illustration

Favorite Children’s Books of 2019 – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

Great children’s books are really miniature cartographies of meaning, emissaries of the deepest existential wisdom that cut across all lines of division, scuttle past the many walls adulthood has sold us on erecting, and slip in through the backdoor of our consciousness to speak — in the language of children, which is the language of unselfconscious sincerity — the most timeless truths to the truest parts of us. Here are the loveliest such truthful, timeless treasures I savored this year.…

Read More

What Color Is Night? Grant Snider’s Illustrated Invitation to Discover the Subtle Beauty of Darkness – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

A spare serenade to the spectrum of wonder between black and white. By Maria Popova “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty,” the Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki wrote in his gorgeous 1933 love letter to darkness. More than a century before him, Goethe observed in his theory of color and emotion that “color itself is a degree of darkness.” Darkness, we could say, is the sum total of all the colors and all the emotions — a…

Read More

French Artist Paul Sougy’s Stunning Mid-Century Scientific Illustrations of Plants, Animals, and the Human Body – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

On a recent visit with a friend and her newborn daughter, I was completely taken with an enormous scientific diagram of a snail hanging by the crib, aglow with the thrill of science and the unmistakable vibrancy of mid-century graphic design. I asked about it — she said it was a vintage French classroom poster she had acquired at the Oakland Flea Market. Determined to find out more about its creator, I had only the tiny inscription in the bottom…

Read More

A Poetic Illustrated Meditation on the Meaning of Happiness and Its Quiet Everyday Sources – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“What is your idea of perfect happiness?” asks the famous Proust Questionnaire. Posed to David Bowie, he answered simply: “Reading.” Jane Goodall answered: “Sitting by myself in the forest in Gombe National Park watching one of the chimpanzee mothers with her family.” Proust himself answered: “To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater.” The touching specificity of these answers…

Read More

The Male Pregnancy of the Seahorse and the Fearless Trans Fish of the Coral Seas – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals,” the great nature writer Henry Beston insisted nearly a century ago. “In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.” Over the long sweep of evolution, our fellow creatures have developed wondrous forms and faculties far superior to our own — from…

Read More

Rare, Arresting Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories by the Irish Stained Glass and Book Artist Harry Clarke – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations… I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages,” the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska wrote in her poignant poem “Possibilities.” Old fine-lined illustrations and classic tales that outgrim the newspapers’ front pages, twisting the grisly into the sublime, come together in a rare 1933 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination (public library), with illustrations by the Irish stained-glass and book artist Harry Clarke (March 17, 1889–January 6, 1931),…

Read More

What Miss Mitchell Saw: An Illustrated Celebration of How 19th-Century Astronomer Maria Mitchell Blazed the Way for Women in Science – Self Improvement Article

“Mingle the starlight with your lives and you won’t be fretted by trifles,” Maria Mitchell (August 1, 1818–June 28, 1889) often told her Vassar students — the world’s first university class of professionally trained women astronomers — having herself become America’s first professional woman astronomer, thanks to her historic discovery of a new telescopic comet on October 1, 1847, after sixteen tenacious years of sweeping the sky night after night. Mitchell (whose extraordinary life was the seed for what became…

Read More

An Illustrated Ode to Attentiveness and the Art of Listening as a Wellspring of Self-Understanding, Empathy for Others, and Reverence for the Loveliness of Life – Personal Development Article

“To see takes time, like to have a friend takes time,” Georgia O’Keeffe wrote as she contemplated the art of seeing. To listen takes time, too — to learn to hear and befriend the world within and the world without, to attend to the quiet voice of life and heart alike. “If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing,” Pablo Neruda wrote in his gorgeous ode to quietude, “perhaps a huge…

Read More

An Illustrated Dictionary of Poetic Spells Reclaiming the Language of Nature – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“Words belong to each other,” Virginia Woolf’s melodious voice unspools in the only surviving recording of her speech — a 1937 love letter to language. “In each word, all words,” the French philosopher Maurice Blanchot writes a generation later as he considers the dual power of language to conceal and to reveal. But because language is our primary sieve of perception, our mightiest means of describing what we apprehend and thus comprehending it, words also belong to that which they…

Read More

A Peek-Through Picture-Book About the Most Beloved Fixture of the Night Sky – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

Night after night at my telescope, I marvel with undiminished awe at what Margaret Fuller reverenced as “that best fact, the Moon.” How is it that our abiding nocturnal companion, which has stood sentinel and silent witness to the rise and fall of civilizations, to innumerable heartbreaks and triumphs, never loses its luminous mesmerism? It has inspired sonnets and love songs and religious reveries — an enchanted loom onto which humanity has woven entire mythologies and cosmogonies. Nothing else quite…

Read More

The Remarkable Illustrated Story of Wangari Maathai, the First African Woman to Win the Nobel Peace Prize – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Walt Whitman saw in trees the wisest of teachers and Hermann Hesse found in them a joyous antidote to the sorrow of our own ephemerality. “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way,” William Blake wrote in his most beautiful letter. “As a man is, so he sees.” Many tree-rings after Blake and Whitman and Hesse, another visionary turned to trees as an instrument…

Read More

An Emotional Intelligence Primer in the Form of an Uncommonly Tender Illustrated Poem About Our Capacity for Love – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“How is your heart?” I recently asked a friend going through a trying period of overwork and romantic tumult, circling the event horizon of burnout while trying to bring a colossal labor of love to life. His answer, beautiful and heartbreaking, came swiftly, unreservedly, the way words leave children’s lips simple, sincere, and poetic, before adulthood has learned to complicate them out of the poetry and the sincerity with considerations of reason and self-consciousness: “My heart is too busy to…

Read More

Revealed! Some of My Favorite Illustrations from the Book “Outer Order, Inner Calm.” – Self Improvement Article

With each book I write, I think, “I’ll never have as much fun writing a book again.” And then I love the next book project even more. Many aspects of writing Outer Order, Inner Calm made it particularly enjoyable. In it, I use a very accessible, concise approach. This book is meant to be read quickly, to get you fired up to clear clutter. I was inspired by a book whose structure I’ve always admired: Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. I’d always…

Read More

Jane Goodall’s Lovely Letter to Children About How Reading Shaped Her Life – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“Books feed and cure and chortle and collide,” Gwendolyn Brooks wrote in her 1969 ode to why we read. For Kafka, a book was “the axe for the frozen sea inside us”; for Galileo, nothing less than a source of superhuman powers. “Without the writing of books, there is no history, there is no concept of humanity,” Hermann Hesse wrote in his visionary 1930 meditation on “the magic of the book” and why we will always remain under its generous…

Read More

Stunning 19th-Century French Natural History Illustrations of Beetles – Brain Pickings

The exoskeletal strangeness and splendor of creatures almost entirely unlike us yet thoroughly of this shared world. By Maria Popova “I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars,” the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska wrote in her stunning poem “Possibilities.” And why shouldn’t we? We are, after all, creatures pinned to scales of space and time far closer to those of the insects than to those of the stars. I was reminded of Szymborska’s strange and beautiful…

Read More