Hello! My name's Nataša Kaiser and today I want to tell you about my experience as a student in Lilla Rogers' very first online class about illustrating children's books.
Since I heard the rumor about an upcoming MATS class "Illustrating Children's Books" I wanted to be a part of it. I have taken various MATS classes until now and loved them all, one of the best parts is getting to be part of a wonderful artists community (and by the way that was also how I first got to know most of my fellow finches!). Not to mention the huge amount of information and insights about the market you get – really a lot to take in and absorb.
Illustrating for children has always been one of my big passions and most of the kid's books I've bought for my daughter I actually bought because I admire their art and simply wanted to own them (my daughter didn't mind me spending money on these books though).
So, the #matskidbook class is structured in 5 assignments over the course of five weeks. There are three different texts to choose from, in this class the texts were "The Owl and the Pussycat", "The Gigantic Turnip" and "Ada Lovelace" (written by Zoë Tucker, who is the Art Director at Lilla's side, giving all the specific insides about the market). I chose "The gigantic Turnip".
First week is about character development: The task is to determin the main character of the story and visualize it. The second week is about facial expressions and illustrating emotions. The third week we were dealing with our characters in different poses. Week four just ended today and the topic was "environment". Next and sadly last week will be dedicated to cover design and as such will also include some lettering exercises, which I'm really looking forward to! Alongside all the infos, videos, inspirational texts and images and artist's interviews we get a sketchbook prompt each day to get us into the habit of regular drawing.
Some sketchbook prompts of the first week were accessories for our characters e.g.:
I think it's so interesting how you really get to know your characters over time and by drawing them over and over. I feel like I can really see the development from week one to week four. The exploration of facial expressions and poses in particular fills them with life and the more you draw the same figure the more believable it becomes.
In week three we were on vacation in denmark. I was thinking about what poses to draw and my first idea was to illustrate some of the characters pulling the turnip. I had our friends posing for some reference pictures and even our dog became a photo model:
Eventually I decided to show the old man and woman as a couple in different poses for this assignment – but I'm looking forward to putting these reference images to good use at a later point in time.
This week (4) was all about the environment in which the story is taking place. The story about the gigantic turnip is an old russian folktale. My ancestors are from slovenia (former Yugoslavia) and as a child I spent all of my holidays there. My grandparents had a small farm in the picturesque slovenian countryside and I remember many details of the farmlife, that seemed pretty romantic to me as a child. My grandma used to plant and sow and also to harvest according to the moon calendar. That inspired me to draw the old man planting the turnip during a full moon's night. That might be the reaon why it eventually grew so enormous:
This class has been both very challenging and a whole heap of fun until now and I'm a bit sad that it's coming to an end next week. But there is still all of the material in the classroom to download and go through again, which I will certainly do. If you're interested in learning while connecting to a whole lot of great artists and shamelessly neglecting your household and other social life for the short period of five weeks I highly recommend enrolling in "Make Art that sells – Illustrating Children's Books". Have fun!