowers with faces, and more. I've just started adding products, so please be patient while the store grows. Please enjoy, and thanks for looking!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Whimbletails™ Announces New Manufacturing Partnership!

We're pleased to announce that starting immediately, we will be partnering with Zazzle, the leader in on-demand retail manufacturing. Whimbletails™ joins individuals, professional artists and designers, and other top brands like Hallmark, Mattel, the Walt Disney Company, Star Wars, and the Library of Congress in taking advantage of the company's extensive on-demand manufacturing technology. An all-new, larger variety of Whimbletails™ products will be available for purchase in the Zazzle marketplace starting late fall, while some of the current store items will be discontinued. For a preview, please go to Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop. See you there!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Whimbletails™ is moving!

I'm pleased to announce that the Whimbletails™ Studio and Workshop will be moving to a much-needed larger space. Although I'll miss my charming and historic old dairy barn, the new space will be bigger, brighter, and warmer (and hopefully, no mice except the ones that appear on my drawing board!) The Whimbletails™ Store will be closed until late spring to avoid confusion during the move. See you then!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Butterfly Taxi" - featuring cute Miss Mouse and anthropomorphic flowers too!

Here's my latest painting, "Butterfly Taxi." I had a lot of fun with it because not only does it feature the well-traveled and VERY cute Miss Mouse, it also has another (rather obscure) subcategory of anthropomorphic art, flower faces. Flower faces are a real challenge - their  faces must be "real" enough to be expressive and believeable, but at the same time the artwork must still be true to the flower being depicted. These three little ladies - Molly, Holly, and Dolly - are the Hollyhock sisters. They are, botanically speaking, double hollyhocks. In reality, they would have more ruffles, but then it would have been more difficult to integrate the faces. If you go to the Gallery at my Whimbletails™ website,  you'll see I've also done a flower face rose and sunflower. 
To visit my online store offering a large variety of great products, gifts, and collectibles featuring all my whimsical animal illustrations, please go to Adele's Cute Animal Art Shop.