Thanks to Lauren Eldridge for tagging me in this blog tour. Her seamless blend of cinematography, 3-D sculpture, photography and drawing is so fresh and original that you cannot help but be drawn into the worlds she literally shapes, presses and pinches together with her fingers. Check out her amazing portfolio and you’ll see what I mean.
So, let’s get to it. Four Questions.
1. What am I currently working on?
First and foremost, I just signed a three book deal with Greenwillow HarperCollins to illustrate a new early middle grade series, called Backyard Witch, by Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge. This includes a full color cover for each book (hardbound) and 60-70 black and white interior drawings per book. The first one is set to come out June 2015 and is full of things I LOVE to draw: nature, birds, girls, friendship, cats and magic (among other things).
I do like to work on multiple things at once. I am almost always generating ideas for new stories/images/series/etc, while working on something else. I have several projects that I have written and illustrated including picture books and a middle grade series, all of which are at various stages of creation and submission. See a selection above of various work in a variety of stages to give you a visual snapshot of what I’m working on right now… from more rough character designs to more finished pieces.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write and illustrate quiet stories. I want my writing and illustration (and the combination there-in) to feel large and small all at once. I love line work and using white space with minimal color palettes. I also love to work exclusively in black and white. Using figurative language and lyric and subtle word play in minimal and imaginative ways I try to create context or a generate feeling. For stories that I write, I shape a world between my words and images that has room for whimsy and humor but also sometimes darknesses and being scared. I want the reader to feel enveloped in a space that they can see smell touch hear and taste in the sound and meaning of one word or the enjambment between one line and the next. Because small things like that are important to me.
3. Why do I write what I write?
I’ve loved working with words and images since I was six or seven. I am helplessly in love with both. I have a BFA in drawing, and an MFA in poetry. A whole story is told in the writing alone, and there is a whole story told in the images, and THEN… there is this whole other wilderness of a story told in the space between them both, that wouldn’t exist, one without the other. I want to live in that wilderness. I want to explore it every moment of the day, whether I’m writing, drawing, or picking out grapefruits at the grocery. There is mystery and inspiration and an insatiable desire in me to seek, discover and unfold this third layer of storytelling.
4. How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
As an illustrator and writer, I approach both from many angles of entry, but often the heart of my work begins in an idea or a drawing. I incorporate time to daydream into my process. It’s where my most serious work is done. It is where I give myself a chance to wander and bump into things I don’t expect.
Technically, my illustration process starts on paper. I like to sketch loose drawings with Prismacolor markers onto newsprint. This helps me find an energy or essence I’m looking for and keeps me from being too detail oriented at first (which I have to fight because it often can strangle my process too early when trying to develop a character or concept).
I then hang the newsprint drawings up on the wall around my drawing table. I take my mechanical pencil with very thin 0.3mm H lead and render a character or scene onto 11″ x 14″ paper. From there I ink everything in with a dip ink pen and Black Cat india ink. After the literal ink dries (this takes about 10-15 minutes), I scan those drawings into Photoshop and clean them up. I then work in layers to build color and texture with my own scanned images of watercolors, gouache, wood block cuts, ink washes, lines and dots, etc.
My process as a writer starts with an idea or an image, and then I move to finding a story’s structure and pacing. First: I create broad strokes, main movements, and then I break those down into page turns (especially for picture books). I also naturally think and write in art notes, especially since many of the picture books I write have 250 words or less. Since I’m the illustrator and can imagine what I want to draw as I write, I like to let the images do a lot of heavy lifting.
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Thank you so much for tuning in! My little fork in this road of the blog tour ends here.
Thanks again, Lauren Eldridge!
And also big thanks to Fred Koehler who started it all.