Tag Archives: Allen Say

Double-triple-quadruple happiness, and more….

It’s a double blessing to encounter Ed Young‘s childhood memoir, The House Baba Built (see my earlier article here); and to follow up with Allen Say‘s memoir of growing up with his mentor, in Drawing from Memory (illustrated below), when selections from both books are also in The Original Art Show.

In his feature in the N.Y. Times Book Review, Terry Hong writes:

“… Both books describe how family can guide artists in their early years. In Say’s case, it was a chosen family;  for Young, the extended family into which he was born …”

From Allen Say's "Drawing from Memory" (click to enlarge)

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Medium: Watercolor, pen, ink,pencil and photography
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Imprint: Scholastic Press
Art Director: David Saylor
Editor: Andrea Davis Pinkney

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An interview with Allen Say
A list of Allan Say books
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Illustration by Nancy Carpenter (below) from Imogene’s Last Stand

When artist Nancy Carpenter was asked what she did for relaxation, she replied “Fix lamps and rearrange my furniture.”

This aptly describes the spunky exuberance of her visual story-telling, coupled with superb draftsmanship, plus an innate knowledge of how a child’s mind operates.

I asked her to share highlights with us from her Original Art Show selection, 11 Experiments That Failed, and she sent the following images, alongside her comments.

figure 1 (click to enlarge)

Nancy Carpenter:  This is a close up of the opening experiment, (figure 1, left) “Hypothesis:  Ketchup and snow are the only food groups a kid needs.”

The protagonist here starts out with the exuberant confidence she displayed in 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to do Anymore  (Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter‘s previous book together).

figure 2 (click to enlarge)

The experiment is having some effects on her and her brother after what could be several days of the snow and ketchup diet (figure 2, right).

Here’s another experiment, called “What makes fungus grow” (figure 3, below).

figure 3 (click to enlarge)

NC:  This experiment, called “Can a washing machine wash dishes?” (figure 4, below), is very close to one I have tried (and failed at) — Can the dishwasher wash my socks?

JC:  I must confess I’ve tried that experiment too. Once…

figure 4 (click to enlarge)

Joy Chu: These pieces are so delightful and full of life. Every detail tells its own story! Do you create a foundation of sketches; that is, clean up & add ink; make scans first; then add layer upon layer via Photoshop? How’s that for a multi-layered question?

NC: I do my drawing in india ink on bristol board.  I typically draw freehand with my sketch as my reference. I like the unexpected mistakes drawing with permanent ink creates. It makes the lines more lively and spontaneous. The downside is that I often need to do dozens of drawings to get one that looks like I just sat down and quickly drew it.

I then scan the black lines and add colors with layers of collage, or layers of paint swatches with Photoshop. If you look carefully, sometimes you can see the strokes from one layer going in one direction and then another thin color layer going in another direction.

I haven’t used real paint in quite a few years. This approach is far less toxic or messy. I do, however, miss having a finished painted piece.

JC: Which one of these is the piece that’s hanging in the Original Art Show?

NC: The piece I used in the Original Art Show is the washing machine washing dishes. I felt, among all the art, it conveys the essence of the character as well as the idea of that particular experiment, without needing words.

JC: You provided a print-out, then. Who took care of the framing?

NC: I had it framed myself, with a black frame and later painted the frame a Pepto-Bismol®pink. I thought [the effect] was more light-hearted and fun.

I enjoyed your link [on the public Got Story Facebook page] to a blog article by Will Terry — Get Over ItYou’re Just Another Artist!   My sentiments exactly. At first I started out determined to win awards and be on top. Now, years later, I’m just happy to be able to do this full time, and continue to get work.

I go to the Original Art Show to see if anyone is worse than I am and still allowed to hang a piece of art. It makes me feel momentarily above average.

JC:  I can think of no one else who does smart and spunky, naughty yet charming, little girls better, nor more colorfully, than you do. Thank you for sharing your process with us.

Click here for a list of books illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Illustrations and cover from 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to do Anymore (above right), the prequel to 11 Experiments That Failed (below)

Medium: Pen and ink with digital
Publisher: Random House/ Schwartz & Wade
Art Directors: Lee Wade and Rachael Cole
Editor: Anne Schwartz

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While Carter Goodrich‘s dogs, Zorro and Mr. Bud (right), won a place as a selection (and in the official Society of Illustrator’s catalog), circumstances prevented getting an original piece from Say Hello to Zorro!  on display at the show itself.

However, Carter Goodrich writes:

“I’m so happy to hear that your students like Zorro! Please tell them book number two, Zorro Gets an Outfit will be out in May.”

 

Check out Carter Goodrich‘s website, which includes his animation work and studies for many familiar Pixar characters.

Medium: Watercolor
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Art Director: Dan Potash
Editor: Justin Chanda
Author: Carter Goodrich

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We switch gears to an art style that’s soft-with-panache, via selections from two books — I Had a Favorite Dress, and Just Being Audrey, both illustrated by Julia Denos.

from "I Had a Favorite Dress" (click to enlarge)

Julia’s exquisite line work, design sense, and spare application of color displays the influence of her affiliations with advertising for luxury living spaces, alongside fashion-themed flair.

"I Had a Favorite Dress" (click to enlarge)

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Some behind-the-scenes commentary from Julia herself:

“…Boni Ashburn wrote a lovely story with a very fun cadence to it. Right from the get-go, it made me feeling like dancing;  I wanted the text to dance, and I wanted the art to dance…(I’m not gonna lie, I had a sweet summer soundtrack consisting of Animal Collective /jazz blasting, so I did a lot of dancing around).  Boni’s words, “SNIP SNIP, SEW SEW” helped me feel playful enough to want to cut up, collage, get messy…”

“…I spent my weeks in a blissful world of little dresses, buttons, city scapes, and thread……”

“…A very SERIOUS struggle to find the right pink…”

“…[art director] Chad Beckerman helped turn these thumbnails into something that made sense…”

“…[here's the] cover sketch on the light box…”

Medium: Watercolor, colored pencil on hot press paper
Publisher: Abrams/ Abrams Books for Young Readers
Art Director: Chad W. Beckerman
Editor: Maggie Lehrman
Author: Boni Ashburn

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Earlier in her blog, Julia walks us through her creation process for Margaret Cardillo’s picture book biography about Audrey Hepburn, Just Being Audrey:

“…While working on the book for Audrey, I’ve been lucky enough to get to research her dreamy era for cues on dresses, buildings, streetcars, hats and important places like the old Fulton Theater in New York … As an added bonus in making biographical art, I feel I have made a dear new friend. Audrey did not have an easy life by any means, but seemed to glean joy from most any circumstance (which is not always easy!) making her luminous…”

“…Here’s a peek at some of my desktop reference I was looking at as I finished painting the interior art … Dreamy reference, right?…”

from "Just Being Audrey" (click to enlarge)

Medium: Watercolor, colored pencil on hot press paper
Publisher: HarperCollins /Balzer + Bray
Art Directors: Carla Weise and Jenny Rozbruch
Editor: Alessandra Balzer
Author: Margaret Cardillo