Illustrating your Own Story! Becoming an AuthorArtist - Part 1 with Maya Gonzalez
Hands down the most important thing I have ever learned to keep creativity flowing is to do just that, go with the flow. Last month the computer crashed, the blog seemed lost and all I could do was my best to stay buoyant and trust. And here we are! Flowed all the way into the next month! The computer lives! And here is the post I thought had vanished deep behind the blue screen of death last month. Viva creativity! Viva the flow!
I realized recently this would be the perfect space to begin a short series of guidance toward illustrating your own children’s book manuscript. The other day I was chatting with someone professionally and they said I was a “rare breed” to be both an artist and an author of children’s books. Interesting, I thought, since my first rule of art is EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST. So I’m out to spread the word! I’m no rare breed. YOU too can illustrate the tale you’ve told! You don’t have to think of yourself as an artist to do it. You already are an artist. You’re a story teller. You’ll just be adding another dimension to your telling. Authorartists! A NEW breed! Rare at first perhaps, but growing!
I won’t go into all the details or the this and that’s of illustrating. No, no, no. To begin, just let your imagination run free. Take it slow. Take a nice long moment to be FREEE. Let yourself just look, look, look around to see what kinds of illustrations you like and might even feel like you could do! Look everywhere, not just at children’s books. Look at magazines and CD covers, advertisements and movie posters, fine art, even recipe books, fabric patterns, food labels! Look at everything.
Look for things that look fun and easy to do, like cut paper, collage, photography and simple drawing and painting. Be a kid again. Remember what it’s like to feel that you can do anything in the world. Pretend and play. Download my Everyone is an Artist handout to color. Mess around drawing figures and funny faces. Get a new pencil or some charcoal and scribble and smear. Don’t be precise. In fact, be imprecise--please!
I LOVE images that feel raw and immediate and I love children’s books with art a kid could figure out and imitate. Gather a nice cache of images to start. I’ve included some of the images at the bottom of this post that I’ve gathered lately. You will begin to see what you like. Don’t try to figure out how it’s done just yet. Know that you are an artist and soon you will be making more and more art. Next month we’ll take it a step further. Did you know relaxation and a sense of play allow the flow to flow more flowingly?
So to recap, your job this next month is to:
Come be part of a new breed of authorartists!
This month I’ll also be joining Mira in her Hero’s Art Journey interactive e-course, a great place to gather lots of images from art history, journey through your blocks and fears about creativity, learn gobs of techniques and begin to make art in community! And of course, play!
And, here's some imagery that I've been drawn to lately: (click images to view the gallery)
Maya Gonzalez is largely self-taught. She has illustrated over 20 award-winning multicultural children’s books and written 3 with, not an end in sight! Her latest book, Call Me Tree, set to come out next year with Lee&Low Books, is her most recent labor of love! Her fine art has shown internationally and appears in numerous books about the contemporary Chicano Art Movement including on the cover of Living Chicana Theory and Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Art: Artists, Works, Culture and Education considered to be "the Bible of Chicano/a art." Ridiculously creative, she’s probably making art as you read this or thinking about making art if she’s driving a car or using the stove. And one of her ultimate passions is inspiring others to create books, because she believes that creating children's books has the potential to be one of the most radical things you can do!
10/4/2013 08:04:57 am
10/5/2013 06:45:24 am
oh angie, i literally cannot tell you how tickled reading this makes me! there's something powerful and deep that happens when we understand that we are all artists. you are awesome! you are artist!
10/5/2013 11:44:55 am
10/5/2013 04:00:51 pm
every step counts!
10/7/2013 05:24:45 am
Thank you for this Maya! It comes at just the perfect moment as all good things do =)
10/7/2013 06:02:30 am
fab! and there's so much more to come!
10/7/2013 07:55:59 am
Great blog post, Maya.
10/30/2013 03:48:37 am
it's great journeying with you colleen. love you work!
10/7/2013 08:21:40 am
Thank you so much, Maya. My father and brothers were all "poor dirt farmers" but they were also all artists. They sketched, drew, did oil paintings, cartoons. Wonderful work. I've always thought some of their talent must be in me, but I have so little patience. You have inspired me!!
10/30/2013 03:50:04 am
marsha, what a powerful image! "poor dirt farmers" painting oils! beautiful. i think of van gogh for some reason. you are packed with talent darling!
10/7/2013 08:33:24 am
Maya-You are always inspirational. When you speak, I can tell it comes from the heart and from your love of art and writing. I look forward to taking the Hero's Art Journey course.
10/30/2013 03:47:39 am
charlotte, oops, just saw this! it's wonderful seeing your work and being on journey with you!
10/7/2013 08:45:20 am
Maya, thank you for this! I, too, have recently opened myself up to the possibility that an artist lurks inside me. My mother and grandmother were artists, and I've always lamented the fact that I'm not gifted that way. But the more I pay attention to picture books, the more I see that "art" varies widely - some of it even I could probably do now! And just like with my writing, if I start taking those "baby steps" now, the tiny amount of talent I possess might grow big enough to fill a book or two...
10/30/2013 03:51:19 am
oh oh oh, i love hearing this sandy! i am imagining your book, illustrated by you in your hands now.
10/7/2013 08:58:22 am
I'm in! I have the opportunity to travel to Venice next month and I've located a local artist who will give me one or a few private lessons to get me started and involved...Noemi at www.nacasona.net. Also a way to contribute to the arts....I can't wait!
10/30/2013 03:52:07 am
brilliant! what an adventure. so romantic sounding.
10/16/2013 08:06:00 am
I started out as an artist and then I learned it was a lot of fun to write a story to go with the art. I have even had one art job for a writer a few months ago.
10/30/2013 03:53:53 am
ha! that's fantastic nita! i started out as a writer and then walked away to make art, now that the art is established, i'm walking back toward writing...but now i consider myself an artist first...chicken? egg? hmmmmm?
11/4/2013 07:21:44 am
Maya, I've enjoyed part 1 and part 2. I love how you encourage us to play with art materials. Often I get so tight and precise that I forget how to have fun. This is great way to loosen up. Thanks so much for sharing.
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