Whimsical art is a vibrant and playful style of art that is childlike and carefree. Commonly associated with children's book illustrations and fairy tale art, this artwork lifts the spirit and makes you happy.
Whimsical art is characteristically (but not necessarily) bright, colorful, and fun. It is the art of childhood and innocence. But it doesn't always have to be sugary sweet and deliciously darling. Art imbued with whimsicality can also include the cutely creepy, the oddly adorable, and the ugly munchkins. For example, Tim Burton's cast of characters in Nightmare Before Christmas are a bizarre bunch of mostly-loveable whimsical characters that emerge from the darker side of human psychology. Such characters express innocence gone awry. They are the shadowy side of whimsicality.
The characters that appear in whimsical art include fairies, elves, gnomes, trolls, aliens, monsters, pixies - basically anything that the imagination can conjure. Whimsical creatures can also include absolutely anything with anthropomorphic (human-like) features... such as a giant tomato with big blue eyes. Or a serpentine sea creature with a penchant for cowboy hats. The common theme is that they are surreal and quirky. Their strangeness is unexpected and often unsettling. They are the stuff of both daydreams and nightmares.
Humans can also find, creep, tumble or crawl their way into whimsical art. When they do, whimsical art will usually depict them as odd humans who have something slightly strange about them. Maybe their eyes are too big, their mouths too small, their ears too close. Maybe their feet are bigger than their heads. Or else they are perfectly "normal" humans (at least on the outside), who find themselves in strange and unsettling scenarios... wandering amidst towering toadstools or swimming in underwater galaxies with mermaids and butterflyfish.
Whimsical creatures do not exist in "real life", or so they say. In the world of the whimsical, imagination rules supreme. Whimsical worlds envelop the realms of mystery and magic, where the surreal is more real than unreal. Such art has the power to take us to other places and to plumb the depths of our most hidden dreams.
There is an innocent poetry to whimsical art. They can tell tales, or they can leave the story-telling up to the viewer. Either way, whimsical art delights and enchants, weaving a charming and spirited path through our imaginations.
You can see my whimsical art on my website.
Tutorials and Articles on Whimsical Art
Follow along as I color in the whimsical nature scene above in my detailed step-by-step colored pencil tutorial!
Check out these tips for creating your own whimsical art!
Get inspired by the whimsical art for children by Mariann Johansen-Ellis, and learn about how she makes her cute art!
Check out the colorful, whimsical artwork of Lindy Gruger Hanson, who creates inspiring images that unite nature and spirit.
Check out the quirky realist art of Karen Hull, such as the cat and fairy colored pencil drawing below!
Learn how to draw whimsical faces from photographs! This whimsical drawing lesson shows you how to look at an ordinary photo and find inspiration for creating whimsical portraits.
Learn how to create your own whimsical art in my book, Draw Groovy!
In the image below you can see some examples of the artwork in my book, which is filled with easy step-by-step lessons on how to draw cute, colorful art such as butterflies, owls, elephants, mandalas, peace signs and more! Draw Groovy was written with kids in mind, but "kids at heart" might have fun with it too!
Get a sneak peek into Draw Groovy with this free sample lesson: learn how to draw a cute owl step-by-step! You can also download a free PDF of the lesson as it appears in Draw Groovy.