Monday, July 01, 2013

Muriel Wood, a Canadian Illustrator

As today is Canada Day, I thought I'd like to showcase a Canadian illustrator. And because over the last few weeks my interest has once again turned to female illustrators, I chose to share some work with you today by Canadian female illustrator Muriel Wood.


I actually don't have a whole lot of information on Wood - or very many examples of her work - but I did have these three lovely spreads from Chatelaine magazine, from 1971 and '72 (you can see one above and there are two more further down). I also managed to locate a few biographical details online, and my friend Bryn Havord, who knew Muriel professionally, provided some additional details.

According to her Wikipedia page, Muriel Wood graduated from Caterbury College of Art and began illustrating children's books. Another online source pins the start of her professional career as 1964.

Bryn told me, "I first met Muriel Wood and her husband John in Toronto in 1964, when I was over from the UK buying and commissioning illustration. They told me they wanted to return to England to live, and I told them that if they did I would give them some work. I was art director of Woman's Mirror at the time, and when they arrived in the UK I commissioned Muriel to do some illustrations, and John came to work for me doing page layouts. He was also a competent decorative illustrator, so I got him to do some of that work for me."

(Below, a Muriel Wood illustration from Woman's Mirror, 1965)

Bryn continued, "They lived in Kent where they had originally come from, and rented a very interesting house on the beach in St Margaret's Bay near Dover. It was an Arts and Crafts house which had belonged to there actor Noel Coward. Although we had been quite friendly, I left women's magazines at the end of 1965 to work in national daily newspapers, and we lost touch. I believe they returned to Canada towards the end of 1966."

(Below, Muriel Wood illustration from Home and Gardens, mid-1960s)

Fast forward to the early 1970s and you can see in the Chatelaine spreads below how far Wood's style (and skill) developed in just a few short years.


Canada is a much smaller country by population than the United States. With relatively fewer consumer magazines than our neighbours to the south, it has never been easy for Canadian illustrators to land high profile assignments. That she was receiving commissions from Chatelaine to do double page spreads like these some ten years later, in the early '70s, suggests Muriel Wood's career was going well.


Woods went on to become a full-time instructor in illustration at the Ontario College of Art & Design. She taught at OCAD for ten years. During all the years of her career, Wood continued illustrating children's books.

From Wikipedia:

"Among the books she has illustrated are The Olden Days Coat by Margaret Laurence,"


... Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Old Bird by Irene Morck, Lizzie's Storm by Sally Fitz-Gibbon, Scared Sarah by Mary Alice Downie, and Aram's Choice and Call Me Aram by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Her illustrations have also appeared on Canadian postage stamps."


"She lives with her husband, graphic artist David Chestnutt, in Toronto, Ontario."

(Below, a David Chestnutt illustration from Chatelaine, 1971)


Happy Canada Day!

* Thanks to Bryn Havord for his assistance with today's post!

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