The art of the picture book

Kid-Character-Design

It’s funny how once you become interested in a particular topic, it’s not long before it becomes an obsession. That’s how I feel about picture books. Lately, I’ve been hanging out in the picture book section of the local library feeling slightly awkward and a little in pain from bending down to the picture book height size shelves. All the websites and blogs I have been trolling through are related to picture books. I have also found a couple of fantastic podcasts about picture books like Let’s Get Busy  by teacher librarian, Matthew C.Winner. On his podcast, Matthew interviews both picture book authors and illustrators. He oozes enthusiasm and you get that sense he adores the process involved in the creation of a picture book. I have even signed up for a short course in November with a published picture book illustrator, James Foley.

I’m thoroughly enjoying studying the picture book, dissecting (not literally) it down sentence by sentence, page by page to try and understand what makes an effective story and how to pair the story and illustrations. There is such skill involved in the art of the reveal, in creating a story that when read out loud sounds lyrical in nature and coming up with illustrations that aim to add to the story and are not simply a reflection of what is being said.

When it comes down to it, I think I’m simply in love with the pairing of story and art whatever the art form. One of my favourite artists is Pascal Campion  who creates a sketch a day. He believes in the importance of storytelling. Through his daily sketches, Pascal captures moments of time, a familiar memory in life, an expression or interaction between people that makes you instantly reconstruct the rest of the story following the illustration. My all time favourite movie scenes is in the animation movie “Up“. Near the start of the movie, there is a series of picture moments covering the whole love story between Carol and Ellie with virtually no words spoken. It is so beautiful and nearly always makes me cry as it holds so much emotion. What a fantastic skill in moving beyond the spoken word and being able to express a story through illustrations alone. I know another animation movie “Wall-E” is much loved for similar reasons.  Once I have a few picture books under my belt, I am keen to try my hand at creating a wordless picture book. I would be chuffed if I could create books like “Journey” and “Quest” by Aaron Becker .

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