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Dong Kingman Part 2

February 3, 2020

Welcome back to part 2 of my post about the artist Dong Kingman. Check out Part one from last week and we’ll start today with some coastal views (probably from the 1940’s)

Such great perspectives and rolling land and seascapes, coaxing the viewer’s eye to travel to the very edges of the canvas.

1954 was a year of dramatic changes. Hollywood director James Wong Howe‘s film short “Dong Kingman” was released, Dong’s wife Janice died, and U.S. Department of State International Cultural Exchange wanted him to tour the world as a cultural ambassador.

He put himself into this work whole-heartedly and returned to the USA to publish the 40 foot scroll chronicling his visits to the worlds cities in the pages of LIFE magazine in February 1955. In 1956 Dong married journalist Helena Kuo, and the following year he began his lifelong association with Hewitt painting workshops, traveling to exotic locations once or twice a year teaching watercolour workshops.

You can see how much lighter his work has become.

By the time his first book The Water Colors of Dong Kingman, and How the Artist Works was published in 1958, Dong Kingman was a household-name. That year Kingman moved from Midtown to Wildenstein (1958-69) where he broadened his international reputation with successful exhibits in New York, London and Paris.

Dong had met many people in the entertainment industry through the years and some of his friends were now employed in the art departments of film crews. He added his touches to films such as The World of Suzie Wong (1960), Flower Drum Song (1961), 55 Days in Peking (1963), and Sand Pebbles (1966). His friend Emil Kosa, Jr. was also on the art team of Sand Pebbles, providing the matte paintings for “special visual effects”.

A few early sketches.

The 1960s were a whirlwind of painting and traveling worldwide. Dong’s unique multi-cultural persona, pegged early on as merging Eastern and Western styles made him a valuable asset to the USA in world relations. His influence on the popular culture of America through use of images of his paintings in movies, magazine covers, posters, and illustrations furthered the warming of relations between China and America that culminated in President Nixon’s historic 1972 China visit. A decade later in 1981, Kingman was the first American artist to be accorded a one man show in China since diplomatic relations between the two countries resumed. More than 100,000 visitors attended and the retrospective received critical acclaim from the Chinese media.

Through the rest of his career Dong continued traveling and painting the cities of the world. His high-visibility assignments through the years included creating posters for the Olympics and Pan Am, and numerous cover assignments for magazines like Time, Fortune, Life, and Saturday Review. He was invited to be a judge in the Miss Universe contest in 1969 and was proud to serve 20 years, sharing the stage with stars and celebrities of the day.

When Dong Kingman went on tour for the State Department in 1954 he realized cities were his favorite subjects and he spent the rest of his life capturing the lively essence of the world’s great cities. In 1997 “Portraits of Cities” was released chronicling the vitality and beauty of the world’s major hubs of civilization as seen through the eyes of one of America’s own watercolour masters.

If you look at Dong’s work year by year you can see his skills and style sharpen and shift. The muted grays and umbers and realism of his early watercolors gradually gravitated to brighter colours with scenes populated with characters and symbols drawn from Dong’s personal iconology and sense of humor. His late period paintings are brighter still with masterful abstractions in design using the white of the paper to expert advantage.







Dong Kingman passed away from pancreatic cancer in the year 2000 at the age of 89. His paintings hang in over 60 Museums and public institutions world-wide.

During his lifetime he won “virtually every major award for this medium” including the American Watercolor Society‘s prestigious Dolphin Medal and National Academy’s 150th Anniversary Gold Medal of Honor. His family keeps his legacy and good works alive through archival and arts outreach at

Many thanks to Watercolor Painting dot com for their information on Dong which has helped make this post possible. Which of his paintings caught your eye today ?

Dong Kingman Part 1

January 27, 2020

I first discovered the work of Dong Kingman work after spotting this San Francisco poster for American Airlines. Again because there is so much of Dong’s work to explore, I’ve split the post into two sections. A real travel feast for the eyes : )

Dong Kingman (1911-2000) was born in Oakland, CA of Chinese parents was originally named Dong Moy Shu. According to Chinese custom, Kingman was given his new name when he entered school. Hearing that he wanted to be an artist, his teacher gave him the name of King (scenery) and Man (composition). In later years he combined the two words into Kingman and following Chinese custom, he used the family name first and the given name second. He studied at the Ling Nan School in Hong Kong.

Dong returned to Oakland in his late teens in 1929. He attended the Fox Morgan Art School, held a variety of jobs and experimented with oils and watercolors. Soon he decided to concentrate on watercolors. At the time, Charles Burchfield, John Marin and George Grosz were the leading practitioners of the medium. During the Depression era decade that followed, Dong would emerge as one of America’s leading artists and a pioneer of the California Style School of painting.

I love his observational skills and layouts, as much as his use of colour and shade.

Here’s some of the work inpired by his China visits.

A 1936 solo exhibition at the San Francisco Art Association brought him instant success and national recognition. Reviewing the Second Annual Exhibition of Watercolors, Pastels and Tempera on Paper, sponsored by the San Francisco Art Association in 1937, art critic Alfred Frankenstein wrote: “Dong Kingman is bold, free and joyous as always. He paints with soaked light. He is San Francisco’s A No. 1 watercolorist at the present moment.”

Some of his early work here, really captures life on the streets of the forties and fifties.

In 1941 Dong earned the first of two, back to back, Guggenheim Fellowships which allowed him to travel and experiment with the watercolor medium. During World War II he joined the army and was assigned to the Office of Strategic Service at Camp Beal, California and then Washington, D.C. The nature of his duties allowed him to continue his career.

After the war Kingman settled on the East Coast, in Brooklyn Heights, New York, assuming teaching positions at Columbia University and Hunter College in 1946 for the next decade. His first one-man show in New York at Midtown Galleries in 1942 was well received in the media, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the New Yorker and American Artist. M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco held a major exhibit of his watercolors in 1945. In 1951, Midtown presented a 10-year retrospective of his work. Time Magazine wrote, “At age 40, Dong Kingman is one of the world’s best watercolourists.”

A few paintings showing trains, railways and tram structures around the city.

I wonder how many other folk were painting structures like these in those times ?

Other retrospectives, including Corcoran in Washington, D.C. and Witte Memorial Museum in San Antonio, were held for the artist. In the late 50s, Dong moved from Midtown to Wildenstein where he had successful exhibitions for over a decade in New York, London and Paris.

A few of his London paintings here.

Many thanks to Watercolor Painting dot com for their information on Dong which has helped make this post possible. Look out for Part 2 next week.

Brian Wildsmith New Website Release

January 20, 2020

Brian Wildsmith. London, early 1960s.

Hello there, I have some very exciting news for everyone who is a fan of the wonderful illustrations of Brian Wildsmith. Or indeed anyone, who is lucky to be young enough, to not have already encountered his beautiful books and artworks in the past… you have them all to discover.

After reading my posts about Brian back in 2015, his daughter Clare contacted me and we’ve been chatting along with her brother Simon and sister Rebecca, via email, ever since.

The plan for his children was to create a brand new website to showcase their father’s work. They have not only done just that, but are coinciding the release date this week (on Wednesday the 22nd January 2020) with what would have been Brian’s 90th birthday !!

I sent over some questions which Simon kindly answered on behalf of the family. Also the illustrations used in this post, were hand-selected by Simon and are an exclusive to Fishink Blog in so far as they haven’t yet been seen by anyone outside of his family and his publishers prior to the website’s release this week.

What are your earliest memories of having a father who was an artist ?

My earliest memories of my father being artist would go back to the days when I was forced to fill in forms saying what he did as a profession. I guess I would have been six or seven at school in France in Cannes and at the beginning of every year in every different class children had to fill in forms about what their parents did, which, even then I found to be outrageous and most unfair for many of the kids. I believe the tradition has now been outlawed.

Illustration from The Prince of The Jungle by René Guillot 1958, from the 80 or so books he illustrated while working freelance in the 50s and early 60s

Were you and your siblings all encouraged to draw or paint too ? Did his work have an influence on you all growing up ?

I don’t believe we were encouraged any more than other children or at least of our friends to draw and paint. Later on in life when I felt that I had creative instinct, I think that having a father who was such a good draughtsman was problematic for me in drawing badly as, so inevitably any beginner would. How often in life does one hear people saying I cannot draw ? As if it was purely a God-given gift. Brian would have been the first to admit that, talent notwithstanding, it takes an awful lot of practice.

Did he read his books to you all at bedtime or use you as a pointer for which images worked well or were memorable ?

I can’t remember my father reading me his books when I was a child. Perhaps my mother did but I don’t have clear recollection of that either. They certainly did read us bedtime stories but I can’t remember which titles. Brian often remarked in interviews, talking about his children, and his artwork that, when they entered his studio to see his day’s work and were excited or lively, he knew he had made a good job of it. If, on the other hand, we were quiet he also understood the meaning of that.

Q – Queen, original illustration from the Kate Greenaway awarded ABC. His first book.

Do you remember watching your father at work, creating his animals and drawings or was that time considered work and therefore something that was carried out whilst you were at school or in his studio room in private ?

I can’t remember my father ever saying “I’m busy” or “I’ll see you later” or “we’ll talk about this later.” I always felt respectful, even from an early age, of his work time, but if there was ever an issue of any importance he would immediately stop what he was doing and attend to it. The door to his studio was as often open as it was closed and was very much like any other room in our home. He didn’t hold office hours, but he worked a tremendous amount including weekends if publication dates were close. And as work time for him also included many hours sitting on the terrace dreaming, there was also that time for interaction.

Did he used to tell you all stories about what he was drawing at any given time ?

Yes, of course, he told us what the stories were about that he was illustrating. I believe he gave much consideration to our opinions. Perhaps not to the extent though, that he would shred a piece of work if we didn’t like it.

Preliminary drawing for The Lion And The Rat, the La Fontaine fable published in 1963

Did you ever get to see him working, building up the images etc ? did he work from real life or imagination when drawing animals ?

In the biography we are writing about his life for the forthcoming Brian Wildsmith website, there is extensive comment about the sources and his very thorough documentation on the subjects he chose for his books. He could draw pretty much any animal you could care to imagine, most convincingly, from memory, but this only thanks to the fact that he had spent many hours studying his subjects from every angle as a younger artist.

Little Jack Horner from Mother Goose, (also the cover) 1964

Was it true that he felt unsupported by the UK establishment when it came to his work and recognition of his amazing achievement and worldwide sales ?

It is true to say that he felt unsupported by the UK establishment, and this is a fairly complex issue. How much had it to do with reality? How much had it to do with the social environment that he was met with when he first arrived in London from Yorkshire? Was it to do with book sales in the UK that only he saw? Or was it simply in contrast with the quite massive adulation he received in the United States and in Japan? Either way it softened and with age and we failed to fully comprehend it.

A stare of owls from Birds, 1967. Original illustration

I’ve read that he loved all of his books equally (like his children) but was there one book that you feel he may have had a fondness for over all others, and if so why ?

I think like all artists his latest work was his favourite. I couldn’t personally pinpoint one that he referred to as a favourite apart perhaps for the ABC. Not I don’t think because it won the Kate Greenaway medal, but simply because it was his first, full-on and autonomous creation.

An original from The Bible Story 1968

Did he have paintings of his work up in your home and if so what were the subject matter .. aimals again or other things ?

There were quite a few of his illustrations on the walls in our home, as well as some of his paintings. I don’t think he actually picked any out and took them to the framers. So far as the illustrations were concerned, they had probably been framed for other reasons or exhibitions.

Never before shown in public silk-screen print from 1976 (we love these, there are a few more on the site)

I imagine he must have worked incredibly hard to create all the illustratons for the many many books he drew. Do you remember him always busily working, do you get a sense that he loved his work and creating it even up until his passing in 2016 ?

He was quoted on a couple of occasions as saying that he felt quite unwell when he was not working.

Wounded ducks original from Hunter and his dog, 1979

Are there any plans to create a Wildsmith museum here in the UK… maybe Yorkshire ? or indeed a retrospective book with a host of illustrations from his many many books ?

We have many plans for exhibitions in the future. But I’m afraid at this stage they are still secretive. We are ambitious in our wish to expose his most incredible art to as many people as possible. As for retrospective book, that too shall have to remain a secret for now.

Oil painting. Mediterranean landscape and Castellaras, the village where our parents and we, as children lived. This painting hung in our home. It was a gift from Brian to our mother. 172X172cm. Oil and acrylic on sand/glue textured cement. c. 1985. One of approx 100 he painted and that have never been seen in Europe. This one never seen anywhere.

What prompted you to revisit and revamp the new website ?

I believe there are no greater fans of Brian’s work than his children. Despite us all being middle-aged, the internet plays a large part in our lives. It is undoubtably the most wonderful, and, potentially, most democratic platform for communication. What better way to share his work? Despite the images having less of the life they have in reality, it will allow some people, who cannot afford beautiful picture books to experience their beauty. And ultimately we wanted to pay homage to our father for the wonderful gift of culture and education that he and our mother gave us so generously and lovingly. Our love of art is without doubt thanks to them, and speaking quite personally I can say it has made my life a happier one.

Brian sketching in Sienna on the Piazza del Campo, Italy in 1990.

One of the equestrian sketches he drew as seen in previous photograph.

Last weekend I was given a secret password which allowed me access to peruse the Brian Wildsmith site prior to it’s release in two days time and boy can I say you are all in store for a HUGE treat.

What a fabulous reminder of the sumptuously textural and colourful work that he created. There are around 800 art images & 150 photos in the “Brian’s illustrated life story” alone ! His life is covered in chapters such as The Yorkshire Years, Early London Years, ABC and Moving to France, Paintings, Italy, Japan and the Fax Machine !

Alongside his books, there are images of his screen prints, his 3-D sculptural work (which I’d never seen before) and some of his sketchbooks and photographs from his travels around the world. As a point of interest, Brian illustrated 82 books, was translated into 30 languages, published in 45 countries with worldwide sales of over 20 million copies !! The site is beautifully written, enlightening, visually inspirational and with that touch of northern humour that Brian has passed down to his family over the years.

Such a talented artist and I am sure that this is just the start of the Brian Wildsmith site as it will grow and develop as time moves forward.

Hurry over on Wednesday 22nd and have a look for yourselves, leave me a comment here and you can directly pass your thoughts onto his family, who no doubt will be reading this post and your feedback thereafter.

Many thanks again to Clare, Rebecca and Simon for their initial contact and the lovely communication which has made the whole collaboration possible. Also I feel honoured to be mentioned under the “With Special Thanks’ section too. Congratulations for assembling and building such a beautiful site and tribute to Brian’s amazing work, I know your dad would have been so proud of what you have achieved.

Happy Birthday to Brian (also to Simon on Sunday), and great to see his illustrations together in all their glory once again. You can also follow

From Wednesday you can view the website here.

Corey Parker Sparks of light

January 13, 2020

Good day everyone. Today’s artist is Corey Parker (1976–2010) who was an young artist working in Cleveland, Ohio. He grew up in the rural farmlands of Michigan which has directly influenced his landscapes. Studying painting under George Pratt. We begin today with a few of his cityscapes.

I love their whispy, etheral feeling. A bit of a ghostly, early morning mistyness to them too.

Onto his landscapes. Painted with a beautiful understanding of someone who spent a lot of time appreciating the land and light.

I love his warm hues and soft shaddows.

This yellow, hazy sunset is a real favourite.

But it was these monotypes that initially caught my eye. Reminding me of a mix of Bob Wilvers work from the fifties and contemporary artist Jon Klassen.

I can just feel the snow and frost enveloping the ground, with beautiful glimpses of low setting sunshine.

Icy quiet and stillness within a vast landscape.

Quite breath taking !

I came across Corey’s work over at Eye Likey, thank you for the introduction. What do you think viewers ? Did it make you shiver with delight whilst drinking your cuppa today lol

Children’s Picturebooks Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles

January 6, 2020

Hello to one and all and welcome back to Fishink Blog. I trust you’ve all had a relaxing and rewarding festive season, have caught up with good friends and bad relations and eaten far too many mince pies and chocolates so now you feel you’re going to pop !! Don’t worry all will be well as this gentle step into the new year will help to iron out your troubles and hopefully make the transition less painful. : )

I’ve some fresh news for my 2020 postings, this week sees the second edition release of the publication ‘ Children’s Picturebooks ‘ by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles, available from Lawrence King Publishing, and I’ve had a sneaky preview already, to be able to share these images with you.

For those of you, like myself who bought the 2012 version, this one has fresh and enlightening entries from the likes of Jon Klassen, Oliver Jeffers and a whole new chapter on the topic of Non-Fiction Books.

It begins with a brief history of the Picturebook and has chapters looking at the artists who design them, the children who read them and whether certain topics (love, sex and violence etc) are really suitable to introduce to a young reader. Including a whole 25 informative pages covering the publishing industry. With entries about books taking off the page and heading onto the stage and the screen.

Martin Salisbury is no stranger to Fishinkblog and is Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art in Anglia Ruskin University.

Image result for martin salisbury books"

I’ve covered his ” 100 Great Children’s Picture Books ” here. There’s an interesting interview with him over on Abe Books…

Talking Dust Jackets: An Interview with Martin Salisbury

Children’s Picturebooks is fascinating reading and a must for anyone interested in either writing a book for children, a student or those who, like me, maybe a lover of children’s picturebooks, their history and beautiful illustrations. 200 pages. £29.99 Paperback. Available from Lawrence King Publishing. Grab your copy today.

New Brighton New Years day

January 2, 2020

Happy New Year everyone. We spent a lovely few hours on the beach at New Brighton yesterday, in the sunshine no less !

Memories of my childhood days of noisy ‘fun’ arcades and art deco buidlings.

At the end of the seafront you can find Victoria Road which many years ago used to look like this. It was a bustling road full of cinemas, bars, tea-rooms and hotels to cater for New Brighton’s busy tourist trade.

It was a busy thriving area.

When I was young the area used to look more like this. Unfortunately in the late eighties and up until recently the area fell into demise and became a virtual ghost town. Closed down / disused shops and businesses, really quite sad.

So it was a wonderful surprise to see the start of the redevelopment of the Victoria Quarter (read more here) and view the colourful murals that have gone up already.

My dad remembers the one legged diver (Peggy Gadsby) that used to stand on the Wallasey Pier and dive for pennies, presumably for a fee in order to make a living. Another local resident recalls…”He was a daring, one-legged man who made death-defying dives from the height of New Brighton pier into the murky waters of the Mersey. He timed his spectacular plunges with the arrival of the ferry-boat full of trippers, and his wife collected pennies from them by means of a bag on a long stick. She would cry, ‘Come on now. Don’t forget the diver. Every penny makes the water warmer,’ and, ‘If you don’t put a penny in the bag, it’ll rain before you go home tonight.’ After each dive he had to climb back up a narrow, iron companion ladder, no mean feat with one leg! “. Great to see him remembered here.

Banksy-esque and illuminating.

Hope you had a great start to your year, so long 2019, I’m afraid you won’t be missed. Welcome instead to the new ‘roaring twenties’ lol

Fishink Christmas 2019

December 24, 2019

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Hello everyone, and welcome. You’ve found me at the final Fishink post for the year : ( but don’t be glum, because there’s plenty to see : )

I’ve used some of these images before but to be honest when I was assembling ideas for the christmas blog, I couldn’t find much that rivalled what I already had. So I just added more to it to make a soooper bumper post !

I have enjoyed us travelling together throughout the year and thank you for keeping me company with your thoughts and comments. It’s been a particularly gloomy year politically here in the UK and even though I try not to bring politics into my art life it does drip, drip, drip into my conscious and subconscious thoughts. Let’s hope we can find a better direction, sometime soon.

I’d like to also say a big H E L L O  to all the people who have ‘schnook-in the Fishink Blog backdoor’ and are now fully signed up, (albeit silent), members of the online community. Yes, that means YOU and that lady at the back with the big hair and fifties spectacles ! lol.  Welcome one and all, and did you know this blog now has over 1000 email followers who receive my posts every time they are unleashed into the creative ether ! Keep spreading the word to your friends and followers and together we can turn Fishink Blog into a worldwide creative community.

Have a fab, safe and restful holiday and I look forward to catching up with you all again in early 2020.

We start off with a few illustrations with Santa Claus.  Did you know that he used to be depicted in green clothing and viewed more as a pagan figure ? and it’s influences like Coca Cola from the 1920’s and 30’s that helped turn his clothes red as we know them today.

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I’m loving the Beatle Bauble ! Yeah yeah yeah !

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Santa on a moped and in a flying bus, I wonder if J.K Rowling had seen these books before Harry Potter ?

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A lovely vintage Radio Times cover here.

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A few snowy themed book covers too.

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Then thinking about christmas stamps.

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A couple of sixties artists I discovered recently.

Baubles and decorations.

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Swish and stylish reindeers.

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Christmas trees and wrapping papers.

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A few gifts I’m sure you ladies wouldn’t ‘die for’.

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The same for you guys.

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Christmas advertising.

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Some rather dodgy looking christmas treats for your table from Jello, Bakeo and Dexo… Oh No !

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A little snow from the oriental shores.

And to bring us to a final more restful place. Martin and Alice Provensen and their beautiful version of the Twelve Days Of Christmas.

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Happy times to one and all and I’ll look forward to catching up in a few weeks. Thanks for all your regular comments and additions, they are REALLY appreciated and help to make Fishink Blog into more of a community too. Please do let me know your thoughts on the posts, the blog and if you have any ideas for featured artists, or work you’d like to share with us (that you feel would fit the Fishink criteria) then do drop me a line … craig at

If you’re missing Fishink Blog over the holidays do take a look through the back posts, I’m sure you’ll have missed one or two.

Which ones were you favourites of the year ?  Have a lovely restful break, be kind to your family and neighbours, and of course a ‘Merry Fishmas’ to everyone, see you in 2020. So it’s goodbye from me and it’s goodbye from Boo too : )

Christmas Boo