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Interviews, Biblio File, Design by the Book

My Library: Children's Book Illustrators


The Children's Book Ilustrators Group (CBIG) presented us with an interesting project—we would choose a favorite children's book and they would create an illustration inspired by that book!  Rebecca, the Children's Librarian at Jefferson Market, chose The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame and The Magic City by E. Nesbit.  The resulting work is on display in the library.  Here is an interview with some of the illustrators—on their process, their favorite books and writers and their visit to Jefferson Market Libray!

What inspired you about the book you chose to illustrate?

MARILYN PAPAS: I chose The Reluctant Dragon because I laughed out loud, and it was so visual. The author, Kenneth Grahame, really developed his characters well and injected humor throughout this age old story of St. George and the Dragon. It has a fun and triumphant ending proving anyone can be friends.
MAXINE LU: I chose The Magic City because my 9 year old daughter and I love to listen to CDs of stories by the author, E. Nesbit, on our long road trips. Her writing, from the early 1900s, is still fresh today. It contains an understanding of children and the humor of children unlike others. She was an amazing writer, influencing C.S Lewis and J.K. Rowling. She combined real world settings with magical adventures which had not been done before.
LAURA GOETZ: I chose The Reluctant Dragon. The unusual friendly character of a dragon, who didn’t like to fight, was what inspired me. The dragon reminded me of my big bloodhound Sam, who has a frightening bark, but is as friendly as can be. 
LEEZA HERNANDEZ: Being from England, The Reluctant Dragon reminds me of where I grew up which was quite rural. I love dragons, too and I wanted to explore textural ways to create a dragon with my illustrative stylewhich I hadn't done before. This was the perfect opportunity for me to do that. 
DONNA MISKEND: The Magic City is all about imagination and creativity. It’s a very visual story, with a lot of possibilities for illustrations. Phillip creates cities from objects he finds around his house. And he reads books on all different subjects that either influence the cities he builds or the people and animals come alive to inhabit them. It’s a wonderful story!
JENNIFER MERZ: I have always loved The Reluctant Dragon ever since I was a child.  I have always been inspired by the Dragon's independent spirit and reluctance to fight, and the boy's courage to jump in and solve a difficult situation!
DIANA TING DELOSH: I chose The Reluctant Dragon because I loved the character of a gentle, poet dragon, who just wanted to spend his days peacefully, dreaming and creating new poems. I also enjoyed the author, Kenneth Grahame's tongue in cheek tone and humor that makes this story both timeless and relevant.
Tell me about your illustration process.
DONNA MISKEND: First I sketch out the individual pieces. Here I used the candlesticks, vases, and other objects I have in the house, just like Philip in the story. I have a file of reference material from newspapers and magazines and used my own photos of people in costumes. I often scan my sketches into the computer, adjust the size and then use the print out as a workable sketch. In this illustration there is a border, so I arranged the sketches under tracing paper and cleaned up the outlines. Then I transferred the entire drawing from the tracing paper to watercolor paper. I used a sepia brown colored wash for the base, and built up the colors using watercolor paint. I also used colored pencils for some of the detail.

JENNIFER MERZ: I use brown paper bags (yes, the kind from the supermarket!) to roughly 'sketch' my pictures first.  This process gets me in tuned with all the tactile supplies that I use for my finished collage illustrations.

LAURA GOETZ: My illustration process varies depending on the project, but I begin with a pencil drawing.  I develop the sketch using tracing paper that you can see through, so I can retrace and move, add or take out elements in the picture.  Sometimes, I do a small color rough. Then I transfer my final tracing on to watercolor paper and paint the final art.  I often base my characters on people or animals I know.
DIANA TING DELOSH: I use ink and watercolor paints. My process is very basic: read/review the story or illustration specs, ruminate, research, doodle thumbnails, sketch and sketch on tracing paper until it looks right, transfer onto watercolor paper, ink, plan the color and paint. First I put in all my shadows using either a blue-black or sepia color. Then I start with the thing I'm most nervous about painting or sometimes I just start from the item on the bottom left. I'm right handed so I work from left to right so as not to smudge my art. I use a hairdryer to help dry areas if I'm in a rush. Backgrounds are usually painted in last.
CLAUDIA CARLSON: I draw on paper, scan the pencil drawing into my computer and use a wacom tablet with digital pen in photoshop.
LEEZA HERNANDEZ: It's completely experimental. I look for ways to fuse line, texture and color in interesting and engaging ways. I will work with pencil, paints (mostly acrylic), paper, collage, and printing inks but I’m happy to use photos, used packaging and fabrics if I think it will work in the piece somehow. It's different every time I work on an illustration and that's why I love it so much.
MARILYN PAPAS: I followed my best rough sketch as a guide. For this illustration I used photos and old wood cuts from reference such as magazines and Google images. I invented the dragon based on a seahorse which shows in it's face and snout.

CLARE PERNICE: I go to the library and get out research material. I got out many books on dragons and learned that there are all different types. I sketch and make notes and compile a list of characteristics that will help with the drawing. Once I come up with the character in pencil I then test out some colors. Then I draw him on quality paper. My finished dragon is in shades of aqua pastel. 
MAXINE LU: My illustration process starts with a pencil drawing. I scan the pencil drawing into the computer, cleaning it up with an eraser tool in Photoshop. Then I add color in the computer. I print out the final piece.
What other books/authors inspire you?  
CLARE PERNICE: All the books written by my favorite author Roald Dahl because he writes characters so vividly and his stories really get your imagination going!
DIANA TING DELOSH: I'm a fan of E. B. White, Margaret Wise Brown, Tolkien, Donna Jo Napoli, William Steig, Robert Quackenbush, Maurice Sendak, Cynthia Rylant, Jane Yolen and too many others. I love mysteries, adventures and fairy talesboth classic and new.
JENNIFER MERZ: A. A. Milne, E. B. White, Lewis Carroll—stories that create wonderful imaginary worlds are my favorites!
DONNA MISKEND: Tolkien is a favorite author, he even created an Elvin language for his characters. I also love international fairytales. Often they are the same stories but told through the eyes of different cultures.
LAURA GOETZ: Too many to list, but my favorite book is the classic, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  The author wrote a dream like adventure story, with fun text. His mysterious and make believe characters illustrate his creative imagination.
CLAUDIA CARLSON: Diana Wynne Jones is my favorite fantasy writer. Sean Tan my favorite writer/illustrator. I love the illustrations of Paul Zelinsky, Adam Rex, and Posy Simmonds. Of course I love Rackham and Dulac's fairy tale illustrations from a hundred years ago. The pen and ink drawings of Garth Williams are magical even when they show ordinary things, such as a pig and a spider who are friends.
Note:  check the NYPL catalog for holdings on the above authors and illustrators.
If this is your first time at the Jefferson Market Library, what have you discovered?
CLARE PERNICE: This is my first time at this wonderful library. It has a fantastic children's room with it's own theatre for performances.
DONNA MISKEND: I’ve been here quite a few times, it has a good selection of children’s books for all age groups. I love the architecture. With the spiral staircase, stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings, it’s very castle-like.  Perfect to get you in the mood for both these stories.
LEEZA HERNANDEZ: The Jefferson Market Library is such a beautiful building. One could spend hours in there just looking at the architecture. I was amazed at the amount of books in the children's room, too. It's a fantastic place to absorb oneself in books.
MAXINE LU: I now live near the Jefferson Market Library. I am so honored to have an illustration showing here. I have learned that the Jefferson Market Library is incredibly involved in the neighborhood history and mysteries. I love the children's department at the Jefferson Market Library. I have discovered that I can have a small part in this wonderfully rich neighborhood.
Thank you all so much for a wonderful show!
(All work protected by copyright and may not be used without permission.)


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