Ever wondered what it’s like to take a picture book idea through to completion and see it on the shelf? As someone who’s concentrated on longer projects till now, I’m utterly intrigued. How can you tell a story in so few words? How do you know what would be best left to the pictures? Or if you're the illustrator, how do you make best use of your space and let the words do their job while you bring another part of the story to life?
Many of you will be much more accomplished: You’ll have tried, maybe got there, or nearly there, but most will still want to learn more about how to make the process smoother and the outcome better. Elizabeth O Dulemba has spent many years working out just how to do this and has built an award winning career both illustrating and writing picture books. Until recently she lived in the USA but recently – ever seeking new inspiration –she shipped over to Edinburgh to further her Art portfolio and has given us the ideal chance to nab her for an intensive workshop.
|A Bird On Water Street by Elizabeth O. Dilemma|
To warm us up, we thought we’d find out a bit about how Elizabeth herself works and asked her:
What's your favourite way to start a Picture Book project?The initial idea stage is always fun. Ideas come to me in dreams, in the shower, on walks, out of the air or by twisting a thought. When they first come in, they seem so bright and clever - better ideas than sliced bread or swiss cheese. It’s a lovely moment. Then reality sets in and they need work. The lines need fiddling, the concept needs tightening, and I have to draw it - which I love, but which is also extremely time consuming. It begins with character studies - pages of sketches of "Well, hello there. Who are you?” And there’s the book dummy, of course. The entire concept has to work, from characters, to plot, to page turns. It’s a unique art form and I just adore it.
|Lula's Brew by Elizabeth O. Dulemba|
2. You've just been to the Bologna Book Fair. How has that inspired your illustration?
The Book Fair was wonderful - but also overwhelming and intimidating. I’ve been writing my wrap-up articles here, where I mention my big take-away... You absolutely cannot predict the market, or position yourself to sell. Tastes are too varied. All you can do is create what feeds your soul and hope it's of interest to somebody else.
On the day of the workshop, we’ll all be hoping to develop our own craft but we also wondered who might be interesting to look at for illustration inspiration.
We asked Elizabeth:
3. Who are your picture book heroes? and why? (interpret that as you will, characters or author/illustators)There are some key people who I blame for getting me into this mess who inspired me to become a children’s book illustrator. The first is Garth Williams - not the books *Charlotte’s Web *or *Little House on the Prairie*, but the lesser known *Golden Book of Elves and Fairies. *I grew up staring at the illustrations wishing I could crawl into them or create that magical experience for somebody else. Other heroes are Chris Van Allsburg, Maurice Sendak, David Wiesner and Paul O. Zelinsky. Happily, I can now call the last two friends. All of them created illustrations that showed such technical prowess while pulling you into their stories. I strive to do the same.
|Soap Soap Soap by Elizabeth O. Dulemba|
There’s so much food for thought here that I, for one, can’t wait to get started. If you want to join us on May 7th in Edinburgh, you can buy a ticket via this link. Hurry, though, there are only a couple of spaces left!
|Elizabeth O. Dulemba|
M Louise Kelly lives in Edinburgh and is working on Rules of Sail By, a
coming of age novel set in Valparaiso, Chile, the Antarctic and Scotland.
She's also written historical YA fiction. When she's not writing and being
the joint Co-ordinator for the SCBWI Southeast Scotland Network with Sheila
M Averbuch, she teaches Psychology for the Open University. She's
represented by Lindsey Fraser at Fraser Ross Associates.