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Annie Vallotton

24 Sep
Annie Vallotton Bible illustrations

Annie Vallotton drawings from Good News For Modern Man, pp. 114 and 165 (1966 edition).

Annie Vallotton

“I drew some of the drawings eighty to ninety times before I achieved the one I wanted. I wanted to get to the truth, which is the most important thing.” Annie Vallotton ( from an interview on the Bible Illustration Blog)

Pharisee stands tall
hands clasped over robed paunch
beatific smile on heaven-raised face
while tiny Publican (rendered in five lines)
crouches in the distance
head down, shoulders stooped.

Beat-up rag of a traveler lies
arm out, helpless. Good Samaritan
kneeling beside grabs attention
with the tilt of his featureless head.
Even donkey across the road
looks concerned.

Minimalist, stick-figure theology
cartoon-like but not funny
iconic, simple
elegant, out-of-time
“maximum expression
with a minimum of lines”
more literal than interpretive
emotion-filled as freeze frames in a play
Annie Vallotton’s black-and-white
line-drawings illuminating
Good News for Modern Man.

Illustrations so simple they look
like a child could draw them.
So clear a child can grasp their truth
and adults looking on become
children again.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

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I was fascinated by the Annie Vallotton illustrations when I first saw them long ago in my once new, now yellowing paperback Good News For Modern Man. When I was putting my children’s devotions online some years ago and seeking pictures, I contacted the Good News Bible people and they actually gave me permission to use the Vallotton illustrations on the blog (with attribution)!

Annie Vallotton was born in Switzerland in 1915, lived much of her life in France, and died only two years ago (in December 2013) at the age of 98. Articles and interviews reveal that she was a gifted but humble woman who valued truth, loved the Bible and its stories, and wanted people everywhere, especially children, to love it too.

Today I draw attention to her patience, obvious from the epigram in the poem above. Imagine drawing something 80 to 90 times to get it right!

Her example is a nudge to me to let things take the time they need. As a writer, I want to have the patience to ruminate, to give thoughts, ideas, and opinions time to form, to proofread carefully, to revise after the piece has had some time to cool, to curb my fingers from typing the flash emotional response on social media. Above all, I want to take the time to step back and consider, am I being loyal to God’s truth in all that I write—even the things that make no mention of God at all?

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spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning, where the theme this week is PATIENCE.

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2 responses to “Annie Vallotton

  1. cvarsalona

    September 24, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Violet, there is so much in this post to savor. The illustrations are simple but profound-teaching me to be humble and caring in life. The poem gives tribute to the illustrator and the practice of patience. There is linkage to God’s truths and his patient ways. Thank you for letting me step into a reflective stance in the midst of tedious tasks.

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  2. Bobbie Taylor

    September 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing the artist’s revelation of how many revisions she did. (Sometimes, I think I revise too many times; a sign of wanting to be perfect, more than one of being patient.)..The line of yours that I treasure is this one: “Above all, I want to take the time to step back and consider, am I being loyal to God’s truth in all that I write—even the things that make no mention of God at all?” .”..-even the things that make no mention of God at all…” Thank you! What a challenge to put patience into proper perspective. MANY THANKS!

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