Friday, September 21, 2007

Down south

I'm in cornwall visiting my mother and my grandfather. Also working, except I'm using my sore throat as an excuse not to do so much of that as I'd originally intended (bank account says don't keep this up).

My mother owns a painting by Joy Wolfenden Brown and so I am always reminded to go and look at her work when I'm here, I like some of it very much, (click the 'view all image' button on the top right of that link to see a good range).

Today I learned my first whole fiddle tune from written music, and I'm quite proud of that. Enrico. Thomas Hardy's favourite tune. Oh, wait, I've forgotten it...

I did a short e-mail interview for today. Prepare to have heard it all before, unless you haven't. I wanted to say more interesting things about influences and then plumped for my usual. True though:

> Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie and Shark and Lobster’s Amazing Undersea Adventure both have comic book elements, with text appearing in speech bubbles and several different scenes on one page; is this a genre that has influenced you?

Yes, I loved comics as a child, and there are still some that are important to me now. But I am as much influenced by picture book makers who have used these elements. Edward Ardizzone, Sendak, etc. I don't know why these languages are divided up by people though, really. Obviously some things are confusing for the youngest of children, but people often underestimate children's understanding of pictures and graphics.
> You’ve illustrated both your own books and also the work of other authors such as Viviane Schwarz, Malachy Doyle and Roald Dahl; which do you prefer doing?

It's very different. I do like only having to concentrate on visual ideas, and having a springboard that doesn't come only from me. And then each writer is different to work with too. I like doing both, but I do notice recently that I get a better reaction to work that is all mine. And it is beautiful to find children taking things just the way I meant them. Particularly with Dexter Bexley. And I hope also with the forthcoming Addis Berner Bear Forgets. I like to undercut and play with a piece of text, and I do this with my own writing as well as others. And then some of my own writing starts with drawing in the first place. It's mixed up. I'm mixed up.
> You studied at Falmouth College of Art, did you always plan to illustrate picture books and do you feel that today’s art students are encouraged to think of picture book illustration as a viable career option?
I don't know yet if it is a viable career option (laughs), though I've managed ok for seven years... They are certainly encouraged to think it at college though, and that helps I guess. Illustration is still sometimes frowned at by fine art departments, but then I think that a lot of illustration is worth frowning at. So is a lot of fine art. {Edit: I just noticed that I didn't answer all of this question. No I didn't expressly plan to illustrate picture books when I began studying. I didn't not though, either}.

> What materials do you prefer to work with when illustrating?

Oh, I change all the time. From very traditional media to entirely digital, and mostly a mixture of the two. Drawing and spontaneity is the thing though. That I am always striving for, and missing often in finished work.
> Your latest book The Trouble With Wenlocks is an illustrated chapter book; will you be writing any more books for older readers?

Yes, I am just now working on the second draft of the next book in the sequence, or case-book or whatever it is. My, but it is hard for me. All that writing. But very rewarding (not financially, you understand, it certainly isn't that). I don't feel like an author at all, but I think that is self defense of some kind. It's obviously what I am to a degree.
> Which children’s authors and illustrators did you like as a child and who do you admire now?

Sendak was very important to me, and Eric Carle. And also Quentin Blake, who I now know a little (beams with pride). These days I love Edward Ardizzone, Lisbeth Zwerger, Wolf Erlbruch, and lots of others. But I find that I look to my own drawing and sketching now, and also fine art painting, printmaking and drawing, as much as anything. There is still not an author or illustrator that I admire more than Tove Jansson. And I loved the Moomin books as a child. Amazing woman.

After I'd sent the interview off the interviewer sent me this link to an article about Tove.


Rowan said...

I'm reading old Swedish Moomin books on recommendation of more than one person here.
They're lovely. And useful for language.
Have fun down south, xx

Joel Stewart said...

Oh, what a wonderful thing to be able to do!


Joel Stewart said...

Ooh ooh ooh, can you bring me some back?

Joel Stewart said...

And, I'm being overwhelming now, if you see an edition of Alice in Wonderland with her illustrations (her things tended to be published in swedish first of all) I would kill for it!

Rowan said...

I'll ask the more-than-one Tove Jansson fanatic here what else they have...

No pressure :)