Woodcut (4 color reduction)
4" x 4"(image) 5.5" x 7.5" (paper)
Water-based inks on Rives BFK
Edition of 6
Took another stab at depicting my daughter's new model hippo. Her love of hippos began with her many cleverly written and happily illustrated Sandra Boynton books, such as Hippos Go Berserk.
I'm rather pleased with this final image. The colors are so cheery, a fun contrast to that wide open mouth with giant canines and incisors. It is an odd thing that children so delight in cute toys and stories about animals, which in reality are quite dangerous. Real hippos have killed more people than lions, despite being herbivores (not to mention being such a cute, roly poly shape.) The Straight Dope has a rather colorful article on the subject. We like to protect children from such harsh realities. Like Boynton's illustrations, take the vicious hippo and replace the large, sharp teeth with a silly smile (and maybe some fuzzy pajamas.) Of course there's a logic to this sheltering. Children are too inexperienced to put things like a boatman being chomped to death for accidentally getting between a mama and baby hippo into a larger context, and particularly sensitive children might come to fear hippos in perfectly safe environments, such as the zoo. And by first acquainting children with appealing and benign images of animals, we establish positive associations that can motivate an interest in learning about animals, and a sense of love and respect for them. After all, are horrific these deadly encounters with them are, wild animals only do what comes to them naturally. If we love, respect, and learn about them, we'll find better ways to avoid getting chomped.