Author: Mark Mitchell

Poster paint to set the scenes

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, perhaps as Ghibli Studio art director: Creating the backgrounds for Asao Takahata’s ‘animated drama’ (as Wikipedia describes it) Only Yesterday. The 1991 movie was based on on a children’s manga series by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone. Director Takahata, whose college major was French literature turned this child’s comic into more of...

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Backgrounds to transport you

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 a rough idea of the colors he’ll use for this nature vista that he’ll paint from his pencil sketch. Of course Oga’s notions of color are supported by a lifetime of painting natural settings for animations — perhaps most famously for the Hayao Miyazake movie My Neighbor...

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Takahata’s Transcendent Fairy Tale

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 it in 2013. I’ll call it a fairy — instead of a folk — tale since it tells of unearthly beings and dimensions: A moon sprite (let’s call her) is found by a kindly elderly couple. They take her in. We watch her grow swiftly from...

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A robust new world of illustrated children’s nonfiction?

“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 book The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and Don Tate (Eerdmans Publishing.) Another Eerdmans title, The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet and the 2014 Caldecott Medal winning Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca (Atheneum Books...

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Picture books on the library conference floor

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 below.) Publishers consider the Bluebonnet one of the major children’s book awards. That’s because the Lone Star state embraces more school districts than any other (1,262 compared with California’s 1,187 in 2012.) Every year, 20 titles selected by Texas school librarians comprise the Bluebonnet Master List  —...

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A Drawing Secret

Yes, please! I want to know the "crazy best" drawing secret!

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Video art lessons!

Richard Robinson Painting Instruction

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