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1. Illustrators On Pet Parade


We don’t purport to cover the waterfront here. But every once in a while it’s fun to do a roundup of items under the tag of children’s book illustration, which is another way of saying “string some things together that aren’t really  related.”

Or lazy writing, in other words.  But hey — it’s  summertime  in Central Texas.

So let me start with this image of a few of the Inklings basking  in the July heat  at the Central Market Cafe.  The Inklings are a picture book critique group in the Austin, Texas  Chapter of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)

Some of the Inklings of Austin SCBWI during a recent Sunday a.m. huddle: Louise Shelby, Amy Farrier, Torran Anderson, Salima Alikhan and Marsha RitiWe converge on our own one Sunday morning each month. There’s almost always a new face  and anywhere from four to 12 familiar faces.

We’ll read each others stories aloud,  or leaf through someone’s portfolio, or ponder a storyboard or two, or bring our latest book discoveries.

Mostly we all talk at the same time, everybody at once like the mice in Diane Stanley’s  picture book  The Conversation Club.

(Nobody seems to be talking too much here, though. We must not have had our second cups of coffee yet.  Left to right are  Louise Shelby,  Amy Farrier,   Torran Anderson,   Salima Alikhn and Marsha Riti.)

A Glowing Afternoon

was enjoyed by picture book author  Chris Barton and his many fans at his debut signing at BookPeople earlier this month.

The Day Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand New Colors (Charlesbridge Publishers 2009) is narrative science writing for kids at its best.

The Day-Glo Brothers" by Chris Barton, illustrated by Bill Slavin It’s illustrated in a smart & sassy 1950s cartoon style  (with some nice day glo hues thrown in) by Tony Persiani.

The combination of crisp text that keeps you excitedly turning pages and the plentiful, high energy line-art that suits the narrative perfectly has garnered the book starred reviews in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.

Which is a little like lightning striking three times (in a good way.)

Through years of trial and error and a few happy accidents the Switzer brothers learned  how certain resin and dye mixtures could result in an orange that was “oranger-than-orange.”  They had found an interaction of certain chemicals with  light wavelengths that we now take for granted as Day-Glo paint.

Their experiments began as an enhancement to  one brother’s magic act and led to production of the paint on a massive scale in World War Two. (The colors were used for signaling and signage–  and probably saved many, many  lives!)

Reading this little known story is an unfolding experience of  discovery.

A Glowing Moment for Picture Book Author Chris Barton and his many fans at his debut signing at BookPeople July 11 for "The Day-Glo Brothers."  Photo by Donna Bowman Bratton.

Chris and a helper and a standing room only crowd at Austin’s BookPeople.

Photo by Donna Bowman Bratton

These days, some of the best information on children’s book illustration is

Found on the blogs

English Children’s picture book illustrator and author-illustrator Lynn Chapman shows us on her blog, An Illustrator’s Life For Me “before and after versions” of a double page spread — replete with her notes to herself  for one book assignment.

She says she’s just mailed in final art for  Bears on the Stairs by Julia Jarman to their editor at Anderson. Now she’s waiting to learn how many changes she’ll have to make.

Vancouver illustrator Kirsti Anne Wakelin gives us a generous glimpse into her line art on her blog My Secret Elephant. She talks about her tools, how she uses reference in her work.

Click on the tab that says “Illustration Process” for her posts  showing progress reports on a book assignment she’s been working on all year.

James Gurney amazes…

He’s the creator of the  Dinotopia books.

He also maintains one of  the premier ” artist’s process” blogs with his daily  Gurney Journey.

A lot of  art instruction is shared here as he allows you to follow him at work over his drawing board with  with photos and close-up videos

You can follow him with photos and close up videos of him at work. Below are some posts in which he lets us look over his shoulder as he completes a commissioned poster for an upcoming festival in France.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Three (b)

Part Four

Part Six

Part Seven

Jumping Juxtapositions, Batman!

Mark  Blevis interviews illustrator Raul Colón at the Jewish Libraries 2009 Convention. Click here for the podcast on the engaging blog hosted by him and Andrea Ross Just One More Book.

In a second interview Colón goes into more detail with Blevis about how he and his illustration students will find inspiration by bumping two unrelated things into each other,  the way Stanley Kubrick bumped The Blue Danube Waltz into his shots of the massive spacecraft in 2001, A Space Odyssey.

Common sense or experience might have told us this,  but now researchers have found that multi-tasking can reduce your performance level to that of someone who is inebriated.  Check out the post  on Lateral Action, a blog on creativity.

Did you eat, Stanley?

Stanley's Beauty Contest" gives us the dog's point of view of one of those dog shows.

"Stanley's Beauty Contest" gives us the dog's point of view of one of those dog shows.

Stanley’s Beauty Contest by Linda Bailey (Kids Can Press, Toronto) is a funny romp (Stanley’s,  of course and his new foo-fooed friends.  He’s hungry because he missed breakfast.) through a Best of Show (read: many, many dogs) competition.

The scratchy/warm ‘n fuzzy textured illustrations are by Bill Slavin.

Several famous children’s book illustrators are included in the Publisher’s Weekly exerpt from Anita Sibley’s new book from Roaring Brook,  Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Children’s Book.

My favorite part of fondthe excerpt was  Thatcher Hurd fondly talking about Kenneth Grahame’s  The Wind in the Willows (originally illustrated  by Ernest Shepard.)  Hurd refers to Mr. Toad as “surely the id personified.”

Ernest Shepard's depiction of Mr. Toad from "Wind in the Willows

Ernest Shepard's brilliant version of Mr. Toad from "The Wind in the Willows"

Can’t contain yourself? Click on  “Leave a comment” at the top of the post. Think of  the box that opens as your op-ed page.

For some free lessons on using color with cunning  in watercolor,  click here.



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