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!
Meet the Friday Blogonauts
First Fridays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer , man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
Second Fridays will feature awesome multi-award winning author Marsha Diane Arnold who will be writing about character-driven and/or nature-based books and/or anything she likes :)
Third Fridays will feature independent Aladdin/Simon & Shuster editor Emma Sector who has helped bring many books into the world.
Fourth Fridays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
Fifth Fridays will feature the fabulous Carl Angel award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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