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The painting Jungle Fun by Sophie Harding stirs childlike emotions at first sight. If the print seems like it is out of a colorful children’s book, it is because the unique artist creates imagery that is commonly used in illustrations and decorations for that age group. Despite the painting’s superficial simplicity, there is an extraordinary depth to the creation and use of such artistic media. Harding uses Naïve Art as a creative style to portray a community of animals using simplicity form that can be easily perceived by children.
When looking at the painting, it is vividly stimulating to the human senses. As any impressionable work of art, it profoundly absorbs the viewer into its fictional magical world. By emerging oneself into the abstract painting, it becomes easier to imagine the indescribable beauty which the artist has attempted to portray masterfully. It is like you are standing the midst of a tropical oasis on a hot day under the scorching sun. As in any jungle climate, it is overwhelmingly humid, leaving a dense moist smell in the air. Palm trees tower above, taller than the lanky giraffes, creating some shade from the piercing rays of sunshine. They can be seen thickly growing far into the rolling hills on the horizon. Flurry clouds stand out in the perfectly clear blue sky, making them look like soft floating pillows which are carried by the whirling wind.
Surrounded by exotic wildlife of various species and types, one can hear the intricate sounds which give them away. There is a distant shriek of a bird or the flapping of majestic flamingos as they land on the water. Near the refreshing oasis, the baby elephant is making splashing noises while playfully spraying the mother with water. The rich texture of the oasis in the painting is realistic, showing gentle ripples radiating from every slight disturbance in the standing water. No matter where you look, there is a dazzling blend of colors from distinct pigmentation of the wildlife to sophisticated hue patterns emitting from the flowers. It is like a rainbow has been gracefully drawn through the jungle with a light stroke of an artist’s worn brush.
It is important to examine the artistic style used by Harding. Naïve art is a simplistic form of illustration that is common for artists without formal training. It is straightforward, lacking sophistication. That is reflected both in its form and content. As a result, its execution can be described as childlike since it closely mimics a type of art that a child would produce. However, that does not imply a lack of mastery on behalf of the artist, but rather their intention. Some great artists such as Henri Rousseau and André Bauchant utilized this controversial style, referred to as “modern primitivism” (“Naïve Art”). Despite adhering to this artistic style, Jungle Fun is somewhat complex. There are a variety of layers that can be seen as animals are positioned behind plants or in various positions to each other. There is an extraordinary amount of detail in the scenery. As a painting, it is visually stimulating and creates a sense of depth.
Sophie Harding is known for her illustrations directed at a very young audience, particularly in children’s books. These illustrations are often taken for granted, but they provide a profoundly enriching and immersive experience for kids. Overall, art is a valuable tool for education. Since art is firmly based on perception, each person usually has a unique perspective on a painting. Children view artwork from a very innocent but in-depth perspective, lacking the cynical preconceptions and convoluted judgment instilled in adults. Consequently, it helps to analyze and develop individual opinions, especially with high-quality art that is visually stimulating. In literature, illustrations help to visualize the story. It helps kids to grasp the meaning of any given plot (Frey).
A similar notion occurs with the use of animals in literature and art for children. Animals are a staple of this genre, not for entertainment, but the practicality of helping children to understand. There is an assumed awareness of children about animals which can be used to model social values and behavior. Similar to domesticated animals, children can sense powerlessness but simultaneous fascination about a world dominated by adults (Shaw). Jungle Fun illustrates a group of safari animals in the same ecological environment. Despite, a variation of predators and herbivores, the animals are peacefully coexisting by a source of water. In fact, various relationships are demonstrated in the painting, such as parent and child, mating pair, and symbiosis. Although the artist’s intentions are unknown, it can be analyzed that the aesthetic painting accurately reflects the complex interactions that occur, both in biology and human society.
It is evident that Sophie Harding’s artwork uses tremendous creativity and possibly maintains an educational or symbolic purpose. Despite its simplicity, the Naïve Art style presents a lot of depth and exploration. Consequently, illustrations such as Jungle Fun can be comprehended by children and utilized to relay specific literary plots or social values.
Frey, Susan. “Art Appreciation Helps Young Children Learn to Think and Express Ideas.” EdSource. 2015, Web.
“Naïve Art.” Tate, n.d., Web.
Shaw, Matthew. “Children’s Animal Tales.” British Library. 2015, Web.