Author-illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton stops by today to talk about her latest adorable picture book “Bub.”
I first met Elizabeth last September at the Highlights workshop I attended. She shared her first two books “Henny” and “Peddles” and hinted of more things to come with a cute little green character in overalls. That day has finally arrived.
Elizabeth is funny, charming, and very giving of her time and talents. She shared the most finite details of her particular craft (her favorite tools, secret watercolor techniques, etc.). It was liberating to meet someone who was willing to share the nitty gritty of their process! I find those kinds of insights endlessly valuable. Plus she is in love with cats (what couldn’t I love about a fellow cat lover?), especially Scottish fold cats as she has three of them. There is even a Facebook page for her cat Bea. Love, love, love! You can learn more about her at her website, her book’s web page or on one of the following social media sites:
- Instagram: @elizabethrosestanton
- Twitter: @ElizRoseStanton
- Facebook: facebook.com/PenspaperStudio
- Blog: penspaperstudio.blogspot.com
“Bub” is her third book and the watercolor is as gentle and appealing as ever. Here is a story of a monster who is the middle child. He is constantly ignored by his family and he grows tired of it. But you have to see the illustrations to understand how sweet and magical this story really is (and if you go to the book’s web page, you get a much closer look at the first few pages of the story).
Welcome to my blog Elizabeth!
Thanks for having me!
Me: What was your artistic journey? When did you start drawing?
Elizabeth: Like every little kid, I liked to draw. But I have to say I actually had a “moment” when I was about twelve years old when I was up late one night, and I decided to copy a photo from a magazine. I abstracted it and came up with what I thought at the time was a remarkable likeness to what I was looking at. It was very empowering, but I had no idea what to do with it.
Me: How did you get started as an illustrator?
Elizabeth: The path has been long and circuitous! I spent years “nibbling around the edges” of illustration by pursuing portraiture, fine art, and scientific illustration; and, of course, being trained as an architect back before computer aided design certainly helped. But I have to say I didn’t really consider myself truly an illustrator until I got my first book deal.
Me: This is now your third picture book as both an author and an illustrator. What part of the process came first: writing or drawing? Would you say that’s probably your method now? Which did you find more challenging for this project?
Elizabeth: When I started, it made sense to me to illustrate my own writing. That said, my characters always come first, and they always manifest as a drawing, rather than a story idea. For Bub, I think the illustrations were a little more challenging, but I have to admit, if you’d ask me when I was writing, I would have said that was the hard part. It all depends on where I am at any given moment.
Me: Do you have any future plans for another book with Bub? Any sequels with his other family members? What about with the cat (I know how partial you are to cats)?
Elizabeth: No plans for a sequel yet, although I do have thoughts about it. I think first-borns and babies need attention, too, don’t you? Oh, and the cat! Someday I will do a cat book, and maybe it will have blue stripes!
Me: What is one thing that surprised you in writing this story?
Elizabeth: I think I would have to say it was the realization I came to about the depth of emotion I really do have about the plight of some middle children. There were two in my family, and Bub is based on one of them . . . my brother. He was sandwiched between sisters with strong personalities, and he so often got lost in the shuffle, so to speak. Basically, I decided to empower Bub. It was, in the end, a very personally satisfying book to do.
Q: Any advice for new picture book writers and/or illustrators?
Elizabeth: The usual: Keep at it. Don’t give up. Read everything about picture books you can get your hands on, from books about picture books, to the books themselves. Keep taking classes in art and book making, if you can. OH! And here’s a plug for just such a class: I will be on the faculty again at The Highlights Foundation for the Illustration Intensive Workshop coming up this July, AND my co-faculty includes this year’s Caldecott winner, Matthew Cordell, and the talented and award-winning Mike Curato.
Q: Oh wow! EXCELLENT news! Wouldn’t I love to be there again with you all? (What an amazing learning opportunity dear readers!)
There are a series of six pictures hanging on the wall in the background of several of the scenes in this book: one is of Henny (your first book), one is of Peddles (your second book), one looks related to Bub’s family, and 3 others are unidentified. (I love these and their reactions throughout the story, by the way!) Are there any potential spin-offs in those portraits? Any characters we haven’t met yet but will meet in the future?
Elizabeth: Thanks for noticing! I’d like to say here that so many adults don’t really read or look at picture books carefully, so I appreciate that you are such a thorough observer! As for the characters in the portraits, they are simply the kind of “family and friends” I imagined Bub’s family would have: Uncle Frank, Grampa, and why not an Alfred Alien or Cousin Blob?
Regarding any characters we haven’t met . . . I have many! But the one I am the most focused on now is Cowie, the titular character of my next picture book with Simon & Schuster. Cowie, another farm animal, will be the third companion to Henny and Peddles (and will make Bub truly the “middle child” of my books!).
More excellent news! I can’t wait to read “Cowie.” Dear readers, if you haven’t had a chance yet to read any of Elizabeth’s books, you must track them down. The illustrations are as sweet as the ones you see here. There is a hen born with arms instead of wings and a pig with a penchant for shoes, as well as Bub.
And if you’re interested in being an illustrator, I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful the retreat at Highlights was for giving me direction, guidance, and support with my own work. And you can go meet Elizabeth there yourself! It’s an incredible experience in a wonderful location. I highly recommend it. <3