Catching Willie Mays (in a children’s book illustration)

How perfect that award-winning children’s book artist Terry Widener has done the pictures for the new picture book by Jonah Winter (just released by Schwartz and Wade) about the greatest all around baseball player ever — Willie Mays.

Terry brings a background of high level advertising and editorial illustration and something else to the many children’s books he’s done on sports figures: The sensibility of a gifted athlete.

Too small to play football on school teams, Widener focused on baseball and mainly golf, which he still avidly plays. In fact he attended art school at the University of Tulsa on a golf scholarship.

After graduation Terry had to choose between two job offers — one as the golf pro at a country club, the other as an ad agency art director. It could have gone either way; Terry went the advertising art route because it paid just a little more per week.

He went on to do design and illustration work for major publications and ad agencies — for national and international clients like Coca Cola, Burger King, The Franklin Mint and Aesculap (a German orthopedic implant manufacturer. )

His first kids’ book illustrations were for Lou Gehrig — The Luckiest Man by David Adler (Gulliver Books/Harcourt Brace) named a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor book, a Texas Blue Bonnet Reading List selection, an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year and an SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist, and received the IRA Teacher’s Choice Award.

Since then his books have attracted more honors and recognition,  including Smithsonian Notable Book of the Year, School Library Journal  Best Book of the Year, the Junior Library Guild List, the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show, the Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and other awards.

Terry paints in acrylics. He’s experimented with a variety of styles in this medium, though now he works in a more painterly, naturalistic style, in the “Old School” children’s book art style of N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle.

That he’s done so many children’s biographies of sports heroes is purely coincidence, he says. What’s no coincidence is the sophisticated-simple design that he brings to these pictures of action and excitement in the ball field, boxing ring and competitive swim lanes — and the comfy authority with which he treats historical settings and scenes.

These videos are excerpts from an in-depth interview Terry gave me for students in the Make Your Splashes — Make Your Marks! course. For more information about this online course on illustrating children’s books, or to receive e-mail news from the “Marks and Splashes” online learning community, go here.

You Never Heard of Willie Mays? by Jonah Winter (Schwartz and Wade) features a lenticular cover illustration. You know those “wiggle pictures” that seem to move when you look at them from different angles? You’d find them  sometimes as surprises inside Cracker Jacks boxes. Schwartz and Wade wanted to use lenticular printing for the covers for this series of picture book sports bios.

The process required Widener to come up with three paintings for the cover. The paintings would animate Mays knocking the ball out of the park, in one of those 50 home run hits of his career.

Terry had to model himself swinging a bat to avoid relying solely on the photos and videos he’d pulled together of the real Willie Mays in the moment — lest he and the publisher end up in a battle with The New York Times and Sports Illustrated over intellectual property!

When dealing with images of sports icons and other stars, be careful to not copy your source material, Terry cautions. Your references are probably all copyrighted!  He couldn’t even render newspaper sports pages of the day as they were, he says. To use them in an illustration he had to change them up a bit — even the wording in the headlines!

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With his art director wife Leslie Widener (also a children’s book author-illustrator) Terry lives in a 100-year-old house in historic McKinney Texas, a few miles north of Dallas, Texas. They’re members of the North Texas chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.)

Terry enjoys doing school visits and receives many invitations for them each year. He can often be coaxed to draw for students in a collaboration where they “art direct” his improvised sketches on the white board.

For a list of Terry’s books and awards go here and to see the covers of some of his books, go here.

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Terry doesn’t illustrate only books on sports heroes. He takes on a variety of projects, like this series of picture books on folks songs with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary.

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IMAGMark and Terry (Laura photo)

Mark Mitchell and Terry Widener share a chuckle at Texas Educational Service Center Region One school librarian’s conference in Harlingen, Texas in September 2012.
(Photo by children’s author-poet Laura Purdie Salas) http://www.laurasalas.com)

Austin SCBWI Kick It Up a Notch! conference delights and inspires 

Renowned illustrator and fine artist E.B. Lewis headlined the Austin SCBWI 2013 conference, Kick it Up a Notch! last weekend at St. Edward’s University. (Below) E.B. drew for pre-K and K students at the Regents School in Austin, Texas.

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He also inspired middle grades at the school.

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E.B. Lewis dazzled illustrators and writers alike with an impromptu watercolor demonstration at a Sunday workshop following Kick It Up a Notch!

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Austin, Texas based illustrator Patrice Barton received the SCBWI Crystal Kite award for her art for the picture book Mine! by Shutta Crum (Knopf) in the reception that kicked off the Austin conference. She and Crum presented a workshop about the making of Mine!.
See the video interview Patty did with this blog about illustrating Mine!

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Caitlin Alexander won first place in the conference Portfolio Showcase that was judged by E.B. Lewis, publisher Neal Porter and agent Rubin Pfeffer. Caitlin receives full tuition to next year’s Austin SCBWI conference and a $200 cash prize from the social media firm, Alter Endeavors, owned by Austin SCBWI’s Nick Alter. Erin McGuire won second place and Laura Logan and Amy Farrier tied for third place in the portfolio competition. All won gift cards from Jerry’s Art Supplies. Photo by author Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Google Drive for Artists free replay

Sign up to see the full recording of the workshop on Google Drive and other great Google tools for illustrators, presented by Pooja Srinivas. Yes, it’s free!

And finally, here is my nomination and vote for the ultimate Valentines Day book.

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Mark Mitchell, who sometimes edits this blog wrote this post.

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World touring sketchbooks

Have you drawn in your sketchbook today? It’s a question that humbles every aspiring children’s book illustrator.

But in our “high touch era” where the handcrafts site Etsy numbers near the top of online marketplaces and scrapbooking became so cool that it inspired the social media phenomenon known as Pinterest, sketchbooks and the art of filling them are no longer restricted to fine artists and commercial artists and hobby painters.

It’s a more general cause celebre and maybe even a craze, if popular blog groups like SketchCrawl, Urban Sketchers and Everyday Matters are an indication. Since 2009 the Brooklyn Art-House Co-Op has been gathering up sketchbooks and sending them on national tour in a traveling library. This year the effort extended across the Atlantic to include London. Hence the name,  2012 Sketchbook Project World Tour

“The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project where participants from all walks of life are sent a sketchbook and have until January 15th to fill the pages and return it for inclusion in a traveling exhibition and permanent collection at The Brooklyn Art Library,” the co-op’s website says.

You can see some 500 photos on the Facebook page. And some more cool photos in this Instagram gallery on Tumblr.

Sketchbook Tour stops in Austin

Our children’s picture book critique group under the Austin (Texas) Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Inklings decided to take part in this year’s tour with a group sketchbook mosaic.

It’s all explained (twice) in this riveting cinéma vérité documentary. Notice how the camera is not only hand-held in the respected auteur tradition, but often entirely neglected as the chronicler starts talking with his subjects and the lens tips to study T-shirts and shoes, picnic tables and dirt on the ground…

Austin (September 12-16) was the last North American stop before the books moved on to London. Starting from Brooklyn they’d already traveled to Chicago, Portland, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Oakland, Lynn, Portland (Maine), Toronto, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Orlando.

Co-Lab Project Space on Allen Street in East Austin was converted into a library replete with signage,  computers, workers, loaded bookshelves and waiting lines.  According to the Brooklyn ArtHouse archive, 2,435 books were checked out and viewed during those four days in Austin and 300 new Sketchbook Project library cards were issued.

The sketchbooks, new ones will be back in Austin next year — at Co-Labs again and at the SXSW Festival scene on March 15-17  for the 2013 World Tour.

Maury Tieman, Martha Carleton, Mark Mitchell, Joyce Chambers-Selber and Allissa Chambers of the Austin SCBWI Inklings — with “Willie Lisa.” Other “Inklings” who participated in the mosaic project included Margaret Jonon Buford, Martin Fry, Ann Hartman, Jeff Crosby and the late Louise Shelby.

November events

The biggest news of recent weeks? No, it wasn’t the U.S. presidential election. It was Disney buying LucasFilm/LucasArts and all Star Wars rights for $4 billion. Here’s a Forbes take on the purchase and more particulars and videos from Mashable. It means more Star Wars movies to come, a re-thinking and possible scrapping of Star Wars games currently on the boards and a new (apparently long overdue) Disney line for boys.

No, Star Wars didn’t start off as a children’s book, but it could have. The Disney purchase evidences the staggering value of an intellectual asset and of what sometimes can happen when a story with good characters ascends to the status of a meme.  This was not a freak occurrence, either. In 2009 Disney paid $4 billion  for Marvel Comics.

The other news of course is the publishing merger. Two of the “Big Six”, Random House, owned by the conglomerate Bertelsmann and Penguin, owned by publishing giant Pearson announced joining forces in a deal exptected to close sometime next year (to counter the threat of Amazon, some industry watchers suggest.) Combined companies willl have a fourth of the English-language consumer book sales, asserts the Publishers Weekly story on the announcement,

The merger takes the “Big Six” down to five:  Random House Penguin, Hachette, Holtzbrinck/Macmillan,  HarperCollins,  which is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the CBS owned Simon & Schuster — with those pesky 21st century publishing upstarts Amazon, Apple and Microsoft nipping at their heels.

November is Picture Book Month and author Dianne de Las Casas with co-founding author-illustrators Elizabeth DulembaKatie DavisTara Lazar and Wendy Martin have assembled this this delightful blog where author-illustrators guest post and the joys and significance of this peculiarly demanding literary art form.

November is also Picture Book Idea Month, if you didn’t know. It’s what PiBoIdMo stands for, writes children’s author Tara Lazar. “Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]? That’s why I created PiBoIdMo, as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers,” she says.  “The concept is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes).” The PiBoiMo part of Tara’s blog  is  loaded full with super “process posts” and tips from practitioners, along with some great author-illustrator “war stories” that will move and inspire you.

On the storm front, Chronicle Books editor Melissa Manlove is offering what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an aspiring picture book author — a FREE PASS to one of her company’s editorial meetings, along with a private  critique before yourstory goes to the meeting. It’s one of many neat auction items touted for KidLit Cares, a Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Read all about it on organizer and children’s book author Kate Messer’s blog.

E.B. Lewis to headline Austin SCBWI conference

Caldecott honor-winning illustrator E.B. Lewis will keynote the conference, Kick It Up a Notch as well as conduct a special illustrators’ intensive on Sunday after Saturday’s main event.

In the video below Lewis speaks compassionately on his painting exhibit Lotto Icons, which began as scribbled ideas in his (what else?) sketchbook.

Drawing in Photoshop

Steve Connor is an abstract fine arts painter, former art director, Adobe CS-6 certified instructor and CEO of Deep4D Digital Media & Training. He demystifies the PS tools and the difference modes of drawing and painting with them in this free 90 minute workshop, Vector and Paint: An Intro to Photoshop.

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Award-winning author-illustrator Mark Mitchell wrote this post. Get on the blog mailing list and see some short videos on  “the best secret” to good drawing.

The title is everything!

Award-winning New York City  illustrator Lisa Falkenstern is working on illustrations for her new children’s picture book.  But she and her editor are having trouble deciding on the perfect title. So Lisa has put out an S.O.S.

Lisa's baby dragon

Lisa's Baby Dragon

She’s asking all readers of How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator to help her out! Help her choose the best name for the book. Because she knows that good titles rule. Because the title is the most important decision an author and/ or her publisher probably make on any given book. Good titles sell books. Blah titles seal their doom.

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Lisa has staked out several firsts here.  It’s the first first picture book that she has authored.
It’s the first time that this blog has been asked for help by an artist colleague.  And it’s the first official reader poll that this blog has conducted in its two year history.

How did the dragon story come about?

Lisa: Long story. I keep a file of images that give me ideas for illustrations. I had a photo of an antique silver eggcup that had chick feet sticking out of a realistically done egg. I liked that and when I got around to working on the idea, the chick became a dragon and lost the claws. It didn’t work. then I played around with the egg and it became an Easter egg. So now I had a portfolio piece.

At that time,  while attending a New Jersey SCBWI [Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators]  meeting, a friend and I were invited to join another writing group, the Hunterdon County Children’s Writers and Illustrators.  We did and it was my husband who suggested I turn that dragon painting into a story.  I did and when I showed up for a first meeting, to my everlasting shame,  I showed up with a story called The Easter Dragon. I worked on that and got a dummy ready for an SCBWI workshop. I showed it to an agent and he pointed out that it wasn’t an Easter story, it was a dragon and bunny story. I went back to work on it, took out Easter, added a hedgehog to the characters, showed it to the same agent and he wasn’t interested.

Not deterred,  I kept working on it and finally showed it to the publisher at Marshall Cavendish at an SCBWI  conference who liked it, but had suggestions. About four revisions later, she liked it enough to buy it.

All that from a photo of an egg cup!

Rabbit and Hedgehog -- two friends

Rabbit and Hedgehog -- two friends who befriend a baby dragon in Lisa Falkenstyern's yet-to-be-named picture book bought by Marshall Cavendish. This spread by Lisa may or may not appear in the finsihed book.

Could you give a brief synopsis of your picture book story — even if it’s just a taste? (We won’t give away much of the plot since the book is not out yet.)

My story is about two friends who come across a baby dragon. And what starts out as fun changes to problems. Let’s just say that things things that are cute small, don’t necessarily remain that way when they grow up,


Why did you choose a picture book format instead of an older, more complex treatment of a dragon story?

I’m an illustrator, not a writer. Until now the most I had written were pithy memos to members of my co-0p when I was president, and that was twenty years ago. I never even had the urge to write. I started to write when I realized that I needed to control what I wanted to paint and that was the simplest way. And — this might sound crass to the purists — I wanted to make the most money I could, doing what I wanted and writing and illustrating a picture book mean 10 percent royalties instead of 5 percent. Plus, I made the basic mistake of beginners. I thought, “How hard can this be?”

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White Cat with Veil, illustration by Lisa Falkenstern

Have you always been interested in dragons and sword and sorcerer style fantasy?

I am interested in fantasy but not the usual way it is meant. More fantastic than fantasy. but I have always liked dragons, but never had an occasion to paint one.

Was the story accepted by an editor whom you had already worked for as an illustrator or cover artist?

I had already illustrated a book, The Busy Tree for Marshall Cavendish and I knew the editor and publisher, Margery Cuyler and the art director, Anahid Hamparian. I had done a few book covers for Anahid and I may have mentioned a few hundred times that I was interested in illustrating children’s books.

Why do you think you and your editor are feeling a little stuck coming up with a title that you both like for this story?

This just seems to be a hard book to title. The whole time I was working on it I was calling it Rabbit and Hedgehog Make a Friend.  But Margery  Cuyler wanted the word “dragon” in the title.And it’s not just me. I have been asking everyone I know for suggestions and no one can come up with a title.  Since this is my first book, I wanted a really great title — something like The Wind in the Willows — that type of title.My running joke is, would Where the Wild Things Are been that famous if it had been called Max Goes to Bed Without his Dinner? Where The Wild Things Are is such a great title for a book, so evocative that it makes you want to pick it up. I mean it’s a great book without the famous title, but I just wonder how many great children’s books remain undiscovered behind a bland title and cover art?

Of these titles that we’ve listed here in the poll, which are your suggestions and which are your editor’s?

Dragon in the House came from a friend in the Hunterdon County Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group. The “There’s a…” got added by Marshall Cavendish and they also came up with A Dragon Moves In. To me they are fine. I like them.  But I keep thinking there may be a better title out there somewhere…

So we’ve added in a “write-in candidate” box to the poll.  Do you mind
our including this as part of  our focus group poll (with the understanding that our voters aren’t expecting remuneration — or a cut of the action for their suggestions)? However, if Lisa does select one of the write-in suggestions to be the title of her book, she’s offering to give a signed print of  her art work  to the creative person who comes up with the “perfect title.”  (We’ll  just need to figure out a way to identify the write-in voter. It might have to be the honor system, which shouldn’t be too hard for the readers of this blog — illustrators being honorable by their very nature.)

I’m not proud. I need all the help I can get.

Walrus by Lisa Falkenstern

Walrus, illustration by Lisa Falkenstern

What stage are you at now with your work on the book?

I’ve just started on the final drawings for the book. I should be done by November.

Have you found the process of creating your own picture book extremely fun, vexing and /or challenging?  Is it everything you thought it would be?
After this experience will you be ready to try another one?

I have to say the process of creating a children’s book is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Mostly because it is the first time I’ve done it. Learning all of the subtleties of making a book that works on all levels has been an eye opener. Now comes the painting part, which is different than anything else I have done.

So I hope I lose weight and not gain it by the time I am finished.

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Mark’s note: I took the matter to my online class last Thursday evening. You can see the chat that ensued while we studied Lisa’s  baby dragon.  (Of such casual discourse great decisions are sometimes made. Well, you can see at least a bit of consensus developing here. But don’t let it influence your vote.)

I voted for “Problem Child.” But, again, please make your own wise choice.

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T: dragon bebeh yay!

K: Oh Lisa this ones great!

T: Lisa’s work is wonderful: wow so cool!

TR: that’s a serious Easter egg surprise

KF: Very cute!|

S: What’s the story?

K: ye? dragon in a Easter egg?

K: lol

Mav: Love that smirk!!!

D: Surprize!

KF: And the smoke!

T: wow

Ti : such detail…

D: she rocks!

S : This is quite beautiful.

T : title for this or the dragon one?

KF: Very realistic!

L: how about “problem child”

S: Do you know what her medium is?

K: thats cool

KF: Or “What Dragon?”… if they’re trying to hide him.

T: very nice

Ti : it’s so fun

Ta: this is very Berkely Breathed chicldren book style

K: I like this spread

Ta: Dragon in the house

M: I like Kim’s suggestion – What Dragon??

KF: Dragon Moves In

Ta: or there’s a dragon in the house

Ti: i like “dragon in the house” — it’s like “mouse in the house” but it’s not the typical animal in the house…

Mav: Dragon in the House

SCM: Perhaps narrowing it even further, even with a kid’s

perspective: “the Dragon in the Bedroom.”

Ta: dragon moves in has been done & it’s liknked to a very

poor early reader in my mind

L: it seems less about a “friend” than raising a “problem child”

Ti: ooh–dragon in the bedroom is fun!

D: ‘Dragon in the House’ or ‘What Dragon?’

S: Dragon in the House.Mav: what’s the story line???

S: I like [SCMs] idea of using a specific room… Dragon in the bedroom,

kitchen, bathroom, basement?

T: knowing the storyline would help more

Ta: “Dragon in the House!” w/that dragon egg on the cover

or expressional faced rabbit & hedgehog

KF: “No Such Things as Dragons”

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Porcupine Fish, illustration by Lisa Falkenstern
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From Lisa’s website: Lisa Falkenstern has been a professional illustrator for more than 20 years. She graduated from Parsons School of Design and has studied at the New York Academy, School of Visual Arts, Art Student’s League, National Academy School of Fine Arts and Cooper Union.

Her client list includes: Borders Group, Simon and Schuster, Random House, Putnam, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Pocket Books, Scholastic, Marshall Cavendish and Golden Books. She has been in numerous shows including, the Society of Illustrators Annual, CA Annual, and Print. She was in the show The Fine Art of Illustration at the Hunterdon Art Museum.

Recently she’s has been chosen to be in the Showcase’s 2007 Best Illustrators 2007  Edition. She is a member of the Society of Illustrators and is in their permanent collection. She’s a Gold Medal winner of the Society’s Member Show. 2007 edition.

She’s had shows in the N.Y.C. Metropolitan area. Besides her illustrations she also does portraits. Lisa generally works in oils, but also in egg tempera, acrylic, and digital.

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Author-illustrator Mark Mitchell hosts the “How to Be A Children’s Book Illustrator” blog. He teaches an online course in drawing and painting for children’s book illustration. Click to discover the best ever drawing secret.

” I wonder how many great children’s books remain undiscovered behind a bland title and cover art”.

Should you advertise in an illustration directory?

For some children’s book artists this interview might be a little hard to hear and to bear.  For others it could offer new hope.

Jo Ann Miller of Serbin Communications’ Directory of Illustration suggests that illustrators think a little bit outside the book.

Jo Ann Miller of Sebin Communications' Directory of Illustration
Jo Ann Miller of Sebin Communications’ Directory of Illustration greets a Transformer at this year’s San Diego Comic Con

You’ve seen artists’ directories —  glossy annuals combined with online portfolio galleries where artists or their reps buy display ads. The Directory of Illustration is the dreadnought battleship of illustration directories, aiming its marketing guns at the entire waterfront of graphic arts, not just children’s publishing. That means children’s products,  fashion and cosmetics merchandising, corporate promotions, retail advertising, medical illustration, the animation industry and even landscape design — to name a few.

With the Toy Industry Association as a partner, the Santa Barbara, Ca. based publisher also produces Play! “Illustration for Toys and Interactive Games — a website for hiring toy and interactive game artists.
Best of Photography Annual, the Medical Illustration Sourcebook and Designer Jewelry Showcase are some other annuals from Serbin Communications.

The Directory of Illustration is going on its 27th year. It’s not cheap being in a dominant industry directory . $2,500-$2,600 gets you a full page with 30 portfolio images. Artists re-up year after year, sometimes sharing pages with others who have the same art rep or agent.  Program benefits include, hardcopy distribution to 20,000 illustration buyers and art directors, national online advertising, free website design and cross promotion with Contact, a leading talent directory in the UK and Europe.

If you’re like me and many freelancers who keep a death grip on their wallets,  you might question spending the equivalent of a small book advance every 12 months to participate in a showcase with a few hundred of your keenest competitors.

Why do it when you can upload  images for free to your Flickr page, WordPress.com  blog,  SCBWI portfolio,  or favorite art web ring. Or mail out your own printed Christmas postcards to the small ranks of active children’s book editors?

You can do it to  reach markets for your art that you might never have thought of,  says Jo Ann.
So lets let her talk us through some of this.

What does the “Directory of Illustration” offer artists who have their hearts set on illustrating children’s books?

I love children’s book illustration and I work with many children’s book illustrators in the directory, but they also do other things.

The children’s publishing market can pay very well but advertising and design generally pays better. The market for children’s book art ebbs and flows.  The in-between target group — ages 12 – 15 (particularly girls)  — based on what iour clients tell me, happens to be very active.
So the first question I always ask illustrators is,  ‘Who is your target audience? What is your age group?’

Illustration by Lisa Falkenstern
Illustration by Lisa Falkenstern

New York illustrator Lisa Falkenstern generally works in oils, but also in egg tempera, acrylic, and digitally. Here’s her directory portfolio page. After 20 years as a professional illustrator,she’s just finished illustrations for The Busy Tree, by Jennifer Ward for ages 5-8, published by Marshall Cavendish.  She’s also written and illustrated her own children’s work that is currently in production.  Treat yourself to a look at her magical website.

Is that what you told aspiring illustrators in the Portland chapter of  SCBWI, when you were invited to speak to them recently?

We discussed how the art buyer looks at the target audience and the age group within that target audience, and things like color — the palette. Right now purple and magenta colors dominate in advertising, so  illustrators showing a lot of purple in their portfolios are getting looks.

I can remember a few years ago when the Razor Skooter first appeared in stores — if an illustrator had a child on a razor scooter, he was appealing to art buyers who were looking to market to that age group.

When Starbucks was ready to launch its franchises around the country every illustrator who had an image of a coffee cup on his page in our directory was getting calls.

So you’re saying it comes down to the marketplace.

Yes. So if you understand how to tell a story and emotionally connect with people in the pages of  Scholastic magazine or a picture book —  can you make the attitude shift to collaborate with an art buyer or a designer to put together a product or package?

If you can, if you can interpolate the needs of the art buyers and you’re  not afraid of taking art direction or design direction, you’ll strengthen your repertoire and make a little more money.

Your children’s illustration on a children’s clothing hang tag.

Tom Kerr illustration
Tom Kerr illustration – a mother bunny

Tom Kerr,  a directory artist based in Omaha works in acrylic, colored pencil, watercolor. pen and ink and digital media. Here’s his directory portfolio page. His light humorous  style has found its way into newspaper editorial cartoons,  magazines, animation characters and 25 books, the most recent being “Math Wizardry for Kids” by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams (Barron’s Publishing.)

New meadows to graze

So your message to artists is,  try to expand into different venues?

Over the years I’ve seen illustrators getting their names in editorial publications because they were doing storytelling art for merchandise packaging. I’ve seen it work the other way, too  — illustrators’ success grow from the editorial audience to the design audience.  That’s  because the same age group that buys a book will buy the game, the cereal, the clothing and the McDonald’s happy meal set with the character toy and all the packaging.

The art buyer looks at the children’s market as being intertwined with comic books, graphic novels, sci fi market and merchandising and advertising. I  don’t think illustrators are always thought of as having a style.  They’re thought of in terms of solving a problem.

You put an image on a book to sell the book…the magazines…
the product… the ad campaign.

So it’s not just storytelling, but it’s also selling a product.

If  you can show the skill set beyond storytelling, you broaden your appeal to the ad agencies and design shows. That means if you can illustrate a story, but you also have certain digital skills, some animation or flash, or modeling and 3-D skills, you’ll often be considered for a variety of products.

Is there a  place in this commercially driven universe for the traditional illustration, rendered with real paint on real paper?

Digital art  seems to get more attention than traditional art. It’s very popular for packaging and creating characters.  It’s used to communicate just about anything. Digital artists get a lot of people looking in their portfolios.

But there are always people — right now especially — looking for that nostalgic, hands on feel in the art. Watercolor, draftsmanship, the simple pen and ink line have a more important place than they had three years ago.  Everybody’s been touched by someone who’s lost a job. People are going through a tough time. They want an emotional comfort level. That means  images that strike an emotional, warm and fuzzy feeling, that appear hand-made rather than in your face and MTV-like.

Would you want your child, your three year old exposed only to  that hard edged computer or  Disney- look?

No!

There’s always a  need  for the humaneness  in visual images particularly  in an economy that’s struggling. And it’s often found in pictures done in the very traditional mediums like watercolor and  pencil. I think artists of that old school style have shied away from promoting themselves.
When they should be embracing opportunities to showcase their art.

So we have artists in the directory like John Parra whose fine art/folk art traditional style finds outlets in  many kinds of publications — including children’s books.

Gracias Thanks by Pat Mora with Illustrations by John Parra

Gracias Thanks by Pat Mora with illustrations by John Parra
who works in acrylic, oils and digitally. See his website.

How to tout one’s own horn in the arts?

In her own life Jo Ann ran up against this vexing question.
At age 18 she became a national dance champion (having studied dance since the age of 5).
She won the title of Miss Dance of America, which led to an invitation to enter the Miss America Pageant, where she tied for 11th place.

At 19, she won Miss New York  State. She entered the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City with her scholarship from the pageant.  “I wanted to dance but I never knew how to promote myself except to audition,” she says. “My father wanted to help.  He was an engineer. He put together a business card for me that said ‘dancer, beauty pageant winner.'”

After college studies in marketing she worked as a Ford Model in New York City.  But an injury while filming a TV commercial forced a career shift — she launched a public relations firm on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.
Her client base came to include Vanessa Williams and President Ronald Reagan.

Over the last 17 years  Jo Ann has worked matching illustrators and  designers with buyers and art directors, first with  the now gone artists directory American Showcase, then Serbin Commuinications and The Directory of Illustration.

Tom Kerr illustration

Page illustration by Tom Kerr

Page illustration by Tom Kerr from the Directory of Illustration

Jo Ann, is it true that the Directory of Illustration is not  for everyone?

Not every children’s book illustrator will be right for the Directory of Illustration.
Not all illustrators have the ‘want to’ or the ability to understand the buyer’s needs.

And if the illustrator doesn’t get it and  he’s not seasoned enough to deal with a call like that then it’s embarrassing for us.  Our job is trying to  match qualified art buyers with qualified illustrators. If they don’t match, we’re not doing our job.

If the illustrator is too amateurish or hasn’t developed his  ‘voice,’  he’s not ready for our program.
We don’t want artists spending money for a program they’re not ready for.

We’re not the vehicle to ‘break in’ with.

I’ve turned so many people away, but with generous insight. Part of the consulting I’m doing is guiding these artists. Most want honest feedback, some idea of how they fit into the industry.

If someone wants a discussion prior to investing in the directory or any kind of marketing  program — I can consult with that person and help them out a lot.  When I work with an illustrator, I make recommendations depending on the artist, trends and many criteria. I don’t tell someone what to do. I guide them, and send them back to the drawing board again and again.

She offers one on one consultations  — usually  in the summer months.
Illustrators are welcome to contact her by e-mail at:  joannmiller@serbin.com
She recommends that they send a short introduction and an image or two ( jpgs or a site link.) And she encourages all artists to check out the Directory of Illustration website .  “There’s a lot to be seen there,” she says.

Painting by Lisa Falkenstern
Painting by Directory of Illustration artist Lisa Falkenstern

Don’t forget two big Texas conferences!

Austin SCBWI comes first with Destination Publication set for Saturday, January 30, 2010.
The one day event features  a Caldecott Honor Illustrator (Marla Frazee) and Newberry Honor author Kirby Larson. The lineup also includes the wonderful  illustrator Patrice Barton doing portfolio reviews, Mark McVeigh an agent who represents authors, illustrators and graphic novel creators for the adult and children’s markets, and editors Cheryl Klein, Lisa Graff and Stacy Cantor (who did work on all of the Harry Potter books!)
Read more about everyone here. Get the the registration form here.  Hurry, the event and only a few portfolio
review sessions are left.

Houston SCBWI has set its conference for Saturday, February 20, 2010.  Headliners include  acclaimed author of short stories, funny picture books, Native American fiction, and YA Gothic fantasies, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Creative director at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers Patrick Collins and editors  Ruta Rimas, Alexandra Cooper and Lisa Ann Sandell.  Download their bios, conference info and a registration form here.

P is for Pinata
P is for Pinata
by Tony Johnston and illustrated by John Parra,
courtesy John Parra and The Directory of Illustration.

* * * * * *

Check out the great drawing instructional videos by Matthew Archambault at Drawing-Tutorials-Online.com

Mark Mitchell teaches children’s book illustration at the Austin Museum of Art Art School and online The next semester of classes begins at the school’s Laguna Gloria campus next month, with Children’s Book Illustration I, January 27 – March 10, 6-9 p.m.

Children’s Book Illustration II March 23  — April 20,  6-9 p.m.

Mark teaches an online course on drawing and painting for illustration “Make Your Splashes; Make Your Marks!” that is self-paced and starts whenever you’re ready. Learn more here.

* * * * * *

When is it OK for adults to criticize other adults? Answer: At a portfolio critique session, of course.

Members of the picture book critique group, \
Some members of “The Inklings” picture book critique group review their portfolios at a pre-conference “emergency session” at Austin’s Central Market Cafe in April.  One of many critique groups in the  Society of  Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Austin Chapter, these “Inklings” were preparing to have their work examined by their peers and artists’ agent Christina Tugeau at the Austin SCBWI Spring Conference that Saturday. Left to right around are illustrators Martin Thomas, Diandra Schwartz, Amy Farrier, Austin SCBWI Illustration Chair Christy Stallop, Sarah Ackerley and Clint Young. 

 
Thumbs up, down or sideways?

It was the nonverbal language of the portfolio huddle. Christy Stallop, author, creator of humorous illustrations and the Austin SCBWI illustration chair initiated the Sunday morning “emergency session” review. It would be an RX for those with portfolio jitters before the regional Spring conference that was set for that Saturday.

All right, review may be too milquetoast a word for what came down at the cafe amid sleepy tables of taco breakfasters and laptop mullers. 

Thumbs up and thumbs down, of course, derived from the Romans deciding fhe fates of fallen gladiators. Thumbs sideways is Christy’s contribution to the vernacular. It means “Toss It.”  
 
“Get it out of your portfolio before it ruins everything !”

Sometimes she would say “Out” flatly while also gesturing thumbs sideways — a sort of combo-imperative.  (Christy is a very talented, “tough love” illustration chair.)

Great pointers from Christy and the group:                  

1.) Get a real portfolio at an art supply shop. It does not have to be large, but it should have pages with protective sleeves to slide your work into, like a photo album.  Never put original art in your portfolio. Only show reproductions — scans and transparencies are best. (See more on that below.)

2.)  Avoid a busy-looking portfolio with busy pages. I.e. Don’t stuff your portfolio — one piece per page is best. Then the viewer can actually see the artwork. Of course the corollary to that is the artwork you select for the page must have an impact and be unassailable. Ask yourself, “Is the piece good enough to stand on its own?”

2.)  Don’t worry too much about “rules” of portfolio presentation or format. Use your common sense.  But do find a way to present and organize your portfolio so that it makes good sense for your work. For example, have all of your art pieces lining up the same way in the album so the viewer doesn’t have to turn it this way and that way to examine pieces right side up.  

Grouping  is nice. It breaks things up in a nice way for a better read and gives the viewer a bit of a rest, too, going through. 

Christy suggested that I group my portfolio into two sections — one for color and one for black and white, with each section prefaced by a title page with some spot art (either B&W or color, suggesting what’s to follow.) 

3.) Get business cards professionally printed before an event such as an SCBWI conference. (Christy expressed this a little more emphatically  to me than that.) If you don’t have a print shop handy and you need the cards fast, try a place like Overnightprints.com They have plenty of templates on their website that you can use to hastily throw together your card — and still it won’t look like an amateur effort. Yes, you will pay to have the cards sped to your doorstep. 

4.) Yes you may include a few of your “tearsheets” or color photocopies of your published work. 
But carry some of your best original art to a print shop and have it professionally scanned there. 

If you’ve scanned your own artwork at home (make sure the resolution is nothing less than 300 dpi) bring your flashdrive or  CD to printshop to have the piece professionally reproduced.  Choose a matte rather than gloss finish. Yes, it is expensive to make these professional scans. If you must economize, use just a few as your portfolio showstoppers.

5.)  Remember you’re showing your art to editors and art directors in the children’s book industry. So consider this in your selections. Kids, animals, people — especially in action. are good. Duh.

Industrial art, however well done, should probably go.  Same with the techy-looking digital game art, graphic design, most cartoons, album covers, machinery, cars, monsters, sci-fi, architecture (real or fantasy), space ships, nudes from art classes… Thumbs sideways.

And now for something completely different:

The How To Be a Children’s Book Illustrator  blog is offering four months of free online instruction for anyone who clicks here  — and answers the survey question they see on the screen. 

Good deal, huh? The offer is only good through June.
So click now if you’re interested.
The first lesson goes out about the end of the month.  
 

Can you find the missing pencil? Mary Sullivan paints with a wacky Wacom

Teacher in class for “Highlights for Children” by Mary Sullivan
from “Hidden Picture Playground” (“Highlights for Children” magazine)

There are a few things you should know about illustrator Mary Sullivan.

She is a yoga instructor.

She has a dog named Scout and cats named Rasta and The Cheat who often keep her company in her studio when she’s working.

She draws all the time.

She’s not driven to draw, she says. She just likes to draw.
But — and this is important — she does not much like to paint. Not with a real brush, I mean.

She does paint with the brush tool,  in Photoshop, on the computer.

That speeds things up a bit. And it’s a good thing because in recent years
her workload has grown and grown and grown  — to include hidden pictures, puzzles, stories, poems, nursery rhymes, books, covers,  cartoons and even kids’ comics — for the Highlights Magazine GroupBoyds Mills Press, Phonics Comics, School Zone Publishing, Scott Foresman Co. and other clients.  Last year she was signed up by the Kid Shannon Agency of New York, which means that her assignments won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Scene from ____________ needs description by Mary Sullivan
From “Innovative Kids”

Mary graduated with a B.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. As a child she had dreamed of being a fine-arts painter maybe one day.  But early in her college career she was told point blank that she was not a painter. She was an illustrator.

She was devastated– then relieved, because she was already starting to see that she did not care that much for applying pigment to canvases.

Many years later she brought her art-making into the world of the Apple computer, and became one of the pioneers in the digital-resistant-world of children’s story illustration.

She still draws with a pencil and paper. She uses an old fashioned light box to trace her sketches, like the children’s book illustrators of yore.  But when it comes to coloring those sketches and “completing her vision” Mary is all about the electrons.

With Photoshop CS2 and a Wacom Graphics Tablet she has forged her own, unique… —  actually it has moved beyond a style to a kind of personal grammar and syntax, her own freakin’ universe, really, that she creates with a very few software tools.

A few weeks ago she conceeded to being interviewed while she was on a white-knuckles deadline and really should not have been taking to anyone.

First here’s Mary’s artist’s mission statement from her website.

“I am excited by the ability to bring to paper any thought, dream or experience. Drawing allows me to translate emotions and experiences through my own language of line, shape and color.”

Mary Sullivan works on her initial drawing (on a cold day.)
Mary working at her home studio on a cold Texas day.

So you have classical music playing in your studio right now…

The radio. I always have something on when I’m working. The music depends on the mood.

How did you become a children’s book illustrator?

Mostly I just drew all my life. I was a studio art major. But I didn’t take commercial art in school. I’m  really a self-taught illustrator.  I had Michael Frary for life drawing. Life drawing was a big deal and painting was a big deal. It was really cliquish in the Art Department at the University of Texas back then and I didn’t fit into that whole painting scene. I took as much life drawing as I could take and lithography. I think really at heart I was an illustrator. And I think there’s a big difference between a fine artist and an illustrator.

Because I sit around and wait for people to tell me what to draw. And artists don’t do that. They have things they want to say. They had an illustration sequence at U.T. But I didn’t know it at the time. I thought I wanted to be a painter. I wanted to be in the fine arts and have the passion. But one day when I was in college I took I my best work to a collector. I must have been like 19 or 20. And he really liked my work, but he said ‘You’re an illustrator. You’re not a fine artist.’

I was absolutely crushed.

What made him say that?

Well it was my art. My art was very representational. There were some pen and inks of some women in Bali and it was all very detailed. And so he saw right away. But eventually it emerged and I accepted it.

I finished my BFA. It was really hard and it took me forever, but I did. And I had some shows. I have a pile of fine art. I still do it but I don’t have a drive to do it.

Rat outside in the rain Mary Sullivan illustration
From “Banjo”, Mary’s story about a homeless dog
You have a drive to draw.

I have a drive to cook. I don’t have a drive to do anything.  

Everytime I see you you have your sketch open and your working in it. You’re one of the few people I know who really draw in their sketchbook.

I do. And I really don’t want to have to use the computer. But you have to.

So what happened after school? 

I came home and put everything on hold and raised my kids. And of course I was inspired by them the whole time. I would draw for them. I would make them worksheets. ‘Mommy, make me a coloring page.’ ‘Make me a hidden picture.’  Even back then I did  a hidden picture — I don’t know how many years ago — 20 years ago? — pretending that I was a Highlights hidden picture artist. I still have it somewhere.

What got me to be an illustrator was I made some cards for someone once. And I ended up having my own card business. People would give me a list of everything they wanted on the card and I would draw a picture from the list. And I did that for a long time. Ten years. So that was how I got my practice. Not just doing the cards.  But getting the list from the customer and translating it into a drawing.

I got written up in a book and a magazine, about my card business.  These were birth announcement cards. I was busy. They were all hand made, hand painted. I got started in ’89 before there were any computers. I mean I had a computer but I wasn’t using it for my art. I look back and I think they’re really corny. I mean they’re really funny. I look back and I think ‘Oh my God.’ Interspersed with cards I did logos and brochures and posters for people. I was all over the place.

So then after about 2000 I decided that was it, as far as being all over the place. I knew I needed to hone in on one thing. And I decided to do children’s  illustration. So I sat down and did a bunch of self-promo pieces and mailed them off and I got a job working for Highlights. 

Right out of the chute…

Which is crazy. Yeah. Right out of…the blue.

Why did you focus on children’s art?

Well I don’t know if it had something to do with doing birth announcements all of the time. I was drawing kids all of the time. So I think that’s why I did that, probably.

I sent to Highlights, Cricket…Not that many people. I think I went to BookPeople, the book store and looked at what children’s magazines there were and sent to a couple of them. I made little cards. I drew some things. I didn’t know what I was doing really. I was just drawing stuff and I thought, ‘Wow, that looks good. I’ll send that.’

What did “Highlights” tell you?

That they liked my stuff and wanted to keep it on file. And then they called me.

How soon? Soon. It was crazy. I wasn’t even prepared. Because I was trying to make a transition to the computer but I was still drawing and painting traditionally. So my first job for them was traditional. But I scanned it in, so I was able to send them a digital file. It was an illustration for one of their stories in the magazine, Highlights for Children.

Mary Sullivan draws on a warmer day.
 Working on a slightly warmer day…

They have so many magazines I work for. I don’t so often draw for the magazine now. I have. But mostly I draw for the other magazines they have. There’s Highlights. That’s for older kids. Then there’s Hidden Pictures Playground for a little younger age. Then there’s  High Five, which is like for three year olds and four year olds. That’s their new magazine. Then they have sticker books and hidden picture books.

There are a couple of art directors that I work with. There are probably three or four at Highlights.

I was really scared. But they loved it. And I went to Highlights after that to a conference. And they were all like so happy to meet me. And I thought, ‘What is this — some kind of fantasy world?’ It was really surreal. I had just gotten into it and I didn’t know what I was doing. They were so nice. Then after that I got a book deal for Boyds Mills Press, which Highlights publishes. That’s their book division.

neighborhood.jpg
From “High Five” magazine (a “Highlights” magazine)

Book illustration is not at all what I expected. I got the job and started on it and I thought an art director was going to be saying, ‘No, this really should go here and this goes here, Move this. Do that…’ You know?  But he pretty much let me do whatever I wanted. He didn’t make any comments. I designed the cover and got to lay out where the text goes and drew everything. I did everything. And they did everything that I said to do. I did it just for fun, you know? And they said, ‘Okay.’

I had a big bowl and cut up little pieces of paper and wrote the page numbers on them. So I would reach into the bowl and whatever page number I pulled out, I would go to work on that page. Because you don’t want to draw the first page first.

Where did you hear that?

I made it up. You don’t always get into the groove of it unitl you’re into the first few drawings. You don’t want to see that progression in the book. And it’s really subtle. Some people might not notice it. But I notice it. And I would rather that first drawing was in the middle of the book. And the second drawing was maybe at the end. It works really well with me. And I always do it.

Except I forgot to do that on this book I’m working on now and I’m so mad. Because I just started with the first book out of five books I’m doing for this contract for Scott Foresman, Co.  I’m really tempted to redo the whole first book at the end of the five books. I don’t know if I will or not. I have to work so fast. You have to work so fast for these people. There are 35 illustrations in each book and I’ve had less than a month to do each one. So I’m basically doing two illustrations a day nonstop.

Highlights Magazines with Mary S. covers 

They’re due Sunday. Actually this one has turned out really cute. I had to draw cars and I hate drawing cars. But it’s not too bad. But look how complicated it is. I had to make them getting in the car and have mom getting the dog. And over here he’s telling the dog, ‘No.’ I had to get all that into the drawing.

This is what I do. I draw the sketch I scan it and send it to the publisher. So this is the sketch I sent to the publisher. They approved it. So I used my light box and traced this original pencil sketch on this nice paper.

You made another pencil drawing?

A tracing.

Why nice paper?

Because I like nice paper. I wouldn’t draw on anything else. I really like these more sketchy things — the roughs that I do first. But you must remember these pictures are for little kids and everything has to be really clear. You can’t have weird lines.


Editor’s note: Mary will scan this second, more finished pencil sketch and open it up as a file in Photoshop. With some rapid keystrokes  (involving ‘load selection’ and ‘edit fill’ on the Photoshop menu) she’ll copy and paste the lines of her sketch on to a “new layer.” She’ll  enlarges her sketch until she can almost see the carbon flecks left by her pencil point. “The lines are really sloppy but when I get them in the computer, I clean them up and erase some of them,” she says. Though she may ‘clean them up,’ she leaves her original grainy pencil lines in the illustration. She does not “fill in” her lines to create the smooth solid outline that you often see in cartoons and comic book art —  because she does not want her picture to look like it was drawn with a software program, which it wasn’t.   When she gets her drawing just the way she likes it on her monitor, she uses the Photoshop “paint bucket tool” to turn the entire layer yellow.

Oil painters like to scumble their canvases with burnt sienna, unifying their picture 
in one giant midtone — before they pick out their lights with turpentine and a rag and move in with dark paints to paint the deep shadows. This is what Mary does, but instead of turpentine and a cloth, she uses Photoshop’s ‘eraser tool’ to remove the transparent yellow glaze in strategic spots.  She erases the yellow to bring out the whites of her picture: a character’s eyes, or clouds in the sky or a button on a sweater. The revealed white is actually the white background behind her first layer.  With the stylus that comes with her Wacom Graphics Tablet and Photoshop’s “brush tool” she then applies the muted pastel colors she likes in a series of transparent ‘new layers.’ Last she adds the shadows, with the Photoshop “brush tool,” applying her “shadow color” in a 30 percent opacity. In fact she tries to avoid the the Photoshop “fill tool” generally because she wants her work to look hand-painted, so she can feel like one of those ‘fine-arts painters’ she wanted to be but was told she wasn’t and then decided she wasn’t.

Mary Sullivan Comic Book for “Phonics Comix”
Phonics Comics presents “Clara the Klutz“.  Mary uses an assortment of tricks she’s either invented or taught herself  to “paint” her pictures in Photoshop.

Except for cleaning up your lines a little when you retrace, you don’t re-work your sketches a lot.  You seem to just be able to draw out of your head.

For some reason I’m able to see things on the paper, then I’m able to draw them. I don’t know if it’s photographic memory or because I practice and draw all the time but I can just remember. I can close my eyes and see a hand positon and I can draw it.I’ve drawn all the time. I remember drawing in high school. When the teacher was talking, I’d be drawing feet and hands.I always noticed when other illustrators hid the hands or didn’t draw them too well.It does help being able to draw from my head. I can’t imagine having to look everything up. That would be a pain.

A lot of times I’ll sketch the feeling I want. Then I’ll fill in the details. Like I kind of want this person to be leaning over. I’ll kind of do it in my head, and I’ll draw a line and say, ‘Yes, that’s how I want him leaning over.’ And then I’ll fill it out. It’s like a gesture drawing. Remember that in life drawing? Yeah, I used to love that. I did a lot of it. That’s where you get the feeling of the pose.

For the BFA in college I took the maximum class number of hours in drawing. I wasn’t that good with faces and the small details. I was very good with the body.

Well, there’s something about the way you get the whole thing down and the viewer accepts it and doesn’t question your figures at all.

I feel really fortunate to have that. Editors and art directors like that. And you can tell a drawing that’s very strained.

Mary trying to draw
 Mary trying to draw

Will you talk just a little bit about the computer?

For working on the computer and color, I had to practive a lot to try to find my voice. That sounds really corny, I know, to say ‘find my voice.’  But I really had to find myself on the computer. I could do what other people did. But what was I? I mean that’s a good starting point, to look at what other people do and do that.

You know, you’re unique in your painterly working ways. 

I have a book on paintings of the old masters and one of them — I can’t remember his name — but he always started with a yellow canvas. He’d always paint yellow first over everything. I don’t know what the name of the yellow was but it was some kind of yellow or ochre and I saw that and thought, ‘Hey, I do that.’

I almost never start with a white page. I lay in the midtone and take away for the lights.

Here’s the duck. It’s going to be white. Shadows don’t come until the very end. The shoes will be white. The rocks will be grey but they won’t be white. And then I start with the color. My first layer is this color right here. Then this color comes on top of this color. It’s really complicated what I do. There turns out to be maybe ten layers of color. And at the end, the last layer I do is the shadow layer.

I tend to go with really light, muted colors, more sophisiticated colors. And they always want you to do bright…And I fight that all the way until the very end, when they will not give in. I don’t like the bright primary colors. They really bother me. But once I merge them,  all the color layers together, I ramp up the red so that it gives more of a warmth. It basically turns the black [of the pencil line] to more of a different color.

If you zoom in for a close-up to look at the line, it’s like trashy — broken and sketchy looking, but I really like that. Because that’s how it is in real life. If you were to do a painting, you wouldn’t do it pixel by pixel. I don’t want this to be clean. It looks softer like this. You can see the original pencil sketch lines and where the first transparent yellow has been left in patches.  It looks better. It doesn’t really show up that much in the picture but it gives a feeling of looking less computery.  A lot of people use the fill tool to color their illustrations. But I use the brush tool.

How did you learn to do this in Photoshop?

A friend of mine that I met, a graphic artist was so supportive and he was like a big brother.  He came over to my apartment and put Photoshop in my computer and I said, ‘I don’t know how to use it,’ and he said, ‘ You’ll figure it out.’ And I did. I went through every button on Photoshop and figured it out myself. I get everything I need from it. There’s all kinds of other stuff that I never use.

Mary Sullivan at her computer
Mary Sullivan, who doesn’t like to paint. 

Mary’s sites:
www.marysullivan.com
her artists’ blog
her agent’s site (look Mary up here)

Mark Mitchell, the writer of this article actually knows Mary Sullivan.
His site is www.markgmitchell.com