Lita Judge & the Importance of Creative Play–Summer Conference Breakout Session

Author and Illustrator Lita Judge stressed the importance of “creative play” as it pertains to several stages in the written and visual development of a picture book.  http://www.litajudge.com/

Lita generously shared visual examples of her creative playing in preparation, exploration, research, composition, and color design in her books.  She mentioned that as her manuscript evolves, she’s always thinking of visual opportunities and pacing .  She often begins sketching realistic gesture drawings and then frees herself up to have fun with each subject, taking it as far as she wants to go in any direction.  The experimentation clarifies the boundaries of her scientific research and forces characters to become more anthropomorphic and thus, more expressive.

She suggested that play time is richer when she creates with no sense of whether anyone will ever see the work.  Just have fun! 

With her permission, I include three of her examples from a time when she spent three weeks drawing orangutans at the zoo and, even, had a chance to train them. 

The first is her photograph of her subject: yes, holding a book.

The first is her photograph of her subject: yes, holding a book.

The second is her sketch from the photograph.
The second is her sketch from the photograph.
The third is an expressive portrait that evolved from play.

The third is an expressive portrait that evolved from play.

 Some suggestions she had for acquiring the realistic research included “befriending archivists with cookies,” using fashion catalogues, work closely with archivists and librarians and use models dressed in appropriate costumes of the time period to sketch from live sittings.  She mentioned that she frees child models to act out a scene and, in their play, they often give her new insights, details, perspectives she hadn’t planned.  She suggested that images “can’t have too much detail,” even if not all of your images go into the book.

She said that she writes story lines across spreads before the art.  She also creates random compositions and paintings as studies without worrying about the final art.

In playful explorations, she creates thousands of very rough thumbnail sketches about 4″ x 6″.  In different stages she makes larger drawings, draws characters separately, scans them, and composes them together in Adobe Photoshop.    She prints the compositions out on watercolor paper and paints several color studies of each before selecting which one she prefers.  Then she makes a final draft painting before making the final painting.

She creates three books in a year.  Many of her books are purchased by school libraries.

Her art enraptured.  It was a blessing to view so many of her “play” pieces working out difficult decisions throughout the entire process.  Brava!

Karen Jo (Rockville, MD)

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~ by mdpictureit on September 9, 2009.

 
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