Joseph Pearson An Illustrated and rediscovered life.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.