Anna Levine and Chiara Pasqualotto's ALL EYES ON ALEXANDRA

Anna Levine visited my blog quite a while back with her novel Freefall. Well, she has a new picture book out, ALL EYES ON ALEXANDRA about a migrating crane for Kar-Ben Publishing, and this time I get to talk to her illustrator Chiara Pasqualotto. (You'll want to check out her super-interesting blog!) I'm sure you'll love her gorgeous watercolors as much as I do!
e: I love your abstract approach to creating atmosphere, sky, and land - it’s so ethereal and yet it really works! How did this method come to you and how do you go about creating it?
Chiara:
Well, when I start working on a new book I usually look for real pictures in internet or copy scenes from real life -animals, people and landscapes- I make a folder in my PC and then I start sketching.
Then I start to work on the storyboard and actually only at that point I really choose how to draw the images and their composition. So, maybe you are right when you say that it is a process of abstraction: I start from 'our' reality to create the book reality :)
I learnt this way of bilding up a book starting from real life from one of my teachers, the Spanish illustrator Arcadio Lobato, who was at first a biologist and has a realistic approach to illustration. I was in a couple of Summer intensive courses with him in the North-West of Italy many years ago: with the class we went around rice fields with our sketchbooks for drawing the landscape and farm animals from real life. It was such a great experience... even if we were devoured by mosquitoes!
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Chiara:
I think you should 'feel' what you are illustrating. Sometimes when you have commissions it is not always easy to, as you have deadlines and not so much time to 'enter' in the book. And sometimes you may not like the subject too much. So you have to find a way to love what you are illustrating anyway. More books you make, more fluid becomes the process. And when I draw animals -like in this book- it comes really easy to me!
e: How do you advertise yourself?
Chiara:
I have a blog (chiarapasqualotto.blogspot.com) and each time a new book comes out I create a page for it in my Facebook. I like to promote my books with interviews (blogs and radios, but not TV!) if it happens, and also with presentations in bookshops and libraries. When I present the book the librarians or bookshop vendors sometimes organize workshops for children where I teach them how to draw animals. I love book-signing and children questions!
Besides this, every year I go to Bologna Children Book Fair in order to find new contacts or to meet publishers that I already know.
Up to February I also had been collaborating with an American Agent for three years, and now I am looking for a new one.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Chiara:
I love the fact that in making illustrations you create a new reality, where a bear can plant his flowers in his garden and a raccoon can sadly find that her fridge is empty. And after that you have drawn it, it becomes real.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Chiara:
I am going to start a very nice project with a French publisher, but it is really at the beginning and I cannot say much yet (I just have the text and some sketches done).
 &nsp;  &bnsp; In the future I would really love to make a book with etchings; I have been attending a two-year intaglio school and I really love the whole process, so I'd love to find a publisher who appreciates the quality of hand-made work and doesn't make me rush, but this is very rare: some sometimes are even complaining that I do everything by hand!
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