How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator

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

‘Pictures worth a thousand words’

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


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

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

How to build a robot in Quark

Children’s book author-illustrator Annette Simon works hard to make her picture books playful. Or, maybe more accurately, she plays hard to make her picture books work.   Her Robot Zombie Frankenstein! (Candlewick Press) delivers an exhilarating,  escalating battle of wits, creativity, costumery and dessert in 72 words. The bright pictures suggest Colorforms — the plastic stick-ons found in kindergarten toy boxes — but they’re… Read More