How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator

Mark Mitchell's blog on children's book illustration, artists and art instruction

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‘Charging’ up your watercolor

John Salmon demo watercolor

Why do we always seem to paint so lightly with watercolor? Why do our paintings tend to miss that dependable artist’s ‘best friend’, a dark passage? The omission rarely occurs for artists and illustrators working in oil, acrylics or digitally. It’s easy to brush on black or a thick dark color straight from the tube, jar or digital bucket. But with watercolor… 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


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

“A marvelous way to tell a difficult story”

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

The upcoming Austin SCBWI Graphic Novel Workshop on Saturday, October 5 promises to be a day for writers and illustrators, writer-illustrators and anyone interested in exciting alternative literary forms for children, teens and young adults. OK, plenty of adults read them, too. Webcomics creator, animator, digital content creator and our SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book… Read More

An amazing way to learn illustration

Mark Mitchell

So what is musician-performer-dancer-composer Lindsey Stirling doing on this blog about children’s book illustration? She’s an artist but she works in a different medium. She hasn’t published a children’s picture book. (Not yet, anyway, but give her time.) I’m sharing this video of her 2011 tune Shadows, because forty-five million YouTube views prove a point I’m about… 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

Catching Willie Mays (in a children’s book illustration)

Terry Widener

How perfect that award-winning children’s book artist Terry Widener has done the pictures for the new picture book by Jonah Winter (just released by Schwartz and Wade) about the greatest all around baseball player ever — Willie Mays. Terry brings a background of high level advertising and editorial illustration and something else to the many… Read More