In addition to writing and illustrating, she is the illustrator coordinator for the Southern SCBWI region and on the board of the Georgia Center for the Book. She also teaches “Creating Picture Books” at the John C. Campbell Folk School.
I came across Elizabeth’s blog and website a couple years ago and was immediately hooked.Whether you’re an illustrator, writer, parent, librarian, or teacher, you’ll find a wealth of information and fun activities there. Every Tuesday she posts a new coloring page on her blog, and under the links section you’ll find a number of useful articles ranging from tips for building an easy website, how to host a virtual school visit, and articles on illustration methods. And that’s just a little bit of the goodies and helpful advice to be found.
In fact, she has a great blog post about redoing her office with before and after pictures. It’s one of the various things I had come across that gave me the idea for doing these Creative Spaces interviews in the first place. I highly recommend checking it out. (And totally agree about her comment on having a personal color palette. I think mine might be tangerine orange, yellow, and green. Or maybe burnt orange, rusty red, and olive. Hmmm. I’ll have to give this more thought.) Another fun fact that I learned about her is that you can find her dog Bernie hidden in the illustrations of each of her books. (She has two dogs but her books started selling once Bernie made an appearance so he’s the one with the lucky mojo.)
So now let’s step inside her office and find out more about Elizabeth’s workspace and process. . .
Since I went completely digital, my workspace has streamlined quite a bit. I don’t have a drawing table anymore, but a desk with two monitors on top and a huge computer to the side. It’s still a quirky, creative space though. I have big orange bookshelves, green furniture and lots of sunlight. It’s my fave spot to be.
I’m up early, but don’t claim consciousness until much later. So in the mornings I catch up on emails and trade info. That takes a few hours and lots of hot tea. I try to walk two miles with my dog at the track as often as possible, although it’s been a very wet winter–yay Spring! Then I dive into whatever project is screaming loudest–whether that be writing or illustrating. When hubbie gets home, we have dinner and then I draw (with a mechanical pencil and sketchpad mostly) on the couch while we watch tv. That’s actually turned out to be a great time to create my coloring pages or work on new dummies. About once a week I have lunch with friends–that keeps me sane.
I live mostly in Photoshop, although my more involved style requires Painter too. I have a Wacom tablet with touch sensitive mouse pen and dual monitors. It’s a pretty slick set-up.
I have a fantastic birdhouse hubbie bought for my birthday last year. And in a box, I keep a sculpture I did in kindergarten–the first real sign that I had skill. And my books–I’m surrounded by friends!
The hot tea thing is definitely a ritual. I buy loose tea from our local farmers market and make it in a coffee press–it’s good stuff and I drink it all day.
If I’m writing it has to be dead quiet to make up for being so loud inside my head! If I’m illustrating I often listen to audio books or watch hulu. It’s nice when I can do both within one day–mixes things up a bit.
There’s that tea thing again.
I have a hard time staying truly focused for more than four hours straight, so I allow myself breaks. Either a walk, a shower, even just washing my face and hands can help (especially in the summer). All of these things work wonders to get me back on track.
The blank page can be pretty daunting–especially when the vision in my head is EPIC! All I can do is start drawing and let it all slowly come together.
Oh that’s easy–my husband. We actually used to share a loft space. Our desks were on opposite sides of the room, but we still emailed each other. We’re such geeks and get along better than any two humans have a right to.
What is the best piece of illustrating advice you’ve heard or received?
I can’t say I stick to this, but the best advice is to always spend time creating things just for yourself. That’s where you experiment and grow, and often how you end up with your best portfolio pieces. Don’t only create for clients.