Our chosen artist – Dr. Seuss

In this blog I along with my partner are going to document our process of mask making, and what led to the design of the mask. To start off we needed to chose an artist and we decided that we were going to base our mask on Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss is an American writer and cartoonist, who has written 46 children’s books. Dr. Seuss’s books are known for their “Imaginative characters”.

And to think I saw it on Mulberry street: (figure 1)
Dr. Seuss was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. His hometown is what inspired Dr. Seuss to write his first children’s book, And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street. And to think I saw it on Mulberry street is about a boy called Marco who witnesses a horse pulling a wagon on Mulberry Street, which then leads him to imagine other parts of that scene until he snaps back to reality and goes home. The story takes place in Mulberry street, Mulberry street is a street in Springfield, Massachusetts that is less than a mile from Seuss’s childhood home.

I a going to use the mulberry sign shown on the front cover of the and to think I saw it on mulberry street book in my mask. I will use this to symbolise Seuss’s youth, and his background.

Yertle the turtle from Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories: (figure 2)
Yertle the turtle was published in 1958. The book is about a “tyrannical turtle called yertle who builds his empire on the backs of suffering citizens”. The book was written post Second World War it was based and was inspired by Adolf Hitler’s tyrannical rise of power. The book was considered a reaction against the fascism of World War II.

This book will influence my mask because I will involve the design of a turtles shell, I will do this because yertle built his empire on the backs of suffering citizens and the backs of turtles are there shells. I am thinking of either doing a crumbling turtle shell or a hole one probably in the shape of the lips.

The Sneetches from The Sneetches and Other Stories: (figure 3)
The Sneetches and Other Stories was published in 1961. The sneetches story in the book is about a group of yellow creatures called Sneetches, some sneetches have a green star on their bellies and others not. The green star leads the sneetches with green star bellies to discriminate those who don’t because they think the star makes them superior. A man called Sylvester McMonkey McBean invents a star-on machine for those Sneetches without stars so they can become like the others and to stop the discrimination. Although the Sneetches who previously had stars don’t feel special so McBean invents a star off machine so they can lose their stars. The star on machine costs $3 to go though and the star off machine costs $10. Although now the Sneetches with stars don’t want stars so they go through the star-off machine. This escalates and soon the Sneetches are jumping from one machine to the other. This only stops when the Sneetches have no money left, now McBean is rich and the Sneetches are poor. Although in the end “the Sneetches learn that neither plain-belly nor star-belly Sneetches are superior, and they are able to get along and become friends.” This story was based on racism and discrimination; Seuss intended to write the book in a satirical way.

This book will influence my mask, as the whole mask will be painted yellow with a line in the middle representing the separation caused by racism. One side of the mask will have a star and the other not portraying Seuss’s satirical representation of discrimination and one of his books.

The Lorax: (figure 4)
The lorax was published in 1971. The story centres around a creature known as the Lorax. The Lorax is the protector of the truffula trees. The Lorax “speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues”. He is trying to prevent the trees from being cut down by the once-ler. The once-ler was cutting down the truffula trees to make a Thneed. As his industry carried on expanding more pollution was being emitted into the area. After the once-ler cut down the last tree, his company shut down and the area was left polluted. The Lorax book was portraying economic and environmental issues. I will add truffula trees to the top of my mask to act as hair because of the fluff of the trees; the tress will also portray the lorax book.

Dr. Seuss is a visual artist and cartoonist. In Dr. Seuss’s illustrations he used pen and ink. In his earlier novels he only used black, white and two other colours. In his later books he started using more colours such as in the lorax. Seuss never used straight lines his lines were always “rounded and somewhat droopy”. Like many cartoonists Seuss used motion lines, when used this technique was very affective as it gave a sense that the object was moving.

Dr. Seuss was specifically inspired by 20th century America. The events going on during the 20th century were very influential in the plots of Seuss’s books. Common themes used in Seuss’s work where morality, politics, culture, economics, environment and society. His themes were based on events going on in the time period of his writing such as discrimination. His drawings and books reflect these themes such as environmentalism as seen in (figure 4).

We chose Dr. Seuss because he was a visual artist and since he had so many books we had many options as to how the mask would be designed and how or mask would reflect his work. We also chose him as our muse because our mask would then also be aesthetically pleasing to children, as they would recognise the characters and know who the mask was made for.

And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Digital image. Wikimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. .

And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Digital image. Wikimedia. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/37/And_to_Think_That_I_Saw_It_on_Mulberry_Street.png&gt;.

User Image. Digital image. Blogimg. N.p., n.d. Web. .

User Image. Digital image. Blogimg. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://blogimg.goo.ne.jp/user_image/13/6e/e42cee358c14df48a739a89bac290543.jpg&gt;.

Mack the Turtle. Digital image. Niabischmaltz. N.p., n.d. Web. .

Mack the Turtle. Digital image. Niabischmaltz. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://niabischmaltz.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/mack-the-turtle.jpg&gt;.

The Lorax Example Page 4. Digital image. Seussblog. N.p., n.d. Web. .

The Lorax Example Page 4. Digital image. Seussblog. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://seussblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/the-lorax-example-page-4.png&gt;.


One comment

  1. aussiedutchman · January 13, 2015

    Its great to learn more about the motivations behind Seuss’ work. I love that there is a deeper meaning or ‘moral’ to his work.


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