Original Art Show for Children’s Books

A recap of the show and an inside look at how an illustrator makes their work

On Thursday October 24th, I attended the opening for the 31st Annual Society of Illustrators Original Art Show for Children’s Books. Amy June Dates chaired along with her co-chair, Sophie Blackall, and they produced an an amazing show.  Its a night were everyone that works in children’s books comes together to celebrate the medium and the books that are honored to be in the show. It is a rare experience to see so many works of children’s book art in one place.

“The Original Art Show blurs the identities and boundaries of sometimes separate worlds of art and Illustration. A work of art made to hang on a wall or occupy a space. In contrast, an illustration for a children’s book is painted to be printed. The original illustration refers us to the book and then the story told with in,” explains Amy Bates. To be included in The Original Art, books must be selected by illustrators, art directors, editors, and experts in the field. This year’s show features 150 books chosen from 590 entries submitted nationwide.

ABRAMS  had the honor of having six books chosen for the show.

1. The Crows of Pearblossom by Aldous Huxley and Illustrated by Sophie Blackall


2. I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn and Illustrated by Julia Denos


3. Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The stor Sarah Edmonds a Civil War Hero By Marissa Moss and Illustrated by John Hendrix


4. To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure


5. Over At the Castle by Boni Ashburn and Illustrated by Kelly Murphy


6. A Mango in the Hand: A Story Told Through Proverbs by Antonio Sacre illustrated by Sebastia Serra


Ever wonder how your favorite illustrator makes their work?  One of my favorite illustrators, Marcellus Hall, recently posted on his blog the process that he goes through to make his original art for his next book, Because You Are My Teacher by Sherry North. This title is a follow-up to their two previous books Because You Are My Baby, and Because I Am Your Daddy (both where pass selection in the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show for Children’s Books). This book chronicles the adventures of a teacher and her students traveling the world.


Below is a brief look at the process Marcellus goes through to make his original art.

1. He sends in many different versions of the same page. All very lose and full of energy to get a compositional idea across. Sketch (on 9×12″ sketch paper) keeping in mind where two lines of text will be and the “gutter” (where the two pages meet).

2. Marcellus consults various sources and reference.

3. A color study is made.

4.  He then Enlarges his line drawing on 20 x 10″ vellum.  Marcellus Re-draws the vellum image onto Arches 140lb cold-pressed watercolor paper using graphite transfer paper. Then he applies waterproof brown “Calli” ink with No.2 Utrecht 228 Series Sablette brush. Adding dark blue lines – a mixture of Dr. Ph Martin’s concentrated watercolor, Speedball Super Black India ink, and water.

5. The final coloring begins

6. Only 13 more spreads to go!

Being a part of this process makes this job so much fun!

Because You Are My Teacher will be available where books are sold in Spring 2012. 

Chad Beckerman is Creative Director for Abrams Books for Young Readers, Amulet Books and Abrams ComicArts. Check out Chad’s blog: Mishaps and Adventures

on Friday, November 4th, 2011
in Children's Books
tags , , ,

  •   Share this on Facebook.
  •   Tweet this on Twitter.
  •   Send to a friend.
  •   Share this.
  • Pin It