Friday, March 16, 2018

Creating a Wordless Picture Book

With Bernadette and friends, Peanuts Pañares and Totet de JesusOn Saturday, March 24, 2018 Bernadette Solina-Wolf’s rendition of the story I wrote, Sparrow Makes A Home (Lampara Books, 2014)  in a wordless picture book will be on exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Her illustrations (and I hope the manuacript too) on Sparrow Makes A Home is part of the art exhibit Peek-A-Book Children’s Book Illustrations by 13 Women Artists. In this interview, my dear friend Bernadette, shares her creative process in illustrating a a wordless picture book and tells her origin story in becoming an illustrator of children’s books.

1. How did you approach illustrating Sparrow Makes A Home since it was conceptualized as a wordless picture book?

 I imagined it like a comic book without the thought bubbles.

2. What makes it different from illustrating a children’s picture book or storybook with words? 

I really found it more challenging since I had to fill out all the gaps visually.  You see, in a storybook with words, there is more a give and take of the words/narrative of the author and images of the illustrator.  In a storybook with words,the writer can make make the transitions from page to page and the illustrator just makes sure the attention of the reader is captured and then supplements the text. In a wordless piicture book, the illustrator has all the responsibility to made a story/idea cohesive and yet visually exciting.

Sparrow Makes A Home is one of fhe 12 books in the Start Right Reading Series (STARS) for Kindergarten. The learning package includes a teacher’s guide and a parent’s manual. The STARS series is published by Lampara Books.

3. How long have you been illustrating books for kids? What changes in the industry have you observed that have made an impact on women illustrators?

I had the opportunity to illustrate children's books since the 1990's. 

Actually, when you now speak of gender...I can only speak for myself.  I got married and since then I stopped illustrating for children's books. To keep myself honed somewhat in my art, I would make Christmas and birthday cards and we would send them to my parents-in-law in Germany.  It took me another 10 years to find myself back to illustrating.  It was my mother-in-law who told my husband I had a a gift for drawing expressive people and she would always send me art materials. It didn't make a dent in me until...I made a trip to Megamall. Power Books had still a huge store there.  I was in awe.  A huge section of the store had  dedicated itself to Philippine children's books!!! I was nearly in tears!  (Philippine children's books have been recognized!)  Most of them were books illustrated by Beth Parrocha and Jason Moss! By then I said to myself, I'm going back to illustration. So, if your question if for "women illustrator", this woman illustrator saw the "light" in that moment. 

There is a Picture Book Making Workshop on March 24, 2018 before the Opening Ceremonies. It will be conducted by Frances Alvarez. On April 28, 2018, Liza Flores will be conducting a paper-cut art workshop in the morning and Adarna House will launch books in the afternoon. The Peek-A-Book exhibit will run from March 24, 2018 till May 6, 2018.

It’s Women’s Month and Mother’s Day is in May. Celebrate it by viewing artworks made by Filipino women artists!

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