View Full Version : Once Upon A Time - Wanda Gag - August

07-31-2009, 09:18 PM
Greetings art lovers - This month's
Children's Illustrators is Wanda Gag. She started drawing very young.

Here is a excerpt from a biography on the following link

Born on March 11, 1893 in New Ulm, Minnesota, Wanda Hazel Gág (pronounced like gog) was the oldest of seven children. Her father Anton Gág, son of a Bohemian woodcarver, was a painter and photographer. He used his painting talent to decorate houses and churches to support his family. In fact, he decorated their own dining room ceiling with cherubs and the walls with a geometric motif. He passed along his artistic talent to all his children.


I hope you can spend some time with us as we study Wanda and her art.

07-31-2009, 09:20 PM
Here are a few images

07-31-2009, 09:25 PM
a couple more - please feel free to use any medium you like and share your adventure with us.

07-31-2009, 09:27 PM
aaaack, they won't upload.....maybe later....just keep looking.....

later - Robin

07-31-2009, 10:04 PM
:clap: Probably my favorite illustrator and lithographer. They were selling two of her lithos on Ebay one time when I had absolutely no money, and to make it worse, there were no bids. I would love to have owned one of her prints.

I use her cats to pose my cats. This should be a great month. :heart:

08-01-2009, 06:20 AM
This artist is new to me. Looking forward to exploring.

08-01-2009, 08:05 PM
Hi Janet and June - June, Wanda is somewhat new to me too. My daughter sent me a link to her stuff last year.

Oh, Janet - too bad you missed the opportunity to get one of her litho's Cest la Vie

08-03-2009, 11:08 AM
Here are two of my favorite lithos by WG. Actually they remind me of your Home Sweet Home drawings Robin.



08-03-2009, 12:58 PM
I haven't seen these two, Janet. Thanks for posting them. Yes, They are similar to my HSH drawings.

08-09-2009, 10:16 PM
Didn't get any drawing in this line done but did start reading her book Growing Pains - diary excerpts from her 17 thru 26th years of age. She was a determined and talented girl. There was a considerable pressure for her and her siblings to quit school and work as clerks or something. Like drawing was dreaming but she was bolstered by her father's last wish that Wanda go on to school and art training that he was never able to do. She drew and sold postcards and stories and illustratons for magazines when she wasn't tending the other 6 children the youngest was just starting to talk. Amazing story

08-10-2009, 08:39 AM
I have a book just called "Wanda Gag" I found it in a museum book store, a place to stay away from....too many great art books for mean prices, and it covers the same material as your book, I think. Isn't it interesting to read letters and diarys of artists?

I did do a drawing. Will try to post it today. I love doing these lesser known artists. :heart:

08-10-2009, 09:27 AM
My Wanda...


and the original...


08-10-2009, 03:45 PM
Janet, thank you for starting this thread. I was very impressed by her drawings of Million of Cats. You have a very good piece there especially you changed the cloak to an apple. Cute!

I noticed that while some were lithographs, some were done with ink and brush. For a moment, I thought it was pencil. Here's one I did with Chinese brush and Chinese ink. The slight red is photoshopped with color variation.


08-10-2009, 06:05 PM
Here's a copy of the Million of Cats piece but I put in my two lovers.

Ball pen


08-10-2009, 07:31 PM
I didn't start this thread. Robin did, though I share her enthusiasm for WG. Shucks, Sandra, that's a pumpkin, not an apple. Back to the drawing board for me :lol:

You certainly have the Wanda touch. I especially like the hill with no cats....but lovers are always good, and the wavey house.

I believe Wanda Gag tried oil painting for a while, but it never took and she went back to printmaking and drawing.

I'd like to try another Wanda before the month is over. :heart:

08-10-2009, 08:02 PM
oops, sorry, Robin. It's indeed you who started the thread. Apologies.

Ah, Janet, I thought it was a supersized apple. LOL. But it's very original nevertheless. I'd probably try one more too.

08-11-2009, 04:10 PM
Oh my Janet and Sandra - these are great!!!!!!

Janet you really got the body language great.

Sandra - great job with the brush! It is so subtle how the picture gets darker as it moves down. You did a great job on the spacing. I love all the texture in the lover piece.

08-12-2009, 01:08 PM
I love your drawings, Sandra and Janet. Love the flowing lines.

I haven't researched this artist yet. I really like the cats lounging about in the room.

08-13-2009, 08:21 PM
painted trailer walls allll day yesterday, but got this little drawing done before bed... It is from Millions of Cats

08-13-2009, 10:25 PM
Robin, cute scrawny little cats just like the book. This is good.

I did a quick resist piece from ABC Bunny having found a Japanese oil marker in my box that hadn't dried out yet. Watercolor black on it and a bit washed under the tap.


08-13-2009, 10:42 PM
Hi Sandra/Gakime-

You just posted before I did with your 3rd entry-so full of movement like your others!
Especially like that evocative growing dark house and garden you did with the Chinese brushes...that wee crooked window is pure Wanda Gag!


I bet adding a pumkin instead to the side could very well have been one of her original takes before the final rendition; fits so well with your lively, lighter-stroked rendition...fun piece!


Very nice examples of her work in your intro!
And you chose the wee cat one from Millions !
Nice capture!

Millions of Cats was one my Gran liked to read to us over and over......and one my own 2 kids always asked for again too!

Since I signed up for a P&Ink Christmas card exchange here, I"d better get crackin' at doin" such kind of mark-making again.......and Wag is the perfect illustrator to emulate for it!:clap:

Glad I dropped in!:D

Hoping to see you again come month's end...

Cheers to All.


08-13-2009, 11:33 PM
Looks like Wanda Gag is an illustrator with a wonderful sense of humor.

I love that cat illustration Robin. The little cat dunking its head in the milk!!

Nice resist rabbit , Sandra.

Hi Chris.

08-14-2009, 11:52 AM
Robin, I love your kitty slurping up the milk. I still have a copy of "Millions of Cats" and a book on Gag's lithos and prints. She was obviously a big cat person. I wondered if any one would have the time to draw all million cats....I guess not. :lol:

Sandra a nice rabbit and an interesting style. I'm very interested in the Japanese oil marker, please tell me more. The only kid's books of Gags I'm familiar with is the million cat one. Think I'll drop into the children's room at the library and have a look. Hope they have them.

Nice to hear from you Chris...we do love our children's books. Don't we? :heart:

08-14-2009, 06:27 PM
Hi June and Janet, and thanks the comments

Sandra - nice job on the bunny. The head is captured in a few strategic strokes and the leafy nest, hey I think I can hear that guy chewing on a carrot!

Wild Goose - yes Wanda is an inspiration for all us "mark" makers, I too hope to do a bigger one before August is up. Meanwhile I'm looking forward to what you post:)

08-14-2009, 09:38 PM
Thank you, Chris, June, Robin, Janet for your comments. Chris, I'd love to see you do some too.

Janet, the one I used yesterday is called Platinum Paint Marker, medium nib and it's oil based paint marker from Daiso, a Japanese $1.50 store.

Its white is more opaque than the Pentel Permanent Marker which I bought today for 3 times the price with a fine nib. Pentel is also made in Japan like the other. Uni also made one but I didn't buy that one.

Here's the result of Pentel's (http://www.amazon.com/PENTEL-AMERICA-Permanent-Marker-Point/dp/B001HA6IIA/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&s=office-products&qid=1250291409&sr=8-14). Its very hard to do it on white paper. You can't see what you are drawing. :lol: But it came with three fine nips that make this possible, unlike the one from yesterday. Your local art store should have it. As long as it says oil based, it will resist. Don't buy the acrylic ones.

In fact, Derwent Drawing Pencil is oil based and yesterday I tried it, it resisted too. I tried put a layer of gray graphitint at the bottom without wash, then used this Pentel but the moment the liquid hit the surface, it washed the graphitint. And when I washed it, it's gray on gray. :p


Here is an augmented photoshop copy.


08-15-2009, 03:17 PM
Thanks for all the info, Sandra. I'll have to look through my stuff. I might have an oil marker and not even know it. :angel:

08-16-2009, 08:25 AM
Trafford, wonderful drawing – I love the apple falling from the tree. :thumbsup:

Robin, love those cute little kitties. :thumbsup:

Sandra, I love the resist bunny, it’s so different and appealing. Also great work on the house with the Chinese brush and ink. :clap:

08-16-2009, 08:33 AM
I am hesitant to post as I think I have made a big boo-boo :o

I did not know of Wanda Gag but I really like the illustrations. I googled and found some images and one (the front cover of a book about Wanda Gag) really appealed but I am not entirely sure the one I chose to copy was by WG or by the author of the book.

I will post it anyway as I really enjoyed doing it and my apologies if it is not a true Wanda Gag.


08-16-2009, 05:16 PM
Inky, thank you for sharing your lovely picture. It doesn't matter if it's not a true Wanda (I believe it's from "Wanda Gag....The Girl Who Had to Draw") It's surely her portrait as a young girl, drawing under a tree with her cat close by.
Very nice work :heart:

08-16-2009, 11:15 PM
I have no doubt that's her- there's a cat, too! You've created a nicely gestural cat, and have just beautiful blues on that dress!:)


Found a good site-above link - from Gag's home state of Minnesota...Their TWEED MUSEUM OF ART just had an exhibit in the Spring; and maintains a collection .
Of interest is the self-portrait she did in the early 1920's

It was called Draw to live and Live to Draw[/I a phrase found in her diary written when she was 17 - and ran from Nov/08 to May 09.

In the accompanying article, there is a very succint description, in her own words[/I], of how she did a [I]Zinc Lithographic plate of a work in the exhibit.

Interesting read for me, as I"ve signed up for an etching/engraving Art Extension course this Fall!

Here's a picture of her wonderful childhood home , preserved by the local historical societyhttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Aug-2009/120243-492px-GagHouse_by_jonathunder.JPG
courtesy jonathunder-who uploaded it to Wiki Commons

Can imagine a great Gag picture of this !:D

I love this one ::heart:

[I]Snoopie in the Garden / stone litho 1932

08-17-2009, 06:33 AM
:clap: Wonderful article, WildGoose. She was an interesting woman and a great lithographer. Love her house, could move right in. Is that her museum, as well? I know there is one. :heart:

08-17-2009, 07:30 AM
Sandra - thanks for the particulars on those resist tools. I hope to try some of that soon....maybe

Inky - that is a good painting - I like how the cat is almost invisible. Her face looks childlike and a little grown up at the same time. It's lovely how you did the background all in one color with values.

WildGoose - thanks for the great link. Very in depth biography but not overly long. I think I'll have a go at doing her house using a resist method Sandra is suggesting.

Janet - Hi

08-21-2009, 02:44 PM

Bunny, Wanda Gag, 7 by 10 ins, brush pen.

08-21-2009, 02:56 PM
Love that bunny June, looks so joyful. :clap:

What a beautiful house that is, Wildgoose... such character.

08-21-2009, 10:13 PM
Fine rendition, June...lovely and lively!
Like how the curves in the little rabbits body are echoed so well with the curves in the meadow by him...nice depth with those darks.too!

08-22-2009, 01:30 AM
Very nice details, June.

I used markers and the Sharpie Pen.


08-22-2009, 08:02 AM
Bunny frolicking in the grass. June, nice feel for the fun bunny is having. Sandra, very good use of markers, a magical painting...like all the swirls. What do you think they are doing on the roof..is the animal going to eat it? Guess I'll have to read the book :)

08-22-2009, 11:48 AM
Love your illustration of the house and animals Sandra. So lively and colourful!

I searched our library for W. Gag books but we have none. I managed to order 'millions of cats' thru inter-loan and am awaiting its arrival.

08-22-2009, 04:19 PM
Thank you, Janet, June, for your comments. I don't know the story to this one but yeah, if the cow eats the roof, there wouldn't be any roof left. June, you would love the illustrations in the millions of cats. Though the ending irked me when I first read it to my kids. LOL. Looking forward to see yours too.

08-23-2009, 12:03 PM
June - the bunny frolick is well done, looks like a sure sign of spring

Sandra - I like how you got form using just dots and short lines This and some other pieces of Wanda's things remind me of Samuel Palmer -

08-23-2009, 01:43 PM
Robin, thanks for mentioning Samuel Palmer. OMG, his works are so beautiful. I don't know about this artist and the first moment I saw his paintings on google images, I said, please, make sure he's dead. LOL. I want to copy all his paintings.

I'm so glad he's ancient!!! Would he be in one of the oldies and goodies? Wow, beautiful work.

I'm trying to understand using color and pen work together like how you three often do and am totally ill at ease with it. I'm practicing. I'm going to copy a few of his works.

Actually, let me go back to photo paint along and do a couple more pen and color piece.

08-27-2009, 05:54 AM
not time for comments right now - gotta go wash last night's dishes before breakfast

Here's the Gag house - ink and crayon.

I still hope to get one done in her black and white style

I'll be back soon:)

08-27-2009, 06:27 AM
Robin, I like your house very much...in fact I'd like to be sitting upstairs on the tiny balcony, watching the rain and having a cup of coffee.

Before we even had this thread, when I saw your HSH drawings, they reminded me of WG's lithos. :heart:

08-27-2009, 01:58 PM
Sandra, lovely and colourful. :clap: Must be nice to put the cow out to grass on the roof! neat. :thumbsup:

Robin, that is just beautiful. Like a fairytale house.... I want to live there. Nice colour choices. :thumbsup:

08-28-2009, 11:01 AM
Robin, we do like to experiment with mixed media, don't we. Love that green! It is so fun to see green in a wonky looking house!

Thank you, Inky. Inky, are you going to do a few too?

08-29-2009, 03:36 AM
Hi Sandra

Yes I would love to do more. Apart from my earlier little effort I haven't had much time to do another - sadly my art time these days is very limited so that I have to really cram it all into a small space of time. :)

However, today is one of those rare days when I actually have some painting time...... I will see what I can come up. :cat:

08-29-2009, 04:30 PM
Well here it is, my effort for today. I probably could have worked on it more, but I had great fun painting it.

Ink on HP paper


08-30-2009, 09:03 AM
Inky, I liked this drawing so much I had to take a peek at your blog :thumbsup:

Besides the adorable kitty, I like the touch of color in your wash. Red. sepia?

Really nice work. :heart:

08-30-2009, 12:47 PM
Wow, Inky, very nice work there. The surroundings of the kitty came alive with all those white space. You use ink and watercolor predominantly? So is it watercolor wash background and the ink for smaller items?

I've finally ordered the full spectrum of Dr. Martin Bombay Drawing ink and I couldn't wait to try them.

You use brush for your ink too? Which type of ink do you use. Your waterfall piece in your blog is very pretty!!!

08-30-2009, 11:10 PM
I agree with the others...a lovely drawing Inky!! Such a peaceful cat.

08-31-2009, 05:33 AM
Trafford, Sandra and June, Thank you so much for your kind comments. I am usually quite shy of showing my work except on my blog where it's like a journal. Anyway thank you for taking the time to look at it.

I was a little worried about the cat as my son was convinced at one point that it looked more like an otter, so I had to work at it a little. :lol:

Sandra, yes I feel most at home using ink or watercolour. I mostly use indian ink which is permanent so doesn't run when you go over the dry wash.

I like to build in layers allowing the first layer to dry before adding the next. Sometimes I use coloured ink as here where I added some dilute burnt umber drawing ink for the wash. Detail added with Pilot drawing pen.

The waterfall piece on my blog was just an experimental piece playing with ink and then adding a little watercolour. I had never painted a waterfall and I wondered if I could do it.

Thanks again for all the encouragement.

08-31-2009, 02:18 PM
another quick one, as it's the last day of August (where did the year go? :eek: ).

Copy of Wanda Gag's Philodendrum:


For this I used dilute Burnt Umber ink wash and inked in the lines with a sharp twig dipped in the ink.

Many years ago I had a very large plant like this, which I managed to kill off... no-one quite understands why pot plants do not survive in my house but much as I love them they all seem to commit suicide in my presence. :)

08-31-2009, 03:24 PM
Hahaha...the potted plants commit suicide in your house. I have killed so many house plants my husband told me to stay off. I've over watered them, exposed them to sun when they were supposed to be house plants and they all turned brown and...died...

Very pretty piece. Which brand of ink do you use? I'm totally curious. The colors are very pretty! And the shadowing has so many values it's very real. Very well done piece, Inky.

I had fun this month!

08-31-2009, 03:41 PM
Thanks Sandra. I mostly use Winsor & Newton inks, but sometimes I just pick up a bottle in the art store and I'm not too sure what the brand is... I just like the colours.

some are calligraphy inks too, but sometimes they are not waterproof and will run, that can be quite effective if you want a soft loose effect, but youhave to be careful to keep control. :)

It's nice to know I am not the only one who has trouble keeping the pot plants alive. I recently bought a beautiful bonsai tree feeling sure I could at least keep a Tree alive.... I had it a week before the leaves just curled up and the whole thing died. Don't know what I did wrong as I was so careful with it. Guess I'm just difficult to live with! :lol:

Yes, the project has been great fun, so glad I found it. I've really enjoyed myself.:thumbsup:

08-31-2009, 11:29 PM
Colourful , bright
Interesting to combine markers and sharpie that way
Fun, whimsical
Winning combo of ink and crayon
Lovely, fine rendition...lilke the wash back-ground, and the sleeping cat is so precious...glad you took on the that one; you 've matched the feel wonderfully!
Very alive-looking plant, too!

09-01-2009, 09:29 AM
Hi, Inky! Loving that plant. A good artist and funny too. A great combination. :clap:

09-01-2009, 01:17 PM
Wildgoose and Trafford, thank you so much.