I recently had the pleasure of Skype visiting with a batch of lovely kindergarteners. Kindergarteners ask the cutest questions.
For those of you who don’t know, I do a limited number of free Skype visits each year. It’s on a first come, first serve basis. Last month the librarian from a school in North Dakota contacted me and asked if I could help her explain to her kindergarteners the difference between an author and an illustrator. I usually Skye visit with older children, but I believed I could do a simplified version of my “How an Illustrator Works” presentation for the wee ones. I asked the librarian to send me a few questions before the visit so I could fit my presentation to their interests.
The librarian read 2 of my books to the kids. Watchers (which I also wrote) and Rabbit’s Song by S. J. Tucker. My “How an Illustrator Works” presentation utilizes the art from Rabbit’s Song, so this was perfect.
The day of the presentation I received an email with 10 questions from the children. Kindergarteners ask the cutest questions. I thought I’d share some of them with you, followed by my answers.
One of the kids wanted to know if I drew when I was little. I told the class that I had been drawing my entire life. I even showed them a picture I’d done when I was about their age. My class was supposed to draw a turkey. I didn’t want to because we were going to eat turkey for Thanksgiving. So I drew a turtle going to Thanksgiving dinner instead. She had a purse and she was crying because her friend the turkey was being served for supper. The drawing is in crayon on what used to be black construction paper. The color has faded to a sort of olive-green since the image is so old. The kids loved it.
Another student asked if I have to practice a lot. I told them I had to practice drawing every day. That even though I was a grandma, I still went to art classes, too. Then I showed them samples of my doodles in my sketchbooks. They loved the silly images I showed them. The horse riding a bicycle got a huge laugh.
Other questions were more directed to the mechanics of how an illustration becomes a part of the book. I showed them the process I go through from when I receive the word document with the text for the story up until I receive the color proofs before the book is printed. Part of this process includes the piles of research involved before I even start sketching. I showed them samples of photo shoots I took with my husband and a model who became the main character in the book. I also showed them images of many of the animals I researched for the book. I told them an illustrator has to really know what an animals looks like before they can make them all cute for a book. I would have liked to show them my more realistic pencils studies and the progression from there to the final characters, but I couldn’t find that particular sketchbook.
They wanted to know if it was hard to be an author or an illustrator. I said, yes, it was a lot of work. I told them that making the art for a book can take me many months to complete. I told them that sometimes it can take years for all the art and pieces of a book to be finished before the book is for sale in a store. They thought that was amazing.
The all time cutest question was:
“How do you draw the covers on that hard paper?” Adorable. And completely logical.
I showed them the progression of the cover painting for Rabbit’s Song. Since I still have the color and printer proofs I could show them what the cover looks like before the hard stock that makes a hardcover book is encased in the printed illustration. They really liked that answer. It was as if I was telling them a very cool secret.
Later in the week, I received a video thank you from the students. Kindergarteners ask the cutest questions and they are just so adorable when they say thank you.