One major advantage to being a remote freelancer is flexible location — so, while still working for my web and design clients, I temporarily relocated during the summer of 2013 to study children’s book illustration at RISD. It was a fantastic whirlwind, during which I almost learned to paint. During this intensive experience, we explored the many different approaches to style, technique, diversity, storytelling and communication within the genre. We also worked with live child models — drawing children is surprisingly difficult! Some of of my class projects:
1-2. Mashenka & The Bear: Our largest assignment was to storyboard and then illustrate a folk tale. My assigned text was Mashenka & The Bear, a Russian story in which a bear is outsmarted by a little girl. My paintings were deliberately done in a style that owes much to great Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin. Researching his work was pure pleasure — his details, especially those of the natural world (trees, mushrooms, animals) are truly wonderful.
3. There Once Was a Puffin: This assignment was to bring anthropomorphic animals to life on the page. Given a choice of three poems, I chose the puffin and his fishy friends. Research highlight: sketching a stuffed puffin in the RISD Nature Lab.
4. Little Wizard: This was the only assignment where we were able to generate our own textual content. My story involved a family of wizards and witches who attempt to live magic-free during a weekend camping trip (wand lights are an exception to the no-magic rule, since their light is more environmentally friendly than battery powered flashlights).
5. Noodles: This exercise was about visually bringing together two poems that were unrelated (text was assigned). Children were required to be a certain age.