How long have you been creating art for children?
Professionally, for almost 19 years, but I've been drawing since I was a little kid.
How long have you been writing for children?
As with the art, I've been writing in one form or another my whole life. (There are many angsty pre-teen journals in my cupboard!) I started writing seriously for children after my illustration work started to take off, at the suggestion of an editor who was interested in my work.
I began my illustration career by creating illustrated maps for various publications. My first book came about through an editor who admired my map art, and suggested I try writing stories. We went back and forth for about a year on an idea that was ultimately rejected, but in the meantime I'd also been working on a book about a very old house and the changes it had seen over time. That became my first book, When I Was Built.
Here's a picture of some of the final art for my most recent book, Maggie & Oliver, or A Bone of One's Own, hanging in my studio. It took up most of the wall space. (Don't judge the mess on the flat file!):
And here's the book!:
I work in pencil and watercolor, and pen & ink with watercolor for my maps. For illustrations, I try to picture the overall look in my head, while making lots of thumbnail drawings. Thumbnails are one of my favorite stages of a project, because there are so many puzzles to work out, and so many possibilities. Once the ideas have been narrowed down it's a matter of enlarging the sketches and refining them, and then doing the final art. I'm not sure how to describe my own work… I'm probably too close to it to have perspective!
Here's the beginning of a sketch. My thumbnails are usually much messier!
Transferred to watercolor paper, with the first layer of pencil:
And beginning to lay in the color here:
And the final piece:
I did a series about creating this piece on my blog, if you'd like to read about it in more depth:
Which comes first the story of the illustrations/sculptures?
It depends on the idea. For me, stories arrive in all different ways– from a doodle, a phrase, or a word, or an image that pop into my head. After the initial inspiration comes the work of figuring out what the story is actually about. I like to bounce back and forth between the words and the pictures as the story takes shape.
Jennifer can be found at:
Anything else you would like to add about your art, your writing, or your road to publication?Website: http://www.jenniferthermes.com/Twitter: @jenthermesFacebook Fan page: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferThermesIllustration
I'd just say– find the thing that brings you joy about writing or drawing, and treasure it. Have fun with your art. Take pleasure in the process!
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