This morning we met the illustrator of the cover for Yolanda's Genius, in addition to many other well-known titles. Raul Colon's earliest memory of drawing in his family's New York City apartment was drawing a tractor-trailer at age 4. During his childhood, he struggled with asthma and thus missed alot of school. During those times, he absorbed and studied comic books, particularly Marvel Comics, and specifically Spiderman.
His family moved to Puerto Rico--thinking that this may improve his health. It was in Puerto Rico where he studied art with Mr. Cortez. When the family moved to Florida, Colon spent 10 years working with the Instructional Television Center where he learned the crafts of puppetry, animation and set-building.
In 1988, Colon returned to New York City to begin his career in illustration. He spent time with Sony Records, New York Times and Business Week. While doing conceptual art for the corporate world, Colon was contacted by an editor about illustrating children's books. His first children's book was entitled Always My Dad. This was followed by My Mama Had a Dancing Heart. His poignant book Tomas and the Library Lady was based on a true story.
Colon shared with the audience his secret to his textured technique. He begins the painting with a gold wash. Then he does the sketch and adds warm sepia colors. At this point, he uses a "scratcher" to get the textured effect. This is followed by adding color with colored pencils. The finished product definitely has a unique and appealing look!
We were then introduced to Keith Graves, whose mantra is "Fun is what it's all about!" He has been described as a visually entertaining illustrator. Keith is originally from New Orleans. He migrated westward and ended up in Austin, Texas. where he resides with his wife and thirteen-year old twins. He shared with us that his favorite childhood book was Curious George.
In addition to writing and illustrating children's books, Graves composes songs, poetry and stories. He loves monsters and horror. One of his favorite movies is The Young Frankenstein.
From this came the idea for Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance. He even included a dance diagram on the endpapers of the book. Graves also likes outer space.
Graves paints with acrylics and uses Prism colored pencils and occasionally oil paint on the top layer. His current project is a spoof on the Chicken Little tale.
This afternoon, Peter Brown had us in hysterics by sharing some embarrassing moments which served as the inspiration for his first children's book Flight of the DoDo. After growing up in the countryside in Hopewell, New Jersey, Brown traveled to the west coast to attend the Art Center College for Design in Pasadena, California. He now resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Brown's first book which he created as a child, was inspired by a sad incident with a happy outcome. When the family dog, Buffy, ran away, Brown's mother suggested he express how he was feeling, so he made a book about this. Fortunately, Buffy showed up at the front door the next morning.
Brown described his art style as a combination of a Pixar look with a naive drawing style. While in high school, he had aspirations of working for Disney. Because of this, he did many animal sketches. When Brown moved to Brooklyn, he was lonely and thought he wanted a dog. While sitting in a coffee shop one day, a bull dog came meandering in by itself. The independence of this dog inspired his book Chowder.
Brown's latest book A Curious Garden was inspired by an abandoned railroad station, The Highline, where nature was taking over man-made places in an unlikely way. Brown photographed this and noticed in his world travels how gardens sprouted up in unlikely places. This book has actually inspired school children to create gardens around their schools.
Floyd Dickman shared "Picture Books Worth Noting." Many of these were hot off the press.