It's been such a long time since I've been able to participate in Illustration Friday. This week's topic is tranquility, and I just happened to have an illustration that fits the bill. What on earth could be more tranquil than being on calm water?
Laura's work makes me feel so cozy and warm. I feel like a small child being cuddled by Grandma when I look at her illustrations. She works in watercolor and occasionally dabbles digitally.
Patty, who works digitally, is a master at capturing body expressions. I just love her grasp of anatomy. She's equally good at painting children and adults, but I just have to say, those big diapered-bottomed toddlers she draws are adorable.
As I mentioned in my last post, Eric Rohmann was one of the speakers at the Mazza Summer Institute who inspired me the most.
He's extremely passionate about what he does, and his enthusiasm shows when he speaks about his work.
He was also very approachable. He spent time talking to everyone who had a book autographed, and he would even answer questions outside of the autograph line. Very friendly.
The three basic points that Eric made were:
Children see differently. From ages one to seven, a child's job is basically to "see" or behold the world. Something as mundane as a shopping cart is as amazing as the Grand Canyon to a small child.
Trust Children. You don't have to explain EVERYTHING to your young readers (listeners). Meet them halfway. It shouldn't be cryptic, but leave enough unsaid to make the child a participant.
Find the Essential. Picture Books are usually about one moment. Distill it all down to that one moment...the essence.
He approaches each book on an individual basis. Just as an editor or art director reads a manuscript and then chooses the best illustrator for the job, Eric does the same thing, but his talent pool is all in himself. There's no way he could have illustrated My Friend Rabbit or Pumpkinhead in the same style he's used for The Cinder-Eyed Cats or Time Flies...it just wouldn't have worked.
I love this! It's one of the reasons I wanted to get into children's illustration. Unless you're working on a series, you can approach each book with a fresh eye.
One of the things Eric said that really hit home with me was "Everything in a picture book has to serve the book." Brilliant man.
All the speakers at Mazza were FABULOUS. There were three who were absolute stand-outs in my book though, Eric Rohmann, Clare Beaton, and Deborah Kogan Ray (see books below).
Why these three?
Because they are absolutely passionate about what they do.
Eric is passionate about creating and designing his picture books. Clare is passionate about her materials and her process. Deborah is passionate about her subjects.
After hearing Eric Rohmann speak, Patty and I went back to our hotel and deconstructed My Friend Rabbit. There is not an inch of this book that Eric hasn't totally thought out and designed. Every page moves the story forward. Every page is absolutely essential. He uses composition, form, line, and even the shape of the book itself to pace the story. Passionate I tell you.
Clare Beaton works in felt, fabric and embellishments. She is addicted to her materials. No kidding, she left the conference at least twice to go to thrift stores and bead shops to collect more. While so many of the illustrators I meet are seeking ways to speed up their process, Clare is so excited about what she does that she's currently learning more about embroidery and stitches that will, in all likelihood, slow her process down even more. True passion.
Deborah Kogan Ray writes and illustrates biographies. She totally immerses herself in her topics. She says she "becomes" the person she's writing about. She researches everything she can find about their lives, their environment, their stories, their families, etc. When she's talking about one of her subjects, her whole being lights up and becomes animated. I was so inspired by her passion.
I want to dive into my work so deeply that I too become this passionate about what I do. I want to build an enthusiasm that is as contagious as was theirs.
The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. -- Alfred Lord Tennyson