Mike Wohnoutka's LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER - Interview and Giveaway!

Mike Wohnoutka has a new book out and I’m thrilled to have him on dulemba.com today. His latest is called LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER and it will melt your heart as surely as the little puppy melts the monster’s heart. I’ve always loved Mike’s artwork anyhow - especially in JACK’S HOUSE, MAMA’S LITTLE DUCKLING, and THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN MINNESOTA (I did the Georgia one). Let’s get a peek at his process...

Q. Mike, I love to study your work. I think I see you working with under paintings in scarlet or other colors. Am I seeing right? What is your method?
Yes, I always start my paintings with an orange/sepia tone under painting. This helps me figure out the lighting situation. It’s much easier to do this by using all the values of just one color. This technique also adds continuity and warmth to the overall painting.

Q. Your use of light is always so warm and friendly - how do approach that?
Thank you. I’ve always struggled with color. I was told once by a fellow artist to approach painting thinking about values rather than colors. This approach has helped immensely and has made me a more confident painter. It keeps me thinking about what’s being hit by light and what’s not. This gives the painting a lot of volume and I think it gives a warm and friendly feeling too.

Q. I also admire how you switch up the viewers point of view. Again, how do you approach that?
I took a film history class in college. I loved learning about Alfred Hitchcock’s process of creating films. He was one of the first directors to change the point of view of the camera to add tension and create suspense. When I work on the sketches for a book I like to think of myself holding a camera moving around the scene looking for the best angle and view to show each scene in the story. I’m also thinking about zooming in and out.

Q. LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER is such a sweet story - what inspired it?
After illustrating 20 books by other authors this is my first book as both illustrator and author. It’s hard to say exactly where the idea for this book came from, because it evolved through many, many different versions over five years. But there is no doubt that watching my two young kids navigate their way through the maze of making new friends has influenced the story. Also, I’ve realized since finishing it, that it may have been somewhat inspired by my inattentive father!

Q. I have to tell you, the puppy reminds me a little bit of my dog, Bernie - an overgrown beagle or short foxhound - we’re not sure. But with the same markings. Is Little Puppy a real dog in your world?
My first roommate out of college had a dog named Ryder. She was a very small basset hound. Everyone thought she was a beagle mix. The look of the puppy was inspired by her, but definitely not her personality. She was a very mellow dog. She definitely didn’t have the energy the Puppy in the book has.

Q. You’ve got quite the bibliography of books at this point. Do you work with a particular publishing house?
I do not work with one particular publishing house. I’ve been working consistently with four different houses. I would be happy to stick with just one publisher, but when I’m asked to illustrate a book, my decision to take on the project has more to do with the story rather than the house.

Q. How do you advertise yourself (or do you need to)?
I have a website (www.mikewohnoutka.com). When I was first starting out I would bombard publishers with samples of my work. I would also go to every SCBWI conference. I don’t do those things nearly as much any more. One thing I do, which I feel is extremely helpful, is I try to go to New York as often as I can. Meeting with publishers and putting a face to your work, making those personal connections, is a wonderful way to promote yourself. My first trip to New York in 2006, to show my portfolio, was one of the best things I ever did for my career.

I had a launch party at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN. I also, painted a 10 foot tall monster on their window. (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.) It was a roaring good time.

Q. What’s next in the pipeline for you?
I recently finished the illustrations for the second book that I am the author of. It’s a story that was inspired by my son, Franklin, starting school and how difficult it was, not so much for him, but for me! It’s titled DAD’S FIRST DAY and is scheduled to be published Fall 2015 by Bloomsbury. Also, the MOO! board book is also coming out on November 4th!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Holiday House has kindly agreed to give one free copy of LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:


bn100 said...

This looks cute

apple blossom said...

This sounds like a cute book thanks for the chance to win

apple blossom said...

I'd love to win this so I can share it with the students I teach. thanks

AnimalAuthor said...

Love the huge monster you painted for your launch party--hope it was a big success!

Wendy said...

Mike illustrated the Toni Buzzeo books I reviewed for perfect picture book Friday! I am excited to read this one.

Anonymous said...

I have some Children that would love to read this

Stephenie said...

What a great looking monster! And a cute little puppy too! My children will love this story!