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How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator

Mark Mitchell's blog on children's book illustration, illustrators and 'fine art' fun

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Sneak a peek at guest group critiques!

Sketch for Guest Group Critiques (May 24 session by Shannon Sanders

(Sketch by Shannon Sanders for May 24 Guest Group Critiques.) If you’ve ever taken a drawing or painting class, you’ve probably experienced some group critiques, when everyone puts their work up, the instructor talks and everyone just looks. I’ve always considered these to be the most fun and second most valuable (after ‘doing’ the art) – part of the art classes I’ve taken… Read More

Funny bunnies – an artist’s perspective

3-23-2016 2-52-25 PM

Oh my gosh. It rhymes and shows bunny children with only half their clothes on sometimes. Despite such notorious picture book no-no’s, I think you’ll quickly bond with this furry rodent family and their quaint fixer-upper on the river’s edge. Children’s novelist Julie Lake (Galveston: Summer of the Storm, Texas Christian University Press) and I take a ‘picture walk’ through… Read More

Children’s Illustration: Completely Different

Caldecott Honor children's illustration by Denise Fleming

In last month’s marvelous Group Critique of children’s illustration by Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Denise Fleming and the popular writing teacher Jodell Sadler, we heard something – I can’t think of a better adjective for it now – disruptive. As she relaxed toward the end of the generous two-plus hour critique, Denise talked about the joy and the imperative, really of learning… Read More

Watercolor winter and inked lines that say Christmas

Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

In 2002 a special picture book came out with exquisite Yuletide reminiscence by Newbery Medal author Cynthia Rylant and unforgettable watercolor and line art by Caldecott Honor illustrator Diane Goode. Author Julie Lake and I wanted to explore its pages with you on this Christmas Day, 2015! The book is Christmas in the Country (Scholastic) and you’ll want to have… Read More

Poster paint to set the scenes

Oga resized

I can’t get over these anime background artists with their battered brushes and messy jars of cheap paint. It’s fascinating to hear them talk and watch them at work. It’s children’s book illustration taken to the nth power. The below video delves deeper than we looked last time into the subject of anime backgrounds. It rests finally on Kazuo Oga’s most intense challenge,… Read More

Backgrounds to transport you

Ghibli Backgrounds by Kazuo Oga

Kazua Oga’s hand-painted backgrounds contribute hugely to the impact of The Tale of Princess Kaguya, as they have to all of the animated films he’s art directed. Illustrator Mariya Prytula steered me to this video,  At the Master’s Workshop.  We watches over his shoulder as the 62 year old Oga completes a scene, Paulowia Rain.  He ruminates a little on his process and how he starts with only… Read More

Takahata’s Transcendent Fairy Tale

From the Tale of Princess Kaguya

Based on a 1,000 year old fairy tale, The Tale of Princess Kaguya breaks your heart as it inspires you to love your life. The (originally called) Tale of the Bamboo Cutter has been the source of a number of different literary and media treatments in Japan. Ghibli Studio co-founder Isao Takahata took eight years to direct this animated feature version, completing… Read More

A robust new world of illustrated children’s nonfiction?

Lionel Bender, editor

“A nonfiction writer is a storyteller who has sworn an oath to tell the truth.” A great quote from Newbery Award winning children’s nonfiction author Russell Freedman.  Of course nonfiction has a very special place in literature and school libraries. It’s the bedrock of publishing. Last week’s post held up an effective example, the biographical picture… Read More

Picture books on the library conference floor

Art by Don Tate for "The Amazing Times of John Roy Lynch"

The hilarious picture book The Day The Crayons Quit, (Philomel) by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (mostly, he says, with his left hand) trounced the competition for this year’s Texas Bluebonnet Award.  (The image on the left is by illustrator Don Tate for another book, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton that you’ll see more about… Read More

The real Dr. Seuss

Green eggs and ham by Dr. Seuss

Yesterday elementary schools across the country pounced upon the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day and its patron saint, The Cat in the Hat — I mean, Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel. Three things you might not know about Geisel, whose March 2 birthdate the NEA commandeers evey year for its celebration of young readers and reading ed awareness: There really… Read More

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