Thursday, September 22, 2011

2011 SCBWI Illustrators Intensive – Even More Notes!

Richard Jesse Watson

I like to cross-hatch with an exacto knife.
The subject matter (of a painting) tells you what medium to use.
Some mediums ’fight’ you.

I like the challenge of 'making do' (with tools and supplies).

Experiment. Sometimes when you experiment you fail. But then you know ‘don’t do that again!—It was easier in my imagination!’

I like to play with symmetry and design.

He likes to use egg tempera, and has spent as long as three months on one egg tempera painting. The elegance of egg tempera painting comes from the delicate brush work that’s possible as well as its transparency. It’s a dance between opacity and transparency. He thinks you can get similar results with acrylics.

Both oils and tempera need to breathe, that’s why they can be used together. (You can paint oil OVER tempera).

He doesn’t recommend (egg tempera) unless you have a lot of patience.

Strathmore rag illustration board is an elegant amazing surface—either ‘toothy’ or hot press. But hot press is not good with an electric eraser (which he likes to use). It can ruin the surface.

Kadir Nelson

I’ve been searching high and low for notes from Kadir Nelson’s demonstration. I was so mesmerized by watching him paint this amazing portrait, I must not have taken any!

The subject -- a volunteer from the audience -- is illustrator Dan Santat.

These photos speak for themselves.....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 SCBWI Illustrators Intensive -- Some More Notes

More quotes and photos from the August SCBWI Intensive

David Small
I don’t see how anyone can be an illustrator if they can’t draw the human body from memory.

(Retaining spontaneity) is my goal.

Don’t illustrate a manuscript unless you love it.  You will have to read it every day of your life for a year. Don’t do it just for the money.
My eye knows when I’m finished (with an illustration).
Rembrandt was an illustrator!

Synthetic brushes last forever....

On book tours I always take a sketch book. I need to keep drawing!

The artist’s duty is not to surprise the viewer.  The artist’s duty is to surprise himself.

A sort of calm (comes over me) when I’ve done something really good…(something) that welcomes or disturbs the eye in a pleasant way.

Marla Frazee
I stretch every kind of paper (from) Xerox 1 ply recycled paper to series 500 Strathmore hot press paper. It doesn’t have to be watercolor paper.  Getting the paper wet sets the graphite sketch (so it won’t smudge). I don’t use illustration board because you can’t use it with a light box.

I use Windsor & Newton watercolor or gouache and inexpensive brushes.
I paint 50 or more layers (with a small brush!) for my backgrounds. It’s not interesting to watch!

I like to use Prismacolor black Verithin and ebony graphite 5H pencils.
I draw out of my head, from a model or if photo reference is needed I Google it. I also have a scrap file of images. When using photo images (I take care) not to get too close to the photo image or the illustration won’t work.

Think character, scale, setting…
Technique is secondary because if the illustration isn’t working it doesn’t matter (what the technique is).

Think of the rhythm of the story…Where are the beats?
I have no desire to do art on a computer. Work in a way that relaxes you. I get tense on the computer. It feels great (to me) to spend the day in the studio working!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 SCBWI Illustrators Intensive -- Some Notes

SCBWI followed their summer Conference this year with a chance to attend either a writer’s or illustrator’s intensive.  I chose the Illustrators Intensive and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see some of the ‘greats’ demonstrating their illustrating techniques.

I wrote down some snippets of the information (on tools etc.) so dear to the hearts of illustrators’ fans and groupies!

Jerry Pinkney

Some preferences…

2B pencil for sketching

A tint of raw umber or ochre (rather than a white ground) because “it gives something for the colors to bounce off of.”

Arches 300 lb. or 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper “…hot press allows for greater detail.”


Re: dealing with ‘artists’ block’…  ”Sometimes deadlines get you unstuck!”

Interesting info:  He never spends more than 3 days on an illustration. “But that could mean 10 hour workdays…” And it really means 3 days + 30 years experience!

Paul O. Zelinsky


125 lb. cold press watercolor paper because “it’s kind of forgiving.”

Inexpensive brushes are fine if they have a sharp point.

A clean work environment is important “but it never is” (clean).


He stretches his watercolor paper (unless it’s thick enough not to need being stretched).

Concerning avoiding over painting….”Use a lot of hope!”

He uses a medieval technique involving underpainting with water base paint followed by oil painting.

I found the demonstrations helpful as well as inspiring.  I’m going to stop worrying about expensive vs. inexpensive brushes and my work environment not being as neat as I’d like!  And I’m finally going to experiment with underpainting – oils over water-based paint....

More notes and photos from the Intensive on my next post!