An avid naturalist, Charley Harper enjoyed painting the insects, plants, birds, and animals he loved. He masterfully portrayed a host of species using simple lines and shapes. From the smallest lady beetle to the largest monkey, Harper conveyed not only the form and coloration of his subjects but also their personality. His minimalist approach did not reduce the impact of his art; instead, it offered a bold and unique interpretation of the world around him.
Born in rural West Virginia, Harper (1922–2007) was always drawn to nature; as a boy he would traipse across the local hills, sketchbook in hand, stopping to draw whatever seized his attention. Studies at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Art Students League of New York led him to his unmistakable style, refined during his long and noteworthy art career spent largely in Ohio. Several creatures in this coloring book are from the 1991 poster he created for the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes (Cleveland), in celebration of the area’s wildlife and the Nature Center’s many years of “serendipity in the suburbs.”
Inside are twenty-two pages of Harper’s playful critters, with reproductions of his full-color illustrations on the inside of the front and back covers. We’ve also included a blank page at the end so you, like Harper, can sketch the world around you.
Sample of Selections:
- This box turtle doesn’t need to hide—the rabbit only likes to eat vegetables. The title of this painting is Box Seat.
- Mandrills (the largest of all monkeys!) are extremely social, and grooming each other is just another way they bond. The title of this painting is Backscratching in the Baboondocks.
- The male painted bunting is as brightly colored as you could imagine, with splashes of blue, red, green, and even more colors on his feathers.
- The active and intelligent emerald toucanet has a colorful personality to go with its bright plumage. This tropical bird can be trained to use its three-inch beak to play catch with you!
- Cardinals have strong beaks and can eat tougher seeds than birds with smaller beaks. In addition to insects, some of cardinals’ favorite foods are sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and melon seeds. The title of this painting is Coniferous Cardinal.