Two Maine authors who knew Dahlov Ipcar and wrote about her life and work will speak about the artist during upcoming talks at the Portland Public Library, where an exhibition of Ipcar’s illustrations for children’s books is on view through Dec. 23 in the Lewis Gallery.

Pat Davidson Reef, author of the visual biography “Dahlov Ipcar: Artist,” will speak at noon Monday, and Carl Little, who wrote “The Art of Dahlov Ipcar” and helped produce the film “Dahlov Ipcar: Maine Master,” will give a tour of the exhibition at noon Nov. 15.

The exhibition, “Dahlov Ipcar: Stories,” includes watercolors that Ipcar made for the children’s books she illustrated and mostly wrote herself beginning in 1945. Of the 40 books she illustrated, 30 are represented in the exhibition. Among the 65 illustrations, many have never been shown.

She once said, “I have long felt that a child raised without art is as surely deprived as a child raised without love.”

Ipcar, who died in February, would have turned 100 on Nov. 12. She lived most of her life in Georgetown, and was most famous for her fine-art paintings of animals.

She illustrated her books with obvious joy, Reef said. Her paintings are colorful, happy and lively, bringing to life the action of the words on the page with imaginative images that engage the viewer and expand the narrative, Reef said. Her first book was “The Little Fisherman,” written by Margaret Wise Brown in 1945. That project began a 40-year interest in children’s books, which Ipcar revived later in her life when some of her early books were re-issued. She wrote books about dinosaurs, farm life and family Christmas celebrations.

In his gallery talk, Little will talk about how Ipcar’s illustrations reflected her life, especially as a farmer in Georgetown, and how they influenced her work as a painter. “I will also highlight Ipcar, the animalier — artist of animals — as evidenced by her renderings of all manner of creatures great and small. She was fascinated by pattern and camouflage. She also embraced fantasy and had a passion for knights of old.”

“The Calico Jungle,” from 1965, changed the direction of her non-illustration art, as she began incorporating more color and patterns into her work. “‘The Calico Jungle’ turned out to have a surprising impact on my later art,” she said. “I felt so inspired by the endless possibilities of patterns.”

Reef got to know Ipcar while teaching a children’s literature class at what is now the University of Southern Maine in the 1970s. She used Ipcar’s books in her class, and the students had questions about Ipcar and her art that Reef could not answer. She told the students to put their questions in writing.

“I got Dahlov’s address from the library, and sent them off to her. About five days later, Dahlov answered every question in her own handwriting,” Reef said. “I kept all those answers in a filing cabinet and said, ‘Someday, I am doing to write a book about Dahlov Ipcar and this will be primary source material.’ ”

True to her word, Reef saved the correspondence and used it when she finally got around to writing her book, published in 2016 and now in its second printing. Reef’s book is a visual biography, written with young readers in mind as well as adults. It includes many photos of Ipcar and reproductions of her art. “I wrote it as a labor of love, as a writer and teacher who wanted to share my love of Dahlov’s work,” Reef said. “I love her work because of its color and its intricate design. Any of her work is never boring to look at.”

In addition to the exhibition at the library, Ipcar’s work is on view through Jan. 7 at Rachel Walls Fine Art at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 12, Walls will host a party at the Cape Elizabeth gallery for what would have been Ipcar’s 100th birthday.

Like many people who knew and admired Ipcar, Reef is disappointed Ipcar didn’t live long enough to enjoy the celebration of her children’s books illustrations. “She wanted to be there, and we all thought she would be there,” Reef said. “And I think she would have loved it, because she loved libraries and loved books and loved doing illustrations for children’s books. She once told me, ‘The importance of a fine illustration in a children’s book is that it brings beauty and professional art to children who may never be able to go to a museum.’ ”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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