This holiday season give the gift of bears, balloons, birds and butterflies with local Cleveland area writer/illustrator Lindsay Ward‘s selections of beautiful and wonderous children’s picture books. Her most recent, “Please Bring Balloons” published by Dial Books for Young Readers follows Emma an ever curious little girl who befriends a Grand Carousel polar bear.
I asked Lindsay to share with us some thoughts on life, art and her inspirations.
What was the first drawing you remember doing as a child? The timing of this question is impeccable. I remember tracing my hands to make turkeys for Thanksgiving decorations. I did a lot of drawing on the walls of my house too (much to my mother’s dismay), but I don’t think I wasn’t really making recognizable images yet. I’m sure if you had asked me at the time what the drawings were of I would have had an elaborate response.
What do you look to for inspiration? Or do when you need inspiration? I generally try not to look for inspiration because it usually means I’m trying too hard. If I’m stuck on an illustration or have dreaded writer’s block, I force myself to take a break, get out of my house, and go experience something. I find that everything clicks into place when I’m not thinking about it.
Can you describe your process – how an idea for a book comes to life? Every book I have ever written has come from a personal experience, either as a child or as an adult. I’m a firm believer in writing what you know. For example, When Blue Met Egg, is really about me finding my way when I lived in New York. Once I have an idea I begin to figure out the characters. I tend to draw my characters over and over again to become as familiar with them as possible during the initial sketching phase, that way they look effortless on the page. I want my readers to feel a connection to them. From there I decide my medium, usually cut paper and mixed media, pastel, or watercolor, and begin to create the finished art. Thankfully I work with a very talented editor, art director, and book designer who help me out along the way. From start to finish a picture book usually takes two years to create.
Where did “Please Bring Balloons” come from? Did you see a polar bear one day? a balloon floating to the sky? Please Bring Balloons actually changed quite a bit during the revision process, however I think I was always initially inspired by my parents. They met painting carousel horses. I always thought that was such a cool job. I’m not a huge fan of drawing horses (I find them incredibly difficult) so I decided to use a wild animal carousel instead. I went to the Akron Zoo and took a ton of pictures of their carousel for reference. While I was taking photos the polar bear just sort of jumped out at me. I wanted a character that was grand in size compared to Emma, my main character. The polar bear personifies the magnificence of the adventure. As far as the balloons go, Up is easily one of my favorite movies. I’m such a sap, I can’t get through the first 20 minutes without crying. I love the idea of a balloon adventure. It’s the definition of magical, hopefully my readers feel the same way.
What are you drawing in your sketch book these days? What’s on the new horizon for you? I’m actually not an avid sketcher, which is horrible. I always feel guilty about that. My sketchbooks are usually filled with scraps of paper I find and lots and lots and lots of lists. I think it’s the type A in me. That being said, when I have a character I can’t get out of my head, they tend to fill up a quite few pages in my sketchbook.
Currently, I am in the process of finishing up a new picture book that I wrote and illustrated, Henry Finds His Word (Dial Books for Young Readers), which will be released in early 2015. The book is about a squishy baby named Henry who doesn’t get why his family can’t understand him. So he decides to look for his first word, maybe that will help.
This December I will begin working on a new picture book, The Importance of Being Three (Dial Books for Young Readers), which I also wrote and illustrated. This book is about the ups and downs of being three, mixed in with things that come in threes.
In between books, I am visiting schools, libraries, and bookstores and will be participating in a few book fairs next year. ∞
This holiday season catch Lindsay Ward in the Heights at the Ruffing Montessouri School Holiday Bazaar & Book Fair, Saturday December 7th from 10:00am – 1:00pm. Visit her website and blog for all upcoming events. http://lindsaywardevents.blogspot.com/