'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 17 May 2018

Meet the Illustrator: Kathy Creamer

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
My style is varied, from colourful cartoon to semi realistic.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
A daylight artist’s lamp, which is absolutely crucial, especially when working into the evenings. An endless supply of 2B pencils, a hardworking pencil sharpener and electric eraser, tubes of Windsor and Newton Artist’s Watercolour paints, and supplies of Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolour paper.  

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I love working with watercolour paint, even though it is one of the most difficult mediums to control. I love its transparency, the way it flows from the brush, and the happy accidents that sometimes add interesting textures and effects to the artwork in progress.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Shirley Hughes, because of her sensitive representation of the state of childhood and family that most children can relate to, as well as parents and grandparents of those children. Her warm and inviting illustrations give young children a sense of stability, comfort and kindness in today’s uncertain world.

Jackie Morris, for her wild, wonderful and lyrical depiction of nature. Her flowing colours create such atmosphere within her paintings, causing the viewer to almost sense the warm wind against their skin and the cool drops of sunshine-filled rain.

Graeme Base, for his lively, colourful and inventive imagery of fantastical animals.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I’d love to step back into 1848, at the time of the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I would visit and observe the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelites - William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti - as they created their exquisitely rich and colourful narrative artworks. Millais strove to produce the truth of nature in his paintings and often worked outdoors in all weather in order to capture that special light of day on his canvas. I have never used oil paints and would love to learn from a true master like Millais: to observe how he created the beautiful rainbow sky in The Blind Girl (1855), and the cold, glassy water slowly weighing down the voluminous dress and petticoats of the drowning, dying Ophelia(1852).

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
My husband, but mostly my children, who always wanted me to create picturebook stories just for them.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
When I first began my illustrative journey I worked on a battered old A3 drawing board propped up on a wobbly kitchen table. Things have improved since those days and I now have my own room crammed with books, paints, pencils, inks, a plan chest and two professional drafting tables, one A1 and the other A0.  I like to work in front of a window so there is plenty of natural light and I can look out over the garden area. I usually start work at 10am each day, after I’ve blitzed the housework and walked the dogs, and then, if I have a deadline to meet, I will work until 10 or 11pm. If I’m running short on time, then I’ll work right through the night. Chocolate and coffee breaks are frequent!

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
Definitely creating the storyboard and the first draft layout of the dummy book. This is when the ‘cooking’ begins, and I can try out all sorts of different ingredients with the story pacing in order to entice the reader to relish both words and pictures. I sometimes like to add extra spice and depth of flavour to the main story by having a separate little visual narrative running along in the background.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Study the creative work of your favourite illustrators. Look at how they use line, tone, texture and colour, examine the way they create movement and how they exploit white space. Keep a sketchbook and draw in it every day. Experiment and be adventurous, push those boundaries. Send your work out regularly to publishers and agents. Grow a thick skin. Enter competitions. Get a website. Believe in yourself! Never give up!

After having several picture books and a school reading series published by Oxford University Press, Kathy decided to study Children’s Illustration and Literature at university. She gained a BA Honours and a Masters Degree, and then emigrated to Australia, where she recently opened a children’s picture book publishing house with her husband.  
You can visit Kathy's website for more information.