Sunday, November 2, 2014

Granbery Elementary's 3rd Grade Classes Learn About What An Illustrator Does

Last week I visited Ms. Davis and Ms. Hill's 3rd grade classes at Granbery Elementary to talk about what an illustrator does. I'm just tickled pink that 3rd graders have this as part of their curriculum. I'm equally happy that the book they read, What Do Illustrators Do by Eileen Christelow, does not cover how much caffeine illustrators consume. They'll find that out sometime in art school.

So while we didn't talk about coffee and Mountain Dew, we DID talk about how illustrators are special because they tell stories with pictures. I showed them how I use expression and point of view to do this. Then they got to work on their own illustrations from Jack and the Beanstalk. 

First they wrote down what details stood out to them in the story and then they sketched out the scene. They were VERY involved in their drawings! This is my favorite part of school visits. I walked around and watched 36 separate illustrations of the same scene emerge. At the end all the kids wanted to share their scene and they very generously let me take their drawings to share on my blog. Here they all are laid out on the floor of my studio:

When I had a chance to look at all the pieces together I noticed that there were similar themes in approach. Some of the kids went whole-hog for showing the entire huge Giant:
I just love these giant Giants and their word balloons.

Check out the fantastic minimalist leaves on the bean stalk.

This illustrator doubled down - not only a huge Giant
but also giant sized furniture.

Great detail and styling on this Giant.

Others chose to imply the Giant's size by showing only his feet or legs:

I actually love the expressions on this one -
zoom in to see Jack's completely freaked out face,
which is in great contrast to the uber happy sun.

This hairy warty foot screams Giant. 

It took me a second of staring at the fascinating geometric patterns
in this Giant's lair before I realized the point of view is actually overhead!
Here the Giant enters from the top and Jack runs away toward the viewer.

Still others focused on the relationship between Jack and the beanstalk itself:

With this one we talked about how the action in a picture book
usually proceeds from left to right. UNLESS you want to stop
the action and get the reader's attention….
like say when a giant is chasing the main character.

Jack truly looks outmatched in this piece with both the giant
and the beanstalk towering over him.
I can just hear him squeaking out "help!"

In the end I told them there's no wrong way to illustrate the scene… one of the great things about being an illustrator is that you are never wrong! It's all about your own interpretation of the story.

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