Monday, February 20, 2017

Diversity in Children's Books

A number of years ago, I went to a children's book conference at the University of Mass. with some friends. We got to see Tomie Di Paola (StregaNona, etc.) speak about his Italian-Irish family and how he based many of his books on his upbringing in that culture. 

One of the workshops I took that day was presented by the noted African-American children's book illustrator James Ransome. He showed slides of his work and discussed his method of illustration and especially how he used composition to compliment the action in his books! After the workshop I got to ask him a question I had because I was working on a children's book at the time that featured an African-American child. 

I asked about illustrating children from a different culture or race of your own. I had recently read an article saying that illustrators or writers should stay within their own race or culture in their artistic endeavors. In other words, since I'm white do I have the right to illustrate a child of color, and can I be accurate in doing so even if I am not of that race or culture?
He was very kind and encouraging and said that as long as you research your subject well, anyone should be able to write or illustrate any race or culture. He mentioned that he had created illustrations of white people and had always wanted to be very accurate in his portrayal! I was so grateful for that interchange and glad that I had had the chance to meet him!

Here's a quote by James Ransome stressing the need for illustrators of all races to create children's books that represent minorities!

Q. Do you feel there is a lack of books out there to show minority children images of themselves?
 "I think the industry is changing, but I think there's lots of room for more books about different kids. Usually, the burden is put on African-Americans or Hispanics or Asians to do books about themselves, so they can be represented. If an illustrator is doing a book, why not have some of the kid's friends be of different nationalities? So often, the burden of inclusion is dealt with only by minorities. It's not dealt with by white illustrators. Without it being written in the text, I would like to see more of that. I think that would help everyone. The responsibility is not just with minorities trying to depict minorities indifferent situations. Everyone should be trying to do it.

Below is a great video by my favorite illustration teacher, Will Terry about diversity in children's books.

Here are some of my illustrations  and drawings featuring diversity!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! Collage work!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Been going through my digital art files and found these designs for cards I made a while ago. Not sure if I still have the originals, but  thought I'd share these here. I love cut paper collage! Most of my work is portrait work- caricature, silhouettes, or pencil portraits, as well as illustrations for kid books. The materials I usually rely on include, colored pencils, art stix, permanent markers, or even watercolor. But not often collage or cut paper except in silhouettes! However I did include some collage along with watercolor in my book Kamal's Day (available from I find that using cut paper or collage is a way of freeing up my style and allowing me to move places artisically, that I don't usually work with.

#kidlit, #baha'ipublishing, #bellwoodpress
This is the cover for Kamal's Day.
I used bits and pieces of collage paper, including some origami paper, in every illustration.

The first illustration in Kamal's Day.

Another illustration from Kamal's Day.

This was an experiment in illustrating a song I once wrote called "Living On The Coast Of Maine". I used colored pencils and collage as well as silhouettes. This picture won a blue ribbon once in an exhibit a few years ago.
Happy Drawing!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Latest Work/ What's New In My Etsy Shop and Mandala Monday Too!

Here are some samples, that I drew from looking at faces in google search. I think I typed in "faces of Diversity".  I included these "practice" caricatures in my Etsy Shop as samples for custom orders. Valentines Day is coming and I like to offer my custom work as possible gifts for any specific holiday coming up!

Here is a silhouette item I'm offering: Hand-cut Silhouettes in a hand-cut border!

And yes, it's Mandala Monday. So here is my favorite video on making mandalas! It shows how to keep track of the marks you make, and encourages you to turn the paper to make marks in a circular pattern. It's a very user -friendly video and specifically designed for beginners!
Happy Drawing!

Kamal's Day and Babysitter Blues make great Ayyam-i-ha gifts!

Kamal's Day and Babysitter Blues make great gifts!

SO grateful that I have two books that I've written and illustrated available on line NOW!  A picture book for the young ones and a ch...