Sunday, 12 September 2010

Tribute to Norman Thelwell

Sorry for no posting yesterday because I was at someone's house and I was remembering the tragic deaths to the innocent victims of those who were killed in the planes of 9/11; shame two planes crashed the Twin Towers, and one hit the Pentagon and one in a field in Pennsylvania. Tragic, and apparently I heard that 800 children were sent to an orphanage. Sad.
This tribute is about Norman Thelwell (3 May 1923 - 7 February 2004), and I'll explain some of the drawings and here are some parts in a small biography in his website Thelwell's:
Norman Thelwell was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, on 3 May 1923. His earliest surviving drawing is a pencil self-portrait done at the age of 10, on which his teacher has written in red ink: 'V. good indeed'. He remembers always wanting to draw as a child and recalls finding drawing and painting much easier than other subjects - 'with drawing, the answer was always there in front of you - you only had to look'. His love of the countryside was fostered by childhood visits to a North Wales farm and was strengthened throughout his life.
His first cartoon for Punch was published in 1952 and led to a relationship which lasted for 25 years and over 1,500 cartoons, including 60 front covers. His first pony cartoon was published in 1953 and, by accident, led to a lifetime of association with the image of the little girl and the fat hairy pony. As he says: 'I was a sort of unofficial country cartoonist, doing funny drawings that involved birds, cattle, pigs and poultry. One day I did a pony drawing and it was like striking a sensitive nerve. The response was instantaneous. People telephoned the editor and asked for more. Suddenly I had a fan mail. So the editor told me to do a two-page spread on ponies. I was appalled. I thought I'd already squeezed the subject dry. I looked at the white drawing block and wondered what on earth to do. In the end I dreamed up some more horsey ideas and people went into raptures.' The 'Thelwell pony' was born.


There's more about him on his website - and one of the reasons that makes Norman Thelwell memorable are his fabulous drawings of fat girls and stubby ponies - and he was a great watercolourist and I'd like to show you some of his works that he was responsible for...

"She loves that pony - she's never out of the saddle!"

Flower & Vegetable Show

Over the sticks

"...A good all rounder..."


Beware of the Bull
Riding School
"When did you start feeling that people were ignoring you?"

"They are all irresistible when very young..."

Thelwell's Magnificat
There are many reasons why men go fishing
That's all I'm showing for Thelwell - if you want to see some stuff by Norman Thelwell you'll see most of his stuff in the Thelwell website and he's got lots and lots of books in print with many of his great illustrations. This is the famous 'Thelwell' signature, although not well known as the 'Disney' signature or the 'Matt Groening' signature but that's still famous - its used in a lot of his drawings - he was a great draughtsman and a gifted artist.

(Norman Thelwell working on a cartoon at his office)
One of the reasons why I'm posting this is because well I'm telling the truth and this is certainly no lie at all...he's sort of related to me! Yes, this is true he is sort-of a relative of mine but not much of one really; Its a long story; my Dad was actually adopted when he was young and he does know his real mum and her name is Betty Thelwell (whom I saw at Easter), and several years ago when I was a baby she married Ron Thelwell who is actually the cousin of Norman Thelwell and I only found that out a few months ago and my step-grandfather Ron passed away in April 14, 2010 when he was 94 (Ron was born on April 30, 1915) and it was a shame since I was visiting my grandmother then and me and my family visited her the day after Ron died. I found out that Norman Thelwell was Ron's nephew and I'm not sure if Ron was a cousin or uncle to Norman - but this is how it works and now my grandmother Betty is a widow and is still named Betty Thelwell - so to put it this way, Norman Thelwell is my step great-uncle, although he isn't related but there must be some level of being related here.
My step-grandfather Ron had a career himself, what we did know about him was that the truth was he designed the Dove shampoo-logo although I don't know if he designed the bird or the logo or even both, but this is true and its a shame that he didn't get recognition for this beautiful design and this is just the way a logo should be. I always described Ron as my grandfather because all my real grandfathers died before I was born, and now I have no grandfathers left and my great-step grandmother died about three weeks after Ron Thelwell did and Betty is my only grandparent still alive.
Although, I've never met Norman Thelwell neither has my Dad or Mum but my grandmother has met him and I wish I could have met him - he was a great watercolourist and draughtsman himself - I'd like to know this to the world...

6 comments:

Eric Noble said...

That is so cool!! I would count it as being related!! I wish I was related to a famous cartoonist. I may be related to Daniel Boone (not sure), who is also related to Tex Avery. Don't quote me on that. I'm not sure how the genealogy works.

These are beautiful drawings. Such craftsmanship and artistry. Thank you for sharing these.

Steven Hartley said...

Yes, its interesting that some relatives have some fame - I also have an unconfirmed relative and I might be related to a German chemist named Carl Bosch who won the Nobel Prise in Chemistry 1931 and we are not sure if he's relative and I don't know how the genealogy works either.

Roberto Severino said...

This is some very interesting stuff, Steven. I've never heard of Norman Thelwell before, but these watercolor drawings and paintings are simply remarkable. I also agree with Eric. It must be amazing being related to a famous cartoonist, even if you're not sure of the fact.

Steven Hartley said...

Roberto, Thank you for sharing - I'm glad you like the Norman Thelwell designs and the tribute I posted even though he's sort of a relative of mine.

Yes, it does feel a little good being related to a cartoonist because drawing and animation are my two passions and I wonder if this is an inheritage because my grandmother married Ron Thelwell (related to Norman) when I was a baby.

chrisallison said...

great colors! great find, dude

Anonymous said...

are norman thelwells limited edition prints worth much .