Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Love Being an Illustrator...

I LOVE what I do...

Today was a wonderful reminder of why I love being a creative soul who makes pictures for her job.  It was an early morning and somewhat dicey weather as I left Moncton just after 6:30 to drive up to Chipman, New Brunswick for two days of school visits through our Provincial Writers In The Schools Program.  It  had begun to snow just as I got on the highway and roads got slippery about halfway there, but I took my time.  The scenery into rural New Brunswick was amazing as I drove past farm fields or forests of trees draped in snow.  Logging trucks coming the other way made me keep my eyes on the road.

I arrived at the school safely just after O Canada and had time before the scheduled class visits to do an enrichment session with a dozen of the children at the school who love to draw. What a treat to get them to practice using their imaginations with 8 different exercises.  I also swore them to secrecy about how tall I was...

When the first class came in, I was sitting down in front of the Smartboard on a chair and they arranged themselves on the carpet in the middle of the room.  I welcomed them, told them who I was and what I did for my job.  I explained that illustrators often have to draw things that don’t exist... like purple cows wearing roller skates... or a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a tutu.. or a hippo making a snow angel.  At that point, I explain how an illustrator needs to use their imagination and think about how things look.  I choose the smallest child in the class and ask them to come to the front of the world.

“Suppose a squirrel makes a snow angel...” I explain and I ask the child how they make snow angels.  I get them to stand with their arms out wide, ready to make a snow angel.  I explain that the squirrel’s tail would also make another part of the snow angel that humans don’t have in theirs.  Then I smile.  “I would be more of a GIRAFFE making a snow angel!” I say as I stand up from my chair....way up!  I am 6’5” without the heels and 6’8” with them.  I wave my long arms and legs about with a smile as the children gasp and the little victim.. er... volunteer stares up at me in amazement.  I send my “squirrel” back to their place and begin to ask them about hippos.  I explain that I can’t borrow a real hippo from the zoo, so I need to think about what makes hippos different as an animal.  Basically, they have tiny arms and legs, big noses and big bums.... so they make DEEP snow angels.  Then I show them the painting I did for my grandmother who loved hippos (I’ll add it to this blog once I get home).

The rest of the session is spend talking about how illustrators and authors come up with ideas by asking “What If?” and then, after the power point talk, I use my tablet to draw a quick, interactive doodle with each class where I give the kids crazy choices and they vote by raising their hands to guide what our picture turns out to be.

I save each class file as a .jpg and once I get home, I will redraw each class picture then resend it to the school to play with.

I really, really. REALLY love my job!

Tomorrow, I get to go speak to Middle and High school students about what is it like having a “nontraditional” career.... I can’t wait!