Claudine: I create the illustrations by hand using soft pastels. I love the lushness of the colors and the freedom the medium gives me. I also used small quantities of gold or copper leaf. You can’t see their shininess in the printed book but it I think they add an interesting effect.
Laurie: What was the hardest thing about this project?
Claudine: I would say that making the animals realistic enough while also creating interesting artistic stylizations was my biggest challenge. It’s a fine balancing act.
Laurie: For me it was choosing which animals to use—the mix of familiar and different; covering the three survival strategies (hibernate, migrate, tolerate) equally, but showing a variety within each method, etc. It was like a logic puzzle!
Claudine: With each new project I do I try to loosen up my style with the aim of keeping it fresh. With each new project I feel that I am able to evolve and make progress.
Laurie: This was the first time I had backmatter that not only gave further details about each animal in the book but also gave an overview explanation of a large topic like winter survival. There was a lot of information to work into three pages.
Claudine: It is hard to choose! I find I have many favorites as I turn the pages. This being said the one I painted first, the bear, might be my favorite. I enjoyed painting the colorful Fall forest and that bear looks so cozy and peaceful in his winter habitat.
Laurie: For me, I think it’s the moose. I just love the abundant, colorful mood on the left side, when it’s fall, and then the wind blowing and the steam coming out of its nostrils on the right side. It totally captures the different atmosphere of the two seasons.
Laurie: I have two text changes I’d make. Here’s one: On the chipmunk spread, it says,
Hide away seeds as your winter stash grows. [fall]
Nap all curled up with your tail to your nose. [winter]
I think I would change that to:
Hide away seeds as your winter stash grows.
Doze curled up with your tail to your nose.
Laurie: Which detail made you think, “Ah, that came out exactly like I wanted it to”?
Claudine: The blurring on the hummingbird wings! I painted the wings standing still but they looked wrong; you never see the hummingbird wings in real life. After digitalizing the image I blurred it on a computer.
Laurie: For me, it’s my bear text:
Gobble up acorns and beechnuts by streams. [fall]
Snooze through the winter in hazelnut dreams. [winter]
Laurie: Anything else funny or strange or surprising you’d like to share about the process of this book?
Claudine: My son, 7 years old at the time, would often come to see me in my studio while I was working on this book. He gave me very accurate & helpful comments on my drawings. Listening to so many animal documentaries made him quite an expert!
Laurie and Claudine