As I just typed in my last post…I am very pleased to be a stop on the Sydney Taylor Blog Tour!
I got to e-chat with the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners in the Younger Readers Category, the creators of Ketzel the Cat who Composed: Author Lesléa Newman and illustrator Amy June Bates.
Come have a listen:
Tell me about your art style. What media do you work in?
I work in watercolor, gouache, and pencil. I love the expression and freedom that I get in just drawing. Watercolor is an extension of that, but it offers me interesting textures and a fluidity that expresses my reality in a way that resonates, pleases and surprises me.
I notice that you have the composer in a timeless, almost old fashioned wardrobe. And the book and the illustrations have an old-world feel to them, with lots of browns and sepia. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
Each book I do has a different palette and basically it is motivated by the text. I have an old-fashioned style. I use an old fashioned equipment- paintbrush and paint. You will not find bright pink or computer genorated color schemes in my work. Beyond that, in this particular book Moshe’s character seemed to be unconcerned with modern life or the whirl of the city, but in a musical world of his own, so I wanted to set him apart. The city and the pedestrians and the backgrounds are a 1990’s city.
How did you decide what the main character should look like? Is he based on the real -life composer’s looks, or did you imagine someone totally new?
This book isn’t a strict biography. I believe Moshe had a wife and children- although they were not included in the text obviously. Why? because it makes a better and simpler picture book probably. I based the character loosely on what Moshe looked like in real life, but I chose to soften him I guess you could say.
Your illustrations of Ketzel the cat are so charming. How is illustrating a cat character different or similar to illustrating a human?
I like drawing people. We are infinitely interesting in variety and expression. I find people fascinating, right down to the choice of keychain that they carry. Animals are so close to humans in construction. Arms, legs, spine, nose, eyes- they have them too. It is impossible for me not to anthropomorphize those features when I draw- possibly because I do books for children. However, animals do not carry keychains.
Liked that? Read my chat with author Leslea Newman over here.