Elizabeth Rose Stanton Shares True Confessions of a Picture Book Illustrator, Part 1

Jul 5, 2017 | Illustration

Elizabeth Rose StantonTrue Confession #1
I know we’re told not to but…I erase. A LOT.

Ergo, I have A LOT of erasers.

Here are some of them (I have even more, but it was getting embarrassing):
(You can tell the ones I like best; if one is good why not get five or six more?)

I can probably tell you about every kind of eraser made: I can tell you about thin ones and fat ones, soft ones and hard ones. I can tell you which ones run all buttery across the surface of the paper and which ones chew it up like little fanged beasts.

There are squishy erasers you have to knead like bread, and electric ones, like this behemoth we architects (yes, I used to be one) wielded back in the last century when we had to do everything by hand (yes, I’m that old). It weighs in at a whopping 1.8 pounds and requires a Herculean grip to control.

electric eraser
Rev this baby up and you could dig a hole to China!

But seriously, erasing, no matter how you do it, can be as liberating as not doing it.
I like to say erasing is like life…it’s all about making and correcting mistakes until it’s time to stop.

True Confession #2a
I love to color inside the lines.

I make lines, then I erase so I can make them just right so I can color inside them.

Works like a charm every time. Well, almost every time, but you get the idea:
line drawing

True Confession #2b
I also like thinking inside the box. It’s cozy, and comforting…and I can find things, like my erasers, which I keep in a box.

Come to think of it, even my characters like to think inside the box:

Elizabeth Rose Stanton art

“Henny tried to act natural, and fit in.” (From Henny Simon & Schuster 2014)

True Confession #3
I do it in the dark…and it’s messy.

My studio is in a slot in the basement. I call it The Trench. There’s no natural light and I lose my phone in it at least a couple of times a day.

Here’s a glimpse:
Elizabeth Rose Stanton's studio
But I’m lucky to even have a studio; I know people who have to make their illustrations on their kitchen tables or in coffee shops–so no excuses, people!

True Confession #4
I like to copy.

Mind you, I said copy, not steal. It’s an extremely powerful illustration tool.

Students have done it from time immemorial.
I like to call it riffdoodling. Riffdoodling is a perfect example of how being unoriginal can lead to something original. I usually do it when I’m procrastinating (dare I call it procrastiriffdoodling?). In fact, I was doing it when I thought up the titular character of my second picture book:
Peddles by Elizabeth Rose Stanton

Obviously there were a few more steps along the way, but I find “standing on the shoulders” of others, as they say, often gives me a better view of my own creative landscape, and I highly recommend it

Thank you to our faculty for this Guest Post!

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