LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Prince Charles bestowed a knighthood Wednesday on Quentin Blake, whose scratchy drawings of Roald Dahl characters have made him one of the world’s best-loved children’s illustrators.
Collecting the honor at Buckingham Palace, 80-year-old Blake said the secret of his success was to imitate the facial expressions of his subjects, who include the characters of Dahl’s Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
“The thing is to draw it as though you’re acting it at the time,” he explained. “I do the expressions, which are very strange.”
Blake’s first drawings were published in Britain’s satirical Punch magazine when he was just 16. He went to study English at the prestigious University of Cambridge.
He has illustrated some 300 books over a 64-year career – most famously providing quirky ink and watercolor drawings for Dahl’s fantastical tales, though he also worked with other authors including Dr Seuss and Michael Rosen.
He has written around 30 of his own heavily illustrated books, and became a familiar face on British television in the 1970s, doing illustrations on the children’s program Jackanory.
These days, the artist said he did a lot of work providing illustrations to brighten up hospitals.
“I started about six years ago and was invited to do some pictures for a residential ward for elderly patients in a mental health center,” said Blake, now Sir Quentin thanks to his knighthood.
“They’re good for parents and relations bringing someone into hospital because they realize that it’s a place where some care has gone into what the place looks like.”
Blake’s knighthood was announced in December in Britain’s New Year’s Honors List, which was dominated by sporting heroes who won medals for Britain at the London 2012 Olympics including cyclist Bradley Wiggins and runner Mo Farah.
Away from the Games, singer Kate Bush, artist Tracey Emin and fashion designer Stella McCartney were also honored in the list.
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