WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I connected with our Will Write for Cookies guest early this year and fell in love with her beautiful art and wonderful stories. (Plus, she’s an awesome person!) When she said she’d be happy to stop in to chat, I was thrilled!
Welcome, Patricia! We are so happy to have you here.
ME: What was your favorite book when you were a child?
My favorite book was THREE LITTLE HORSES. This is a wonderful story written and illustrated by Piet Worm. The little horses liked playing games that they dreamed up wearing their colorful thinking caps. An artist, wearing a tree suit, befriended them and took them to town. He disguised them in elaborate princess costumes and masks.
You might think this a strange story, but it made perfect sense to my six-year old brain and heart. My mother was a textile artist. She spun and dyed her own wool. She wove the yarn into sweaters and dresses. She also created beautiful wedding dresses. Her clients, the brides-to-be, would stand in the middle of our living room to try on their new gowns. Imagine the twirling, the billowing, the excited laughter and chatter.
So of course little horses could go to town wearing princess masks and wearing princess gowns. Better yet, an artist, like my mother, provided them. I still have the book, and will occasionally pull it down and page through it just for the joy of it.
ME: Where do you like to write and illustrate – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
I mostly write in my studio. First drafts are usually with pencil on paper. I write later versions on my computer. I often take these to my writer’s group, where I get constructive feedback. While it’s still fresh, I’ll often start improving the manuscript on the subway on the way home from Brooklyn.
I’ll almost exclusively do my illustrating in my studio, although I’ll take walks along the Hudson River to work out content, design, layout and color paletteconcerns. After sketching a dummy of my story, I’ll start painting with watercolors. I’ll scan each page spread, and then combine images in Photoshop. I also incorporate elements of collage and photography. With LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL I created ocean waves and Lou Seal with encaustic wax. If you’d like to see more of this process, look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evADOs7z068
Here I am at my drawing table.
Here are some of the art supplies I work with.
And if you’d like to see even more of my art studio and my illustration approach, look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St9cCm4T1V0
This You Tube video shows me at work on my current project, SCOOP the ICE CREAM TRUCK, (Sky Pony Press, Spring 2018).
ME: Why do you create picture books for children?
One of my greatest joys is creating art for children’s picture books—art that shows the rich emotions of feisty, assertive little girls. I illustrate independent creatures who demand to solve their own problems and expect to enjoy the rewards of doing so.
I’m especially interested in girls who run up playground slides, win watermelon-spitting contests, and dress in colorful layers. I love little girls whose voices are dainty-delicate but when they shout, trees bend back.
When visiting parks and playgrounds I discover the unique characteristics of a child by noticing how a baby’s legs hang like noodles from a carrier, how a toddler in a diaper walks like a goose, and a child can bend in positions that are a yogini’s dream.
My greatest challenge is to have a consistent character while keeping up with her ever-changing moods. Hair and clothes help keep the character looking like the same child, but over 32 pages keeping her 5 years old and not 4 or 6—or her look irritated, but not angry—is on me.
I want the world to be a place of true opportunity for girls. In my work I want to show that crying is a badge of courage, because she gave her all. Her hair and clothes are expressions of freedom, because they’re her own flag. And failure is a necessity, because she’ll never move forward without it.
Little girls intuitively know these things. I want to create books that support them from the get-go.
Here I am at Book Expo America this May sketching Lizzie wearing everything she needs for her day at the beach on her beach tool belt!
Now about those cookies, I’ve asked my wonderful husband, Francis McCall, chief cook, bottle washer, editor, my biggest supporter—and baker—to supply the recipe for the best cookies I’ve ever had, cookies I defy anyone to manage to only eat one and not go back for more!
Grandmother Gera’s Almond Crescent Cookies
1/2 pound butter
1/2 pound fine ground almonds
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
Cream the butter and sugar. Add almonds. Add 1 cup of the flour. Add vanilla. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over this mixture and mix by hand. Place a handful of dough on a floured board. Roll out a log of this mixture 1 inch in diameter. Cut off 1/2-inch slices. Roll small crescents from the slices with the heels of hands. Place the crescents on a buttered cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Slightly cool and remove. Place in container and dust with powdered sugar while still warm. Yield approximately 10 dozen cookies.
LIZZIE and LOU SEAL book
LOU SEAL necklace
HURRAY! I can’t thank you enough, Patricia, for sharing all of these insights with us. And for your generous giveaways! And for the yummy cookie recipe…Almond Crescent Cookies are one of my favorites! Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever met a cookie I didn’t like…but these are melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness!
Dear friends, if you’d like to connect with Patricia or find out more about her many wonderful books:
LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, Sky Pony Press (why not hop over and write a review?)
SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK, Sky Pony Press (Spring 2018)
Facebook – PatriciaKeelerBooks
Instagram – @patriciakeeler
Twitter – @patriciakeelerbooks
WOW…what a post! Patricia has been exceedingly generous in sharing so much of her process…we even have the YouTube videos to learn from. You definitely don’t want to leave without commenting because I know everyone would love to win the book and necklace. And don’t forget, leave a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, and you’ll be entered in THAT giveaway for a copy of the book AND the earrings.
And guess what??? The goodness just doesn’t stop because we need to announce the winners of author/illustrator Denise Fleming’s giveaway!
A copy of Beetle Bop goes to….LESLIE GOODMAN
And a copy of 5 Little Ducks goes to…MANJU HOWARD
Please contact me so I can connect you and Denise.
Phew! I think I need to grab a big glass of iced tea and a plateful of those Almond Crescent Cookies! Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends.