E.B. is a friend from way back. He also may recall did a workshop at Hollins U two summers ago. As such, I've seen him give wonderful tutorials and lessons to budding watercolor artists and can vouch for his excellent teaching first-hand. Of course, he's been doing it for a very long time, as his books have been winning awards and he's been in demand since he first started publishing. I'm thrilled to have him stop by to talk about his latest book, DARK WAS THE NIGHT, written by another creative friend who has visited this blog many times, Gary Golio. Take it away E.B.!
e: What was your creative process/medium for Dark Was the Night, can you walk us through it?
My medium for DWTN was watercolors-on-paper, using hues that were very different from the ones I usually use. My creative process is basically working with live models, and putting them in an authentic setting, with period costumes.
e: What was the investigative journey for Dark Was the Night?
My journey involved using research from libraries and online resources, and links that the author provided.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Dark Was the Night?
I teach at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), and I went to a student's home and photographed him as the adult Blind Willie Johnson. We took pictures inside and outside--with onlookers, which was great fun--and he posed with the guitar as Willie.
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?
What makes an illustration magical, for me, is working with the live model. Because I work to capture the soul and essence of the character, and try to find that expressed in the person I'm painting.
e: Did you know about Willie Johnson before you were asked to illustrate this book? What does his music mean to you?
I did not know about Willie before illustrating the book. The story, for me, is about what it takes to overcome hardship - that special thing that individuals possess, that helps them endure against all odds. Here's this man who was blind, and poor, and yet was able to find many positives in life - that's what makes his art special to me.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Being faced with a [visual] problem and coming up with a solution.
e: Is there something in particular about Dark Was the Night you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Yes - here's this person of color who becomes an example of what humanity is on earth, a representative of the whole human race.
e: Indeed!
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
My dream project is basically to complete a book that I have written and will illustrate--a story called Little Earl and the Search for Time—which is slotted to come out in 2022 with Penguin/Random House. Many thanks for the great questions!
e: Fantastic - I can't wait to see it! Meanwhile, watch a great video of EB at work on Youtube, click the image below.
Or seek out more of E.B.'s wonderful work such as:

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