Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Illustrator Interview: Rebecca Malone


I'm so pleased with the illustrations for my text of Hug Hug! Rebecca's (Becky's) work is absolutely beautiful. I had to ask her a few questions to share the answers with you. So listen in with your totz...

Becky do you want to share your technique?

Sure, Lorie Ann! I use acrylic paint for my illustrations. First, I prepare an illustration board by coating it with two coats of gesso. When that is dry, I put a light coat of cadmium yellow paint over the whole surface to make sure that no white peeks through in the final painting. If some yellow peeks through that's ok -- I think it gives a nice warm feel to the finished illustration. The yellow background also helps me to keep my lights and darks in balance as I'm working.

I transfer my sketch to my prepared illustration board by rubbing the back of the sketch with a soft pencil. I then place it right side up on the board and trace over it.

Next comes the fun part -- putting on the color! I usually use no more than seven tubes of paint -- two blues, two reds, two yellows, and a white. I find that I can mix up almost any color I need with just those few tubes of paint.

Do you have a favorite spread?

Hmmm... I think maybe the owls ("Hugs in the dark.") -- they were fun to paint. I liked thinking about how safe and snug the babies would feel sleeping all together with their mom on that branch, listening to the night sounds in the cool forest air.

Lorie Ann: That's my favorite, too! And yet, I also love the curves of these dear chickens:

hugs with a peck

Can you tell us about the final painting in Hug Hug!?

Ok, now that one really is my favorite -- because the two people on that spread are me and my son! The stuffed animal that you see there was originally sketched out as a stuffed kitty -- which is my son's bedtime snuggle pal -- but the publisher asked me to change it to a bear. Every time my son looks at that spread he says, "Why didn't you tell them that I sleep with a kitty, not a bear?" -- I have to keep explaining to him that the publishers don't even know that the picture is of me and him... !!

Lorie Ann: And now they do!

Would you like to scan a preliminary sketch to share?

Sure -- here is my original sketch for that last spread of the book ("Hugs while we sleep."). You can see that the original is quite different from the final -- I showed more of the boy's bedroom... there was a lot more detail. I think the illustration that ended up in the book is successful because it really focuses in on what is important -- the mom and the son and the loving hug that they share.

Lorie Ann: I agree!

How will you celebrate Valentine's Day?
I hope to spend the day eating lots of chocolates and inhaling the perfume from the many bouquets of flowers that my husband will buy for me (Mike, if you're reading this... hint hint!).

Who are your favorite people or animals to share a hug with?

That's an easy one -- my husband Mike and my son Ryan are my favorite people to hug and to get hugs from. As for animals, the two that live with us -- our old chocolate lab named Grizz and our new little kitten named Friendly -- are my favorite animals to wrap my arms around.

Anymore books in the hopper?

As of this writing, I have three books under consideration with an editor and am working on a fourth that I hope to have ready to submit within the next few weeks -- it's a counting book featuring an omelette! No hugging in that one... ;^)

Do you have any websites/blogs to share so everyone can see more of your work?

Yes, thank you for asking -- my website is www.rebeccamaloneillustration.com -- if you check it out, you'll find more of my illustrations, some sketches, and even a few interior illustrations from "Hug Hug!".

Even Further Inside Scoop

Lorie Ann: Becky didn't know I had submitted a dummy to illustrate Hug Hug! But the publishing house felt her work was an even stronger fit for my text this round. Here's an illustration from my dummy. It always is so nice when the illustrator has the same vision. This was true throughout. Look at how similar our chickens are!

Many thanks to Becky for gifting my text with such beautiful art. Thanks to Little Simon for combining our strengths!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Randomly, I'll award a comment on this post on Valentine's Day with a copy of Hug Hug! Best to you each!

It's been so fun to see our work in Barnes & Noble this February. Woohoo!

Hug Hug!, by Lorie Ann Grover and Rebecca Malone, Little Simon, 2009


Z-Kids said...

Great behind-the-scenes info! And I always love to see people's sketches... Wonderful work!

The Busy Diva said...

That was so much fun to read!!! Lorie Ann--you are an amazing lady. I am now reading "Rainy Day Slug" to my 2 & 4 yr-olds, and my sister took it for read-aloud for her Pre-K class yesterday. Great!! I am AMAZED by how similar your illustrative visions were for this new book--thanks for sharing that!

Joan Holub said...

Lorie Ann--great inside scoop on Hug Hug! I really enjoy hearing and seeing how illustrators work. And how authors and illustrators work together. Fun!

Shelly B said...

Love to meet the person behind the work! Illustrations are usually my favorite part of children's books. I would love to win a copy of this one!

shelcows AT gmail DOT com

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Wow, it's so much fun to learn how the art comes together. Amazing!

Alex said...

That is so adorable! I think I'll head to Barnes and Noble today

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks to everyone for the awesome comments! Our random Valentine's winner is Noelle!

Want to zip me an email so I can send you a Hug Hug!?

Lorie Ann Grover said...

My email is:


Thanks, Noelle!