This week’s inspiration focuses on my newest favorite illustrator I discovered this year, David Catrow. David Catrow has written and illustrated a vast amount of children’s books. I fell in love with David’s illustrating genius when I read “I Wanna Iguana” and “I Wanna New Room” both of these books were superbly written by Karen Kaufman Orloff and illustrated by David Catrow. These two books are downright hilarious reads, both focusing on, Alex, a young boy who is writing and receiving letters from his parents as he tries to persuade his parents to let him have an iguana (“I Wanna Iguana) or a new room in order to get away from a meddlesome little brother (I Wanna New Room). I personally love the style these books are written in and David Catrow’s illustrations are an absolutely stunning pairing with Karen Orloff’s writing style.
I love how bright and colorful the illustrations are in the works that David does. Each page is full of colors that you may not normally think would work or should be used together, but David makes it work splendidly and each illustration really captures the eye of the reader. David also takes a literal approach to his illustrations, for example in the book “I Wanna New Room” the boy, Alex, is complaining about his younger brother snoring like a walrus and stuffing crayons in his nose. David’s illustration of this complaint is Alex, in his room trying to hide from an oversized walrus with crayons stuffed in his nose. This illustration made me laugh so hard because David perfectly emulated what my mind was thinking and did so in a creative and fun way.
David Catrow has a multitude of other books, a lot that I have yet to have the pleasure to read, but look forward to reading in the future. For me any book that has been illustrated by David Catrow is a book worth picking up and reading. David’s illustrative style of color and creative imagery is a style that I want to emulate and craft into my own unique style. I recommend checking out http://www.catrow.com/ for more information about David as an author or illustrator as well as his blog, and his envy inducing list of works he has written and illustrated. For comedically genius and colorful illustrations and writing check out David Catrow for some summer reading, perfect for a read aloud at anytime.
To all my faithful followers, (which at this time is a small amount of people I now hold in high esteem) I will be posting regularly about my process and updating my works pages and whatnot coming soon. I will make sure to add a Friday Inspiration this week, I at least have that already planned. In regards to why I am lacking in the updating department; I am currently purchasing and moving in to a house as of next Monday (Yay! It has been a long time coming), I am also in the last now 3 (Yay again!) days of the school year and it is surprisingly busy for the end of the year, so many little things to turn in to the head honchos. I will, however, have A LOT of time with summer off (Yay one last time!) so I plan on spending all of my free time channeling my inner Wright brother, to get my writing career launched and sailing along. Keep checking for updates I promise to not be so long in between posts, spread the word and remember to daydream daily.
Have you every been unbelievably bored? Have ever been bored and no idea suggested to you (especially that suggestion about cleaning your room) sounded good? Have you ever had a potato hit you in the head and want to play?…me neither. But in the book, I’m Bored written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, that is exactly the situation in which the little girl in the story finds herself. The story continues on, after the potato’s grand entrance, with the girl trying to convince a most unimpressed potato that there are plenty of things to do. The girl spouts off a long list of things that kids can do with their imagination such as; pretending to be a pirate, a scientist, a dragon slayer or a ballerina. To each suggestion the potato irritatingly replies…boring. By the end of the story the girl is no longer consumed in a dark cloud of boredom, rather realizes that “Kid’s can do anything!!!” and a potato is not necessary. The last two pages introduce another character referenced at the beginning, but I won’t spoil the fun.
I absolutely love everything about this book and so did the rambunctious third graders in my class, who I am sure spend a lot of time at home responding to their parents like a certain potato. I found this book while perusing my school library and after reading the first page I knew it was going to be a winner. Michael Ian Black’s writing in this story is fantastic, he somehow perfectly encapsulates a most unlikely conversation between a bored little girl and an impassive potato. The book is made for being read aloud and the writing truly lends itself to creativity with voices and expression. I love the simple response by the potato each time, boring. Responding to the girl’s wonderful and fun activities with an unenthusiastic, boring, really made my kids laugh each time (by the third or fourth page my kids knew the response each time, but still loved it nonetheless). Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s illustrations definitely take this story to the next level. As describes on her website, http://debbieohi.com/ , her illustrations are whimsical, and that perfectly describes the feel on each page. The illustrations are simple, yet convey the character/potato’s expressions expertly. I personally love how simple the illustrations are in this story and will definitely be experimenting with this whimsical illustrated look. This book is a perfect example of a writer who has a great book that would be funny, regardless of illustrator, but because of the great illustrations this book is one that I will read over and over and keep on hand for my students to continually enjoy. Being bored has nothing to do with what you don’t have, your imagination is all you need and imagination, is better than a potato.
My illustrative process has slowly been evolving, like any artists’, over time. I have always loved sketching and drawing with pencil, be that on an actual sketchpad, or bored in class, meetings, etc. When I first started college I thought I wanted to go in to graphic design or some type of artsy major. I’m really glad I didn’t, the few classes I took really turned me off to continuing art as a major,. Nothing against those that do, but it was not for me. My art is my own and in high school I dealt with enough people hijacking what they thought my art should be, so I took a different route and found myself traveling down the path to becoming an elementary school teacher (Where I took a class that lead me to realizing I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books, referenced in the “In the Beginning” post”. In any case, over the last few years I have been slowly, EVER so slowly, been developing an artistic style that I enjoy and can call my own (I have pulled from other illustrators that I have seen, who will be featured in upcoming inspiration posts). Recently I have really been on a hot streak, starting illustrating a story that I have had written for about a year or so. I have attempted many times to start my illustrations, but I never liked the end result, and it was at this point I found myself treading water with my books. A few weeks ago I really diagnosed my problem and the reason as to why I have not gone any further in the process of becoming an author. The reason is, quite plainly I hated my illustrations, but I so badly want to illustrate my own writings. In my head the illustrations are flawless and stunning paintings, rivaling anything on the market now, or at least a close competitor. Every time I tried I wanted to tear my hair out in frustration, or throw my computer out a window. How could an idea I have in my head not come out anywhere near what I wanted. Well, my main issue was I was rushing the illustrative process, doing rush job not even my mom would appreciate, though she would probably try. You see I have invested in a Wacom digital drawing tablet in order to illustrate on my computer and do all sorts of creative paintings. Whenever I felt the urge to draw or try and illustrate a page from my book I would start and try and get a whole illustrated painting done ASAP (this is a terrible idea). In doing this I would not sketch on a real sheet of paper, I would just kind of dive in and see where the painting ended up. Never worked, I was so frustrated every time and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t translate the painting from my brain to the computer. So, a few weeks ago I decided to get out a real pad and paper, and carve out a serious chunk of my time to work. I worked for several hours, sketching, erasing, more sketching, outlining in pen, erasing, laying down base color, blending and adding shadows. Over several days I worked on one illustration (hadn’t ever real done this) and by the end I was over-the-moon happy with my illustration. My plan now is to start each illustration as a pencil sketch, outline with black ink, then move to the digital realm to finish off the illustration. The end product will be about half real paper and half digital work. This is a compromise that I have found works best for me and gives me the creative power and ability to tailor my illustrations to perfectly fit the idea in my head. Look forward to seeing my works in progress soon.
This will be the first of many entries as a part of a weekly post series about where I find inspiration. Inspiration not only for my artistic endeavors, but inspiration that motivates me and encourages me to persevere through criticism (someone else’s or my own). My first entry, as is stated in my title, is the one and only lightbulb inventing, Thomas Edison. Mr. Edison may not be someone that jumps to the front of everyone’s mind when they think of creative inspiration or motivation. He does, however, come to the forefront of my mind as a source of inspiration on staying motivated and persevering through trials. About a month ago I was reading a book in my classroom about inventions. In this book Edison, obviously for the invention of the lightbulb, was mentioned and talked about. In the information that was given about Edison and what he invented, the book stated that Edison failed 1,200 times before successfully inventing the lightbulb. I was quite astonished at that insane figure, as having not heard that fact before. From my own education I knew who invented the lightbulb, but in my mind I never gave much thought as to the serious amount of time and effort that went into the invention of the lightbulb. After reading that it took Edison 1200 tries to create a working lightbulb I really had to take a step back and look at what I have attempted in my life and ask myself, “Did I try my hardest? Would I ever keep trying something that had already failed 1,199 times before?” In asking myself these questions I came to the conclusion that I had not failed at anything anywhere near the astronomical number of 1,200 and kept going. In fact, up until this point I was at a serious stalemate between my dream of being a children’s author and consigning myself to failure before I had even attempted to be published. Fear is what causes me to procrastinate, get lost in the depths of the internet, fear had me quitting before I even began. I have not even failed in an attempt to be published, yet I was basically quitting by not continuing to edit my writings or finish my illustrations. Then I read about Edison and it all clicked, persevere and keep pushing until that bulb finally turns on. D|K
My hope is that this blog will force me to become even more focused on achieving my dreams. As of this moment I have written several books, they are just sitting in my hard drive, I would love to have these books published, those books do still need to be reviewed and edited with again to ensure the manuscripts can showcase the true potential in each book. I also have a whole list of great ideas that have sprung to me at odd times, like when I am going to sleep or sitting in a boring meeting (if there is one good thing about a boring meeting, it’s that I have uninterrupted daydreaming time). I have seriously sat down over the last week and taken a brand new approach to fulfilling my desires. Achievement breaks down to something very simple, prioritizing my time. I am an extremely good procrastinator, in fact I tell people if there was a chance I could have majored in procrastination in college, I would have been first in class. My main time waster is pointless internet reading (if you’re reading this blog and thinking that may be what you are doing now, I assure you my words are not pointless, rather divine messages to inspire your own thoughts and creations). I love cars, the beauty, the speed, the sounds, (I have an idea centered around this love) so I find myself wasting a lot of time reading car news stories and looking at what’s new and coming out soon. I also waste a lot of time reading news stories, not even news stories that are breaking news and impact my life, more like the news stories about a dog that was trained to talk or a bear that can hula hoop (that was pretty awesome though). I have come to the conclusion, however, that if I truly want to end up doing anything I truly love, I need to GET TO IT. So I am trying something new, I have started this blog, I have deleted the time wasting websites from my bookmarks bar and I am challenging myself to spend my time wisely and use my talents to create and fulfill the dream that I know will come true. As I spend time in front of the computer I usually circumnavigate myself through all of the same websites over and over, there is never anything new or worth my valuable time to waste reading, yet I continue on this path and continue to waste time. So as of this moment that will change, I took a break in writing this post to eat dinner, (sub-par cooking on my part) came back to finish this post and even sitting thinking about what else to say, I found myself itching to go and spend time on the websites I was just on an hour ago, that is a serious problem and a major trauma to my creative process. So I am signing off and I am going to work on some drawings. Current work and Ideas to be forthcoming.
This blog for me will be a sounding board, a creative outlet and a display of my stories and illustrations. I will use this blog as a commentary on my personal journey of becoming a children’s author and illustrator. On this blog I hope to record every step of my process to educate other hopeful illustrators and document the extent of my journey as I start down this path. I want so badly to achieve this dream, this will become my priority and my hope until my dream is fulfilled.