A few years ago I talked with children’s book illustrator and friend Patty Barton in my classroom at The Contemporary Austin Art School about her illustration process. I’d recently bought my first ‘pocket camcorder’, a Kodak zi8, had never shot much digital video before and it certainly shows. The lens moves a lot. People still complain about it on YouTube. Toward the end of the clip, you can hear students arriving for class and moving their art tables across the floor.  Yet in our impromptu interview, over the room’s noise and mild confusion, Patty did a super job of show-and-telling her art-making process.

She gave the camera a ‘picture walk’ of a couple of her latest picture books. The second of these was Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine written by Knopf editor Allison Wortche.

I put some clips from our recording into a blog post that you can visit here. The post also shows the trailer for the book, Mine! by Shutta Crum (Penguin Random House.) Additionally, you’ll find a clip from our interview where Patty talks about creating the toddler characters for Shutta’s story.

Patty is offering an online class on January 30 on Bringing Your Child Figures to Life.

In the above video, she sums up what she feels is her most important illustration secret. She offers a simple sketch prompt for you. You can use this to enliven any art project or whatever portfolio build-out you’re doing now.

The class is part of a new workshop series, Drawing Children for Children’s Book Illustrations we’re doing at Marks & Splashes. 

Registration gives you access to the replays of the series’ previous workshops in (with Cindy Wider and Shirley Ng-Benitez) and upcoming live sessions with illustrators Tracy Nishimura Bishop (February), children’s book agent Christy Tugeau Ewers (March) and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal (April).

We’ll do a semester debrief and after-party with me in May when we compare notes and show off our revisions.

Register for the series replays


Art by Patrice Barton, for

Art by Patrice Barton, for I Pledge Allegiance by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez


Patty received a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWI) for her work on that title. Her illustration art has been exhibited in the Society of Illustrators National Show in New York City.

She’s been illustrating professionally since graduating with a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Some of her recent picture books are The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and I Pledge Allegiance, by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez, both published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, and The Year of the Baby by Andrea Cheng, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. You can see more of her books here.