Have you ever been to a workshop where you went in expecting one experience and then were blown away by a totally different one? At the Tucson Festival of Books last weekend I went to a workshop by award-winning children’s book illustrator Molly Bang, mainly to hang out with a friend. I expected the workshop to be a discussion of some of Bang’s recent works. Instead it was a mind-blowing hands-on lesson in how to create emotion in illustrations based on her book, Picture This.
In the workshop Molly Bang went over some fundamentals about how to build a scary picture versus a soothing picture using simple shapes of different colors. She then gave the members of the audience the opportunity to apply the ideas by making our own illustrations using four colors of construction paper. Afterwards she assembled all the works on the floor and we got to see the multitude of ways the techniques came together.
Surprisingly, even though I have no aspirations to become a children’s book illustrator, I found many of the things applicable to my own recent writing project. I could see how our visceral responses to color, shape and relative positioning of objects could be elicited through words as well as art. It was fascinating!
Molly Bang is known for her children’s books, but Picture This: How Pictures Work is written for adults, particularly those interested in the arts. It is so popular that Chronicle Books is releasing a 25th Edition version in the Fall of 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon here.
Brief Bio: Although her mother had studied medical illustration, Molly Bang didn’t take up illustration until after trying several other careers, including a degree in French and a reporting stint that ended when she was fired. She started illustrating folktales, and later branched out into writing her own stories. Her work with children’s books has led to numerous awards, including Caldecott Honors. Recently has written several science books, and in 2010 Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life won the AAAS/Subaru SB & F Prize for Excellence in Science Books.
Molly has a wonderful discussion of how Picture This came about on her website. I really appreciate her insight that since she didn’t feel she understood something, she taught a class about it. I agree that in addition to being an expert on a topic, teaching can be a wonderful way to force you to gather and organize materials on a subject, as well was get feedback from the students. It’s a two-way process.
She also has a free manual to download: How to Write a Hero/ine Adventure Journey Folktale: A Manual for Teachers of Grades 8 and 9
See more of her books at Molly Bang’s Amazon Author Page.