Friday, February 07, 2014

Winnie Fitch in the '60s (Part Two)

For six years during the 1960s, Winnie Fitch did countless illustrations for Children's Protective Services of the Mass. Society for protection of Children.




Winnie's work appeared on all manner of communications materials, from information flyers and brochures to Christmas cards to newsletters.




At the same time, Winnie was providing Filene's, an historic Boston department store, with children's fashion illustrations.



These ads sometimes afforded Winnie the opportunity to draw what her husband John Houston describes as "her favourite life-long subject..."


"... mermaids!"



Years later, Winnie continued creating charming mermaid images, which are available as digital prints from her online store.


* Winnie Fitch and John Houston's website

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Winnie Fitch in the '60s

The 1960s was a busy decade for Winnie Fitch. There was a move from Chicago to New York and then to Boston and assignments for advertising and promotions like the performance program booklet below.




In the early '60s she began the first of many textbook assignments for publishers Allyn & Bacon/Boston, and D.C. Health/Boston.


In the following years, Winnie produced covers and interior art for textbooks on ecology, music, reading, math and Spanish, with subject matter spanning from Grade 1 to college level.


In the mid-to-late '60s Winnie illustrated children's books for Whitman Publishing, Golden Books and Dell.





Eugenie Jenkins, a long-time friend and neighbour who was just 11 or 12 when her family moved in next door in 1963 recalled, "Even as a child, I knew Winnie possessed an extraordinary talent."


"Winnie's bedroom upstairs had the most wonderful oils of [her children] Tracy, Marc and domestic scenes. She used her children as models."


"She had had the attic turned into her studio where she did almost all her work. It was an amazing space -- modern and old all at the same time. A Shaker-like quality pervaded the whole house. It smelled of pine and age in a wonderful way. The floorboards were worn and creaky, the stairs suicidally steep. The whole house was a work of art, just the fruit in a bowl on the table could have been a MOMA installation."


Eugenie continues, "Winnie would have commercial projects that kept the family fed and when deadlines would come up, the whole household was held captive. The strain could be felt even at our house."



"I'm sure [Winnie's daughter] Tracy can tell you more about her commercial clients."


"I just remember the fury that would overtake the house when the deadlines loomed."


Tomorrow: More of Winnie's commercial work from the 1960s.

* Winnie Fitch and John Houston's website

* Winnie Fitch's art prints are available for purchase at

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Winnie Fitch in the 1950s

Last year I posted some 1950s advertising art by a female illustrator of the mid-20th century named Winnie Fitch.


After doing some research online I was pleased to discover that Winnie Fitch has a website. I managed to get in touch with Winnie's family and a correspondence began.


Not long thereafter, a large manila envelope arrived, bulging with black and white and colour copies of Winnie Fitch's work from all the different periods of her career.


Also enclosed; some photos of Winnie and a letter detailing her career. Winnie's husband, musician and composer John Houston, kindly jotted down copious notes on the items he'd sent. For instance...

Here's a wonderful shot of Winnie and her friend Jo Alice during their art school days...


Just a year after graduating, Winnie Fitch was already hard at work in the industry. Here is her cover for the 1950 Marshall Field Co. Christmas catalogue.


From the Leo Burnett Company's Chicago office, where she freelanced, Winnie produced charming illustrations for many of America's best known and favourite brands.


Her accounts included Rice Crispies, Mars Candy Bars, Dial Soap...


... Dole Pineapples, Pillsbury Pancakes and many others...


... all appearing in wide circulation national magazines like Life, Look and Seventeen. There were also corporate sponsored booklets and brochures. Below, a gorgeous little cover illustration for a 1958 Kimberly Clark Corporation booklet.


Winnie's work was not restricted to advertising alone. She began getting assignments from book publishers early in her career. Here is the cover of the 1952 book, You and Your Amazing Mind, for Children's Press...


... and the from the following year, for the University of Chicago Press.


Winnie collaborated on both books with her then-husband, Joe Phelan. Many more book projects would follow.

Tomorrow: Winnie Fitch in the 1960s.

* Winnie Fitch and John Houston's website

* Winnie Fitch's art prints are available for purchase at