Illustrations by Kinuko

Magic Illustrations by Kinuko Craft or how come a Japanese woman is the best illustrator of Russian fairy-tales

Perhaps, you think that all what contemporary Japanese artists can paint is wide-open eyes of anime characters. Far from it! The Japanese-born American artist Kinuko Craft will easily dispose this argument.

A critic:

– Oh, what’s this? What an excellent piece, what a vision, what expression!

An artist:

– Do you really think so? It’s just a place where I de-paint my pencils.

It’s enough just to look at wonderful illustrations she creates for children’s fairy-tales, fantasy novels, science fiction, Shakespeare’s works and even… Russian folk tales. Yes, indeed, it happens sometimes that a Japanese woman (whose nationality is rather far from Russian) paints Russian fairy-tales, and does it so skillfully that you forget about its author. Moreover, Kinuko is famous for her careful attention to details and their historical authority. Thus, Vasilisa the Beautiful or Baba-Yaga in her pictures are just like in our childhood and good old Soviet animations.

Kinuko, not yet Craft then, was born in Kanazawa, in Japan, far back in 1940. Her grandfather’s books (her grandfather was a penman) became her first textbooks on art. This natural education inspired her so much that she entered the art college. Later, in the beginning of 1960-s, the University of Chicago became her next creative refuge; there she had been learning the tricks of design and the art of illustrating. She never returned to Japan. The USA has become her home-country and the motherland for her newborn daughter since then.

After that she worked in famous ateliers, published her works in quality newspapers and magazines – she just had everything that the Americans would call “so cool” (or “great”, as we would say). Some years later Mrs. Craft started freewheeling, so since then she decides what and how to paint herself. For example, in the mid 90-s she concentrated on children’s books and even illustrated two fairy-tales by her daughter Mary: “Amor and Psyche” and “Tsar Midas and Golden touch”.

She was awarded more than a hundred professional awards (gee!) including 5 gold medals from New York Illustrators Society. Yet, the artist has never heard anything of being proud or absolutely satisfied with the result of her work, however there are delighted admirers of her creativity all over the world. Her beloved husband and not less beloved daughter in Edinburgh as well as her German shepherd in her Connecticut house — all of them support her mastery.

Her thoughts are not less ingenious:

“One of my early memories is a sunbeam reflected on a leave which stuck into web covering the frame of a window and was waving back and forth in the slight wind. I remember the feeling of eternity and it was the most beautiful thing I had seen before. To some extent, throughout my life I’m trying to picture this moment in my creations”.

“Though the books of fairy-tales illustrated by me are called “children’s books”, first and foremost, I create these images for myself, both of my inward natures: a mature woman and a child. To my mind, we always remain young in heart and never grow old psychologically since we are born to the moment when we passed away”. “When I’m asked which of my paintings I consider to be the best, I say that the next painting I create will be”.

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