Julie Downing is ready to move to Findlay! She shared with us her appreciation for being surrounded with people who are enthralled with children's authors and book artists. According to Downing, she never intended to become an author/illustrator. However, the career blends her love for research and incorporates acting/movie directing. Growing up with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys brought out the detective in her. Playing with Barbie dolls enhanced her dramatic creativity. She shared that her love for reading also helped prepare her for what she is doing.
Downing has two teenage children, who frequently serve as models for her books. She also relies on photo images. Since she is allergic to animals, her family cannot have pets. So she puts pets in her books so she can enjoy them vicariously. According to Downing, she is drawing the same things now that she drew in kindergarten--animals, people, landscapes and snowscapes.
Illustrating and writing are all about revising. The illustrator needs to make the book move forward with the page turn being an important element. Downing utilizes a variety of media in her books, including watercolor, colored pencils, crayons, pastels and acrylics.
Q. What children's author/illustrator was born in the back seat of a New York City taxicab?
A. William Low! Apparently Low's parents never shared this information with their son until he needed a birth certificate and in the box for birthplace was the designation "en route." Low's father was outraged to receive a bill from the doctor who had played no role in the delivery. His father was a naturalized American citizen who returned to China and with a matchmaker's help, found the prettiest girl in her village. The family owned a laundry business in New York City and they spent alot of time people-watching. Low is still fascinated with the sights, sounds and smells of the city and appears to be a tourist when walking the streets of New York.
Low spent a great deal of time reading comics, particularly Spiderman, the Fantastic Four and Sergeant Fury and His Howling Commandos. He and his older brother made up their own comics, which was the beginning of his fascination for drawing.
Low was accepted into the High School of Art and Design where he was introduced to the great American classics. He admired N. C. Wyeth's powerful paintings and wanted to illustrate like him. He was also influenced by Edward Hopper's style. Low is now a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and teaches digital painting. He discovered that the golden ticket to the land of opportunity results from having a dream and working hard to achieve that dream.
Like Julie Downing, Stacey Schuett never intended to be an illustrator. Instead, she had aspirations of becoming a veterinarian. However, an incident with an injured animal changed her mind. She opted for a career that was less dangerous and not as messy. Schuett became an artist. Her grandfather had a great imagination. Since her family lived near her grandparents, she was able to spend a great deal of time with them when she was young. Her grandparents often framed her works of art and mounted them on their walls. Schuett was paid by her grandfather to paint Native Americans and she credits him for teaching her to be disciplined in using her time effectively.
With the encouragement of an editor, Schuett wrote Somewhere in the World Right Now. She relies more heavily on images in her memory than photographed images. Photos tend to make her feel stiff and she prefers using her imagination. Schuett loves painting animals. She uses a variety of media--oils, pastels, colored pencils, chalk, and some watercolor. She likes the depth of liquid acrylics. Her new medium is digital painting. Thus, her style is becoming simpler. She has tried her hand at doing a graphic novel since her children really enjoy Manga.
In her closing thoughts, she shared that kids need to be reminded that every artist was once just a little kid. Schuett wishes to affect kids they way she was affected. She lives by the creed that "perfection is over-rated!"