Sarah Frances Hardy's PAINT ME! - GIVEAWAY!
I remember attending the SCBWI national conference in Los Angeles many years ago and being welcomed at breakfast by Sarah Frances Hardy (and Katie Anderson) with a big hug. Considering I knew nobody else in the room and was destined to eat alone, I was so grateful. We’ve been friends ever since.
Back then, Sarah Frances wasn’t published yet. So I’ve been thrilled to watch her career take off, first with PUZZLED BY PINK (click here to read that interview) and now with her latest, PAINT ME! (Sky Pony Press). She and Katie even gave a great talk about breaking into the industry at the recent Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It’s always my honor to celebrate my friend’s successes, like today. SF (her email nickname) dropped by to talk to us about her latest book…
Q. SF - I know you puzzled over PUZZLED BY PINK for years. How long did it take you to come up with PAINT ME!?
A. There were lots of false starts after PUZZLED BY PINK, and the idea for PAINT ME! came to me in a funny way. I was talking to someone at a party who said, "I love your book PINK ME!" ... which of course wasn't the name of my first book. But he got me thinking along the lines of "pink me, green me, yellow me ..." Of course, I still had to come up with a story and sketch out the illustrations, but that was the jumping off place. Once I got going, it only took a couple of months (with some encouragement from my agent).
Q. It’s been so fun to watch you grow in your knowledge and skills, and turn around and share that with other budding creators. What did you learn between PUZZLED BY PINK and PAINT ME?
A. When I started my first book, I was still figuring out how to make the shift from fine art to illustration which was hard for me. With fine art, I can leave in mistakes and ambiguity as part of the finished artwork. With illustrations, I'm confined to the narrative and "happy little accidents" don't always work. I learned so much from working with Denise Cronin, the art director at Viking. She really pushed me to make each illustration as good as it could be, and she taught me to question every little detail that went into the pictures. The illustrations have to tell their own story, but they also have to be supported by the text. Now I try to imagine Denise looking over my shoulder while I paint to get me in the right frame of mind. I've also started digitally editing my paintings which has been a huge timesaver. I used to redo every single painting if something wasn't working. Now, I play with color and change things up on Photoshop after scanning in my original artwork. The only downside to this is knowing when to call it a day--it's tempting to keep editing forever and ever and ever.
Q. Is this an autobiography? (I suspect it is.) And what about the cute doggie with the purple beard?
A. Absolutely! I was just like that crazy, messy little girl. I dedicated this book to my mom "who cleaned up lots of spilled paint," and the dog in the book is based on my childhood pooch named Tam. [I've included his picture!]
Q. I love the joy of all the colors - the rainbow especially. It looks like it was a blast to illustrate, yes? What was your method?
A. I had so much fun illustrating this book. I mean, how often do we as adults get to sling paint around and call it our job?? I paint on Strathmore illustration board. It's wonderful and thick, so it doesn't warp, and it makes the colors really pop. For the color, I use a combination of gouache, watercolor pencils, watercolor crayons (these are my new discovery and they are yummy!), and pen. My favorite brush is a Winsor Newton #8 sable for big washes of color. I have a smaller sable brush for details.
Q. Sky Pony Press is a rather new player in the publishing world (an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing). How did the two of you come together?
A. My agent found them for me, and I have to say, my editor Julie Matysik has been fabulous. Plus, I'm thrilled with the way the physical book came together.
Q. How have you been celebrating the release of PAINT ME!?
A. I crammed in some school visits before school ended last month, and I've had several book signings at my favorite indies and paint parties (of course). My next book signing will be at Parnassus in Nashville on June 28th at 10:00.
Q. I hope you have more in the works… what’s next in line for you?
A. My next book DRESS ME! which is a companion book to PAINT ME! is coming out in the spring of 2015 from Sky Pony. I've also got several other books kicking around in my head, so we'll see ....
I wish you big fuzzy hugs and much continued success, SF!!
Sarah Frances has generously agreed to send a free, signed and dedicated copy of PAINT ME! to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below.