Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Picture Book - One Day I Went Rambling

Terri Murphy, illustrator for One Day I Went Rambling, stopped by my blog and answered a few questions about illustrating and publishing a picture book for a traditional press (Bright Sky Press).

Terri is the SCBWI-IL Illustrators Network Coordinator and one of the first professional illustrators that I met in the writing and illustrating for children world.

Her latest book, One Day I Went Rambling (see below) is about a little boy who sees the creative potential of everyday odds and ends he finds. His friends don't see it but slowly they come around and join in the fun.

Terri,congratulations on your new book release. Can you tell us a little about the process of how this book came to be? 

Thank you, Alison. I was lucky to have illustrated a picture book with Kelly Bennett previously with the same publisher, Bright Sky Press, so when they acquired the One Day I Went Rambling manuscript, Kelly requested me as the illustrator. Happily history repeated itself.

Did you get to meet or speak with the author during the illustrating process? 

Although Kelly and I know each other and have met before, we don't communicate during the illustrative process. It's not that I'm opposed to it, but there is a certain implied trust if you allow an illustrator to have free reign. If I had a question or was unclear about what she was trying to communicate, I would call her, but such was not the case. The publisher did show the sketches to Kelly before I went to finished art, and in addition to ooohs and aaahs, she suggested I include Zane's mascot, a color-changing chameleon, on every page in a hide-and-seek way. I had the chameleon on most pages, but all pages was definitely a good call!

How much time did you spend on the illustrations from sketches to final? Can you explain a little about the back and forth process of the book coming together? Were you given illustrator notes at the beginning or did you have more freedom to create?

I was given one illustration note, a suggestion really, that the "smooth brown vest" Zane finds could be a grocery sack. And so it was! It took about 5 months to complete, from receiving the manuscript, to creating sketches, to final art sent to the publisher. The interesting thing about working out a visual story line is that ideas come throughout the process. Everything is not clear-cut in my mind from the beginning, but more of an ebb and flow of possibilities. Whenever I go on school visits, I tell children the two most powerful words in creating something is "what if." Some of the "what ifs" I went with are "What If I hand-letter all of Zane's imaginative pronouncements and use them as a design element? What if I give him a mascot? What if I box all the friends' unimaginative reactions to his treasures and drain the color?"

Here is a look at a sketch and color illustration from One Day I Went Rambling.
Thanks for sharing these, Terri!

Now that we have heard a bit about your exciting new book, can you share a bit about your other books?

I've illustrated several books, but the one I mentioned above authored by Kelly Bennett, "Dance, Y'all, Dance," is a peek into a yesteryear romp-and-stomp dance hall that twirls the reader through several country dance steps and family-fun situations.  Kelly writes about themes that resonate with me as an illustrator, and I await to see if that muse strikes a third book in our future!

Thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog and share a little about the process of illustrating and publishing a picture book.

Head on over to her BLOG to enter to win a signed original illustration of the chameleon from the dedication page, a color changing cameleon, or a signed copy of the book!

Terri Murphy can also be found at her website 
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Author/Illustrator - Jennifer Thermes

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.

Can you share a bit about your publishing journey?

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.

Where do you do your artwork? Would you describe your space?

I have a studio at home. (I love calling it a "studio!") In reality it's a small room crammed full of two drawing tables (one for standing and one for sitting), my computer, bookshelves– with sketches, art, and random inspiring stuff taped to the walls. Usually there's a cat (or two) and the dog hanging around, as well. I'm a big fan of cozy clutter.

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!:

Please tell us about your illustrations. Can you describe your creative process for us? How would you describe your style?
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!
Final sketch:

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:
Twitter: @jenthermes

Anything else you would like to add about your art, your writing, or your road to publication?

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!

Please leave comments and questions for
Jennifer Thermes
in the comment section below.

Come back every Wednesday all summer to see the
Featured Author/Illustrator of the Week!