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How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator

Mark Mitchell's blog on children's book illustration and illustrators

‘Pictures worth a thousand words’

When Wearing Red

"Little Red" by Gustave Dore

Engraving (left) by Gustave Dore. We’ve talked here recently about ‘pushing darks’ and ‘heading into the darks.’ Referring to dark values — those lower depths of the gray scale so essential in painting and graphic composition. Essential in storytelling, too, yes? I enjoyed seeing the Disney version of Into the Woods. I think the movie did its job as a… Read More

‘Illustrating’ with watercolor

Watercolor portrait by Hangel Montero

Illustrating with watercolor requires deliberate thinking about the pattern of darks in the overall composition. Darks are the most interesting part of a painting’s value pattern (light, midtone and dark configuration.) In recent weeks we’ve been on the subject of ‘pushing the darks’ — especially in watercolor. I can’t let the topic pass without sharing… Read More

Painting old buildings

Illustrator James Gurney at work

  Oh, my.  Yes, painting old buildings in watercolor not latex. You’ll want to see illustrator and fine-arts painter James Gurney dash off a plein air urbanscape — before the time’s up on his parking meter. Former National Geographic illustrator of archeological/historical subjects, author-illustrator of books for children and adults and an exquisite, if occasionally quirky teacher of drawing… Read More

Minimally drawn Miffy

Miffy

Hey Miffy you’re so fine. You’re so fine you blow my mind — hey Miffy! Or Nijntje, as this children’s book character by illustrator author Dick Bruna is known in Holland and much of Europe. She’s a girl who wears lightly the distinction of being, at least according to the London Telegraph the most popular rabbit in the world. There’s not a… Read More

Celebrating children’s picture books!

Peter McCarty's Henry in Love

  Below, a sweet picture book trailer by author-illustrator Peter McCarty for his incomparable Chloe (HarperCollins Childrens).   You can see art samples from the winners of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books Awards for 2014 here and enjoy best-selling picture book author Chris Barton’s post about why children’s picture books are important here. Picture Book Month is an international literacy… Read More

Terrible in pink?

T is for Terrible

  A Terrible Lizard’s soliloquy moves us to empathy, or maybe not in the gorgeously tactile T is for Terrible (Macmillan)– a 2005 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year by Peter McCarty. Children’s novelist Julie Lake (Galveston’s Summer of the Storm) walks us through the Paleozoic pastel pages, while I handle the not-so-steadicam. We recorded after hours in  Julie’s primary school library that… Read More

“Speak the language.” Children’s book illustrator E.B. Lewis shares his emotional work and words

Watercolor art by E.B. Lewis

“Art is a language,” Children’s book illustrator E.B. Lewis told a roomful of illustrators, aspiring and professional. “Speak the language.” What is a language, Lewis asked. “In spoken language, it’s the letters of the alphabet that join together to form words, then paragraphs. And finally stories and jokes,” he answered his own question. The mark of… Read More

Then let us all with one accord…

Stepping away from the news and business this evening, I poked around on YouTube for a nice Christmas video to share with you. For some reason I started wondering if Sitka, Alaska, where I’d spent 2-3 of my childhood years still celebrates Christmas. I remember how Christmases there would light up the dark Alaskan winter.… Read More

World touring sketchbooks

Wilie Lisa

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… Read More