Today I’d like to share with you the work of another of my favorite artists, the children’s book illustrator Gerda Muller. Born in the Netherlands in 1926, Gerda Muller has enjoyed a long and successful career, having illustrated more than 120 books for children in her lifetime, many of which have been translated into multiple languages. Floris Books, which has published several of Gerda’s books in English, kindly gave me permission to share some of her illustrations here on my blog. With so many wonderful books to choose from it was difficult for me to narrow down which images I wanted to share, and what aspect of her work on which I wanted to focus. In the end I decided to feature her series of picture books about the seasons because we use them all year long as part of our nature table display.
Illustration from Spring by Gerda Muller
I first encountered Gerda Muller’s work whilst enrolled in an Early Childhood teacher training course that was designed with the work of Rudolph Steiner at its core. I was particularly drawn to Gerda’s seasonal treasury of wordless, beautifully illustrated board books, entitled Spring, Summer, Autumn, & Winter. I knew we needed them in our home library, and so I bought all four at once. What I love most about these books, and Gerda’s work in general, is that each time I read them I notice something new, even after years of looking at them with my children. The images I’ve chosen to share here mostly feature outdoor scenes, but there are lovely images of home life in each book, too.
Illustration from Summer by Gerda Muller
Illustration from Autumn by Gerda Muller
I’m particularly enamored with Gerda’s images of children at play in the natural world, which is why we use these books as part of the subtle seasonal meditation that the whole family participates in through our nature table, and various bits of handmade decor that the children and I create as the year turns. I also love the glimpse that one gets into another way of life from Gerda’s books; her illustrations feel both foreign and familiar at once and give one a sense of nostalgia that lingers. The lives of her subjects seem slower, more deliberate, and more joyful than do those of some of us in the modern world, as they happily progress through the seasons caressing baby animals, splashing in the sea, gatherin acorns, and catching snowflakes on their tongues. The simplicity of these illustrated lives inspires me to seek the same for myself and my family. We also own, and I cannot recommend enough, Gerda’s book How Does My Garden Grow?, which makes a beautiful companion to summer gardening adventures with children.
In Gerda’s own words:
I love my profession and have spent my whole life drawing for children. When I work alone in my studio, I feel the presence of a child who looks over my shoulder and often guides me. It is for this child that I work, not for parents or publishers.
Illustration from Winter by Gerda Muller
I hope Gerda will not mind that I, a parent, enjoy her books just as much as any child, and that I find myself looking at them even when my own children are not around! Her work does transport the viewer to the world of childhood but, if you look carefully, you will see adults busy working and playing in her illustrations, too. You can read more about Gerda Muller’s life and work on her author page, as well as purchase all of the books I mentioned and several others at Floris Books.