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Joseph Pearson An Illustrated and rediscovered life.

November 27, 2013

Regular readers to my blog will know that I’ve been quite taken by the work of Joseph Pearson, the wonderful illustrator who beautifully adorned ‘Betty Crocker’s New Picture Book’ from the 1950’s.  I have tried to source information about him and his work for some time now, sadly to no avail.

Past fishinkblogs on his work can be seen here, here and here.


to my absolute delight I was recently contacted by Janet a cousin of Joe’s wife Lois. She kindly put me in touch with Mrs Pearson (who’s a youthful 89 year old), and I’ve written to her and have been emailing her daughter (Anada) to discover more about Joe, his life and his work.

Janet remembers Joe as a very energetic, fun loving person. She told me  “He and his wife Lois would visit my family on our farm back in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  While he was with us one summer, he painted a picture of our house (1949) and also one of our barn (1952).  I was only twelve at the time but I still have these framed pictures today. He even painted the cow that was “posing” by the fence.  Such a character he was.”

Janet kindly sent me the images below so we could all see them. I love the way he’s painted the house, there is a lively flow to his painting here and great colours.

Fishinkblog 5817 Joseph Pearson

Janet goes on to say ” I also have an autographed First Edition Betty Crocker Cookbook  that Joe gave to my mother (Amelia).  Although Lois and Joe were a “little older” than me, they were really “hip” and bought me a lot of neat things (such as Elvis records, jewellery, etc.)  We had a lot of fun riding around in their Studebaker which was a state of the art car at that time.  Joe was into interesting cars, such as British makes, like Morgan’s, etc.”

Janet told me that ” Lois also became the hand model in the photographs when measuring or demonstrating the recipes  in the Betty Crocker book and that Joe depicted a lot of his personal family life in his artistry, such as entertaining, dancing, family gatherings, etc.  He was quite a social guy and I always remember his sense of humor and charm.”  How wonderful to have a signed first edition from the artist himself .

Fishinkblog 5826 Joseph Pearson

Joe and Lois’s daughter Anada takes up her father’s story here.

“In answer to your question (Where did Joe originate and how did he start as an artist?) My Father, Joseph W. Pearson had one younger brother, Warren, now deceased and when he and his brother were punished by my grandfather they were made to sit at the dinning room table with pencil and paper not allowed to speak, only draw. My Father grew up in Nebraska, USA. When he was discharged from the army during WWII, he went to school at the Art Center in California, USA. My Father worked in all many mediums, clay, water color, markers, oils, etc.”

My Dad’s first job after The Art Center School in California was at the Lincoln Journal in Nebraska from July 1948 to 1949.  In 1949 my Dad took a job in Chicago, Illinois at Witaker and Guernsay a much larger art department and more work in Chicago. Mum also wanted me to tell you that Dad collected antique British racing automobiles.  He had several three wheel Morgan’s which he restored! And a four wheeler too!  Meanwhile I wanted to stick to Dad’s history as an artist.  Once thing Dad told me when I was a little girl was, “Honey always take time to just sit back at watch the leaves dancing in the trees.”   What a lovely thought.

Here’s a couple of Joe’s illustrations for a 1954 children’s book called ‘Parade of Stories’ This illustrated story was called “Yonie Wondernose” about the life of some Amish children. Thanks to Glen Mullaly for posting this in his flickr set. I love the shapes and shading used here and the image with the lightening is my favourite.

Fishinkblog 5827 Joseph Pearson 1 Fishinkblog 5828 Joseph Pearson 2

Joe passed away in 2008.  Many thanks to everyone for the information, their time and energies to make this happen. If anyone has any more images from Joe that they’d like to include on the blog, then please let me know or send them to Thank you.

UPDATE… Jan 2019

I received another email from Joe’s nephew Ralph who said

” This painting hung in my father’s (George W. Pearson) study in Texas.  A scene from marina in Chicago. Uncle Joe was represented by a talent agency for illustrators. This agency produced a catalog each year. I don’t recall the name. One of Uncle Joe’s contracts was for Schaffer Beer. Illustrations and sculpture. He made sculpture mock ups for Schaffer bar displays. One was of a golfer. My dad was the model. Aunt Lois passed a couple of years ago.  This may not be relevant, but I have been a professional (contract) stained glass artist for over 40 yrs.”

I was also recently asked by a reader whether Joe might have undertaken any work for a home or glassware manufacturer, because she had bought some pieces from the sixties that had very similar drawings or etchings on them. Anyone else have any ideas ?


11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2013 5:28 pm

    Your perseverence paid off! Lovely background to such charactful illustrations. Cheers!

    • November 27, 2013 5:33 pm

      Thanks Isobel, it certainly did. Big thanks to Janet too for making the whole thing possible.

  2. Mona permalink
    March 13, 2016 3:11 pm

    I picked up a copy of the 1961 Betty Crocker Cookbook for 25 cents at a thrift store in Wisconsin a few years ago. I was utterly delighted by the illustrations. I considered them nothing short of genius! Studying them led me to believe the illustrator must have been older as only a mature person could have that much scope in time and history. How I wish I could have told this talent how much I appreciate his work! I treasure the book for many reasons but Joe Pearson brought it alive! It is a nostalgic picture of ways of life that are sadly gone. Thank you, Joe! I pray you rest in peace.

    • March 13, 2016 5:58 pm

      And now you can discover a little more about the man behind the work too : )

  3. Peter permalink
    June 10, 2016 2:29 am

    What Great info!! I also loved his work in the cookbook and actually collect Betty Crocker cookbooks! His art was a huge draw for me as this particular cookbook ( from 1961) was what I grew up with.It has a special place in my heart!! Your story above was amazing!! Thank you so much for getting/finding that information!! and all the coverage you have given him! Awesome!!!

    • June 10, 2016 8:31 am

      Hi Peter, many thanks for your thoughts and sentiments about my posts. Joe’s work needs to be out there for everyone to enjoy. If there are any similar artists work that adorn the Betty Crocker cookbooks that you have in your collection around the same period, and you’d like to share some photos with my readers then please feel free to take some pics and send them over. I’ve only ever seen this edition. Thanks again. Craig

  4. Rosie permalink
    January 8, 2019 4:39 am

    I have a glass that I bought at an antique store that has pink and white drawings on it that are just like Joe persons drawings in the Betty Crocker cookbook 1961…do you know if there is A line of cookware or glassware that features his art?

    • January 8, 2019 8:59 am

      Hi Rosie, thanks for your message. I’ve not heard of one but it’s possible. Could you send me a photo or two, I’d love to see them. Thanks for getting in touch and I hope you find an answer. Cheers Craig

  5. Michelle Hansen daberkow permalink
    October 8, 2019 2:47 am

    Again, please contact me if you are family. I have an oil painting I think it is signed on the reverse in pencil Joseph Pearson 1947. Not sure if it says Pearson or Plarson.

    I am in Lincoln, NE, an art teacher.
    This painting was framed in orange painted frame handmade as for an assignment, maybe in his school years.. in CA. It is a painting of a plant in a flower pot. Looks like a study of plants. It does not look like these later cartoons, so maybe it is a different artist.


    • October 8, 2019 9:53 pm

      Hi Michelle, thanks for getting in touch. Would it be possible for you to send a couple of images of the painting and signature ? Would be great to see and try and solve the mystery 😀. I wouldn’t say I could tell you personally but perhaps if any of his family spot it, then we might make some progress. You can send digital images to thank you.

  6. James Hoover permalink
    May 14, 2023 6:48 am

    Joseph Pearson is my favorite illustrator of all time. I grew up drawing and always wanted to be an illustrator but lets face it, art directors nowadays would rather go the the clip board, use a computer or photography to illustrate a particular venue. I hate to say it but illustration by an individual is approaching extinction. Fortunately, we still have Joe Pearson’s wonderful work!

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