Friday, January 13, 2012

A how-to from Jan Brett

Okay, so I don't know if you remember that whole Jan Brett book signing.  I mean, I haven't talked about it much, only here and here.  And, Robyn mentions it here.  You know, we aren't hyped about it or anything. 

Well, I have been wanting to tell you more about it (because clearly 3 other posts mentioning it isn't enough.)  Seriously, it was really cool.  See... 

First, there was Hedgie...

Great right?

And then of course Jan Brett!  Lovely!  Actually, I am some sort of huge nerd because when she signed my book I was all gushy and telling her how I have this blog with my friend and she's going to be the first author we feature.  Anyway, she was so polite (probably thought I was a loon) and said, "Well thank you, that makes me feel fantastic."  Then me, nerd again, I said, "Well you make us feel fantastic!" (Which she does, right, but who says that?) 

Anyway, before I got starstruck, Jan Brett shared some fun illustrating tips.  Apparently she wanted to be an illustrator since kindergarten.  It was great, especially for all those kids there who are growing up reading her books. 

So, if you have a budding artist in the house, pull them over to the computer and see what a real life author and illustrator had to say about drawing... 

#1- The most important part of the face to focus on drawing is the eyes.
Jan Brett said that is where you see the emotion, so that should be your focus.  She did a fun little game.  She'd cover up all of her face except her eyes and the kids would have to guess her expression.

Jan Brett doing sad...

And happy.. doesn't this silliness make you love her even more?

#2- Use a mirror to capture the expressions.  
She said sometimes when things just aren't coming out right, she will get a mirror and put it by her table so she can make the expression in the mirror in order to get a better handle on it.  

#3- If you're stuck, don't be afraid to put it away for a while.
This is so great coming from a real life illustrator! Even she gets stuck.  According to the woman herself, when she is doing artwork for a book it takes her about an hour to do a square inch!  Wow!  But, if she feels frustrated she'll stop for a while and that allows her to come back and see it with fresh eyes.  

#4- Keep drawing and watch yourself improve!
Jan said to draw something and save it.  Then keep practicing and after a while draw that item again and compare the two.  You'll see how much you've improved!

This is actually the tip my daughter remembers the most.  She always brings it up when she's drawing now. "Look Mom, Jan Brett was right, I keep drawing and I really am getting better!"  

As you can see, Jan demonstrated how to draw a moose.  (I feel weird calling her just Jan and not Jan Brett, but I feel weird saying Jan Brett this and Jan Brett that-- I'm bumbling along here.)

Lucky for you, I don't have to explain the moose thing step by step because you can watch her doing this yourself.  She has about a dozen how to draw videos on her website.  (There's everything from a hedgehog how-to, to drawing a creature of the deep.)

She also shared about the brand of markers she was using and recommended these if kids are really interested in art.  They are called Prismacolor and they are double tipped, one side with a fine point and the other side thicker. 

I priced them on Amazon and a set of 12 was around $30.00 (so, they might need to be kept on the high shelf if you do purchased some-- and I mean the high shelf that the toddler still can't reach, even if they pull a chair over in order to be able to stand on the counter. Not that that's ever happened, just sayin'.)

Okay, there you have it, no more gushing about seeing Jan Brett (well, I am going post about a few other books of hers this month, but I promise to really try to limit the gushing.)  I just must leave you with a few final tidbits...

She had  a hedgehog purse to hold her markers (showed that photo here)!  She was wearing these fantastic shoes that looked a little like this...
 I have been kicking myself that I didn't get a picture of her shoes, because they were so cool-- so, yes, if you're wondering I found a picture online of some similar boots.  Robyn was totally making fun of me for this, but you've got to get the whole experience! They were exactly what you'd imagine some fancy Norwegian Carrie Bradshaw to be wearing. Just perfect!

Finally, (thanks for putting up with me)  she was really fun to see and a great motivation to get kids reading, writing, and drawing!! Loved it, as you well know!
Happy reading (and drawing)! -Whitney

PS- Here's her cool bus too! 

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