Since 1964, Jerry Pinkney has illustrated over 75 children’s picture books. His detailed watercolor illustrations have won five Coretta Scott King Awards and five Caldecott Honor Medals (including a 2003 Honor for Noah’s Ark). Many of Jerry Pinkney’s books address African American, multicultural, and historical themes. Most recently, he has adapted and illustrated classic tales such as Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling. Jerry Pinkney collaborates regularly with authors Julius Lester, Patricia McKissack, Robert San Souci, and his wife, Gloria Jean Pinkney. In addition to children’s books, Jerry’s artwork has appeared in museums, magazines, greeting cards, and on U.S. postage stamps. Two of his children, Myles and Brian, have also become successful children’s book illustrators.
From a very young age, Brian Pinkney loved to draw and paint. Using old brushes and scraps of paper, he tried to replicate his father’s watercolor art. Brian painted in a large closet that his mother had converted into a child-sized art studio. His passion for drawing and painting eventually led him to the School of Visual Arts in New York City. While earning a master’s degree in Illustration, Brian discovered scratchboard – a lesser-used medium that actually scratches designs into an inked board. His scratchboard art has since won two Caldecott Honor Medals and two Coretta Scott King Awards. Brian illustrates his own stories and those of other authors. He most often collaborates with his wife, author Andrea Davis Pinkney.
When Myles Pinkney was in middle school, he discovered photography. Despite his interest in painting, photography quickly became his favorite way of capturing life’s images. Myles worked as a photojournalist for newspapers and magazines before opening his own portrait and freelance photography studio. In the year 2000, Myles and his wife, Sandra L. Pinkney, teamed up to produce Shades of Black, a photo-illustrated children’s book that won numerous awards. In 2002, they published A Rainbow All Around Me, another photo-illustrated book from Scholastic that celebrates the racial diversity of children. This newest book was nominated for the NAACP Image Award.
The Pinkney Story
Jerry Pinkney was born in Philadelphia in 1939. Despite his difficulties with reading and spelling, he graduated from elementary school with honors. As early as the first grade, Jerry became known as the class artist. His parents and teachers recognized, supported, and encouraged his artistic talents. After graduating from Dobbins Vocational School in Commercial Art, Jerry Pinkney received a full scholarship to attend the Philadelphia Museum College of Art. He met his wife, Gloria Jean, while studying at Dobbins.
Jerry and Gloria Jean Pinkney later moved to Boston and raised four children. They exposed their children to a wide variety of visual, musical, and performing arts, but did so without pressure or expectation. Brian Pinkney liked to draw, paint, and make little figures out of pipe cleaners. Myles also liked to draw and paint, but by middle school had become enamored with the magic of photography.
Like his father, Brian began illustrating children’s books in watercolor. But once he discovered scratchboard, it soon became his signature medium. Brian has now illustrated over two-dozen books, including his wife Andrea’s Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, which received a Caldecott Honor in 1999. Myles Pinkney worked as a photojournalist and freelance photographer before his recent entrance into the world of children’s books with his wife, Sandra. Myles’ stunning photographs have received awards and praise from parents, teachers, and children.
Although Jerry, Brian, and Myles live in different parts of New York State, they encourage each other and even collaborate on projects. Together they co-illustrated Gloria Jean Pinkney’s 2001 book, In the Forest of Your Remembrance. All three illustrate books that their wives write. So whether it is Jerry and Gloria Jean, Brian and Andrea, or Myles and Sandra, the Pinkney name is well known and easy to find on library shelves.