About Darrell

Art studies

Ruth Van Sickle Ford Watercolor in plein aire
Ruth Van Sickle Ford, Darrell’s watercolor instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art

Darrell Wiskur pursued a career in book illustration, specializing in children’s and wildlife illustration, following the study of art and design at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in 1960 and 1961 and an apprenticeship at Feldkamp and Malloy [Chicago].

Lazy Daisy coaxed by a carrot to pull the sorghum press
Lazy Daisy coaxed by a carrot to pull the sorghum press

After working briefly in commercial advertising, Darrell began free-lancing as an illustrator for children’s books.

His first series of children’s book illustrations was for Benefic Press, titled Butternut Bill, written by Edith McCall. Children learned about the Ozarks as they followed the adventures of Butternut Bill and Lazy Daisy, his donkey.

Photography

Nature and wildlife are the main focus of Darrell’s photography. He works with existing light. His photography appears in theme park guide books and brochures, corporate identity brochures, and playing cards published for:

Design

Darrell was awarded a patent on an Acoustical Fishing Lure instrument (7,325,357), a crank squirt gun, and a randomizing device for game play.

Published works

Author and illustrator

A published author, Darrell wrote and illustrated seven children’s books:

  • Silver Dollar City’s ABC Words & Rhymes, ©1977 [SDC theme park]
  • Timothy Whale’s Rainbow, ©2000
  • The Really Big Barn on Noah’s Farm, ©2001
  • Dinky Dinosaur, Who’s My Friend, ©2002
  • Dinky Dinosaur, Creation Days, ©2002
  • Take a Trip on the Silver Ship: Undersea Journey, ©2002
  • Take a Trip on the Silver Ship: Great Creatures, ©2002

Dinosaur art

Darrell’s first dinosaur illustrations appeared in Field Enterprises Childcraft Annual. The illustrations focused on vanishing wildlife and included dinosaurs, designed in collaboration with a paleontologist.

shonisaurus, belemite
Shonisaurus, a belemite and sea dinosaur, from Dragons of the Deep, Ocean Monsters Past and Present
Shonisaurus skeletan
Shonisaurus skeleton, a marine dinosaur

A more recent work on dinosaurs was Dragons of the Deep, Ocean Monsters Past and Present, published in 2005: a work that included 21 main illustrations, along with companion skeletal illustrations and art that illustrated the differing features of dinosaur anatomy.


Early illustration in the Christian book field

book cover art with a fish and a mouthful of money
The Thousand Dollar Fish, a Sugar Creek book by Paul Hutchens

Darrell illustrated a series of Sugar Creek Gang mystery books by Paul Hutchens, for Moody Press in the 60s and 70s. The books had intriguing titles, written for young adventurers, i.e., “We killed a Wildcat at Sugar Creek,” published 1958, 1966.

The series was all about “treasure hunts, mysteries, haunted houses, blizzards, and storms,” and made for exciting reading with a twist of humor.

The popular Sugar Creek Gang series has been reprinted with numerous versions of cover art. Written over 50 years ago, the series retains its popularity and is available in print and on DVD.

Cover illustration for Sugar Creek the Blue Cow
Sugar Creek the Blue Cow

You won’t find Darrell’s name listed as illustrator on the cover page because Moody Press did not credit the illustrator for art, so Darrell often signed his name in tiny letters in the corner of the art.

Illustrating The Sugar Creek Gang series was one of Darrell’s first—and favorite— book series, and he had the honor to work with a kind and wonderful Christian book editor at Moody Press [Moody Publishers], Howard Fisher.

Selection of book covers, illustrated by Darrell for the Sugar Creek Gang series
  • Sugar Creek Gang and the Thousand Dollar Fish
  • Sugar Creek Gang the Blue Cow, 1953, 1971
  • Sugar Creek Gang, the Cemetery Vandals, 1961, 1972
  • Green Tent Mystery at Sugar Creek, 1950, 1969
  • Shenanigans at Sugar Creek, 1947, 1969
  • Sugar Creek Gang, Teacher Trouble, 1947, 1969
  • Sugar Creek Gang in Chicago, 1941, 1968
  • A New Sugar Creek Mystery, 1946, 1967
  • Adventures in an Indian Cemetery, 1947, 1967
  • Further Adventures of the Sugar Creek Gang, 1940, 1967
  • Sugar Creek Gang Goes North, 1947, 1967
  • The Sugar Creek Gang, 1940, 1966
  • We Killed a Wildcat at Sugar Creek, 1958, 1966
  • Lost in a Sugar Creek Blizzard, 1950, 1965
  • Wild Horse Canyon Mystery, 1959, 1965
  • Sugar Creek Gang Goes Western, 1957
  • North Woods Manhunt, 1948