Just Enjoy the Pictures: Hand-Crafted Versus Digital Art

Baby Bear Sees Blue

Raise your hand if you find it challenging to determine the media used for picture book illustrations today. Even before computers, art labeled “mixed media” left readers scratching their heads over how the pictures were rendered. Increasingly challenging in today’s digital world is ascertaining whether picture book art is hand-crafted or computer-assisted. For Caldecott committee […]

Studio Views: Pen, Ink, Watercolor, Repeat


I began my illustration career with black and white work. I was much more of a drawer than a painter, much more comfortable with line than with color. One of the things that attracted me to the combination of pen-and-ink and watercolor back then was that watercolor’s transparency allowed me to create color pieces while […]

Studio Views: A New Freedom


I began using ink and watercolor at a time when I was trying to break some of the rules I learned during a very good but rigid high-school art education. The studio I attended was based on a classical master/apprentice model. My teacher was blunt: he wasn’t teaching you to be an artist; he was […]

Studio Views: What a Find!


A long time ago, long before I could call myself a bookmaker, I was just a lowly college student in Ann Arbor working toward my degree in art from the University of Michigan. I like to tell people, though, that my real education came from a ramshackle bookstore a few blocks off campus called Kaleidoscope […]

Studio Views: For the Fear of Failure


I don’t like to experiment. I know it sounds timid and uninspiring, but I’m just being honest: I don’t like to experiment because I am afraid of failure. But at least two times in my life — at the very beginning of my artistic life — I found enough courage and determination to take risks. […]

Studio Views: Gliding on Paper


I have been asked to write about my favorite medium, and I happen to be writing this after a night in the studio wherein I was ready to throw my favorite right out of the window. Loving art supplies can be a little like loving family — unconditional, mysterious, and often lacking a clear understanding […]

Studio Views: Paint & Pixels


The standard advice young artists receive is that they must establish a consistent “style” (a word that encompasses a choice of medium, technique, manner of drawing, and problem-solving approach). In general I think this is very good advice, but I’ve never been able to settle down with one set of materials and one technique for […]

Studio Views: My Next Medium


When I was growing up in Mexico, pencil, eraser, and paper were my media — and my favorite technique was copying. Copying gave me guidance, and the results from moving the pencil across the paper constantly amazed me. The more lines I drew, the more things appeared in front of my eyes. It was like […]

Studio Views: Push the Paint


My favorite medium — that’s a tough question. I suppose it depends on whether we’re talking about media with respect to bookmaking or media in general. I never have a particular medium in mind when designing a book. The text really dictates what the medium should be. I’ve used just about everything — oils, acrylics, […]

Studio Views: In Service of the Book

brown_mr tiger goes wild

If you look at the children’s books I’ve illustrated, you’ll notice that I like to experiment with different media. My early books were illustrated using acrylic paint, and then I incorporated gouache, and then I experimented with pencil and cut-paper and collage. I like to challenge myself, so I’m always playing around with different techniques. […]