In our March/April 2017 issue, reviewer Susan Dove Lempke spoke with Chris Raschka about his free-spirited paintings for a new illustrated edition of John Keats’s A Song About Myself. Read the full review.
Susan Dove Lempke: Your free-flowing illustrations are a perfect match for this type of child-friendly poem, which follows a form but seems so spontaneous and carefree. How do you maintain that improvisational feel?
Chris Raschka: How do you keep your painting light, not overwrought, when you know as you are working that what you do will be printed and bound between two cloth and cardboard covers, and will stand staunchly on shelves, here or there, for at least a year or two? I struggle with this question every day. My answer is this: I like to see the stroke of the brush — the immediate stroke of the brush. Here’s a dictum for myself: there shall be no servant brush strokes. Each stroke must be as proud to land on the paper as any other. Another answer is: when I’m in doubt, I turn the work upside-down, which I did a lot of in this book. The last answer is: get yourself away from what you think the image should look like, and instead see what the image, as it grows, does look like.