7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #178: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Ben Clanton

h1 August 1st, 2010 by jules

Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. Whew. It’s already the first Sunday of August, and the first Sunday of each month is when I like to shine the spotlight on a student illustrator or someone otherwise brand-new to the field. Let’s get right to today’s featured illustrator, Ben Clanton, who—according to his site—has spent most of his time in Oregon and Montana classrooms. But he tells us a bit more below, so without further ado…Welcome to Ben:

* * * * * * *

Ahoy! I’m Ben, a story-scribbler, picture-squiggler, book aficionado, child advocate, dragon-tamer (if only), and avid fun-socks wearer. I’m also a huge fan of the 7-Imp blog and am really glad to have this opportunity to share a bit about my stories and artwork.

I’m a self-taught author/illustrator but have had lots of support along the way. I first became interested in writing children’s books about three years ago. As my interest in picture books and other children’s lit grew, I became more and more interested in the interplay between words and pictures. Soon I began to make doodles when coming up with stories. Now I draw even more than I write. I especially love drawing monsters, aliens, and robots.

These illustrations {below} are all from a dummy book of mine about a robot named Gizmo and his new friend, Wild. The second image is a good indicator of my process in creating a book. I hand-sketch my rough illustrations and then play around with the design on Photoshop. The interplay between words and pictures is really important to me when thinking about this early stage:



Cats and birds are among my favorites to draw, too. I usually use ink and watercolor, but I like to be adventurous by splashing and dipping in other media as well.

These are a couple illustrations from my latest dummy book, which I am not ready to reveal too much about yet. {Ed. Note: Click each of these two images to enlarge.}


I’m not published yet but feel really good about the direction I am headed. I have oodles of story ideas right now and have a number of dummy books I have been working on. In a few weeks, I will be marrying the love of my life and moving to Seattle to start work at a before- and after-school program. I’m really excited about working with kids on a daily basis. I think I like facilitating moments for kids to create their own stories even more than I like making my stories. And I LOVE making my stories, so that is really saying something!

There are a lot of illustrators and/or authors whom I admire and whose work I enjoy but these are some of my all time faves: David Roberts, Chris Riddell, Jon J Muth, Peter H. Reynolds, Suzy Lee, Bill Peet, Mo Willems, Tony DiTerlizzi, Mark Fearing, Carolyn Conahan, Oliver Jeffers, Holly Hobbie, David Walker, Kei Acedera, LeUyen Pham, Peter McCarty, Dan Santat, Brandon Mull, David Small, Stephen Michael King, Peter Brown, Martin Matje, Olivier Tallec, Marc Boutavant, Jen Corace, Alexandra Boiger, Tricia Tusa. Hard to stop, once I get started!

Thanks for taking a look! You can find more about me at: benclanton.blogspot.com.

All images copyright © 2010 Ben Clanton. All rights reserved.

* * * * * * *

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1). I thought this presentation at The University of Tennessee went well on Friday of this week, and I had fun. I mean, really: How often does one get asked to talk about her favorite picture books (which is pretty much what I do here at the ‘ol blawg anymore) and rave about her favorite authors and illustrators? I talked very fast—yet the sign language interpreters, former colleagues of mine, did not, indeed, kill me afterwards—and I crammed in lots of books and showed lots of art from them. Best of all, I got to hear my former librarian colleagues talk the rest of the day about novels and YA titles.

2). I got to see friends while in town, including staying the evening with two friends of mine who have an obscenely cute seven-month-old baby, who SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT, a phenomenon I do not understand. I mean to tell you, too, so listen up, friends: This baby is beautiful.

3). My six-year-old is really into this read-aloud (which Candlewick just released in the U.S. in paperback form). Who knew? I’m having fun reading it to her. And, speaking of Chris Riddell (which Ben did), he’s illustrated this re-telling by Martin Jenkins. (I like how this reviewer wrote in ’04, when the book was very first published overseas, “Observer cartoonist Chris Riddell accompanies the text with suitably spiky illustrations.”)

4). After reading this wonderful book (pictured left) to my girls (did someone here, by the way, recommend it?), I followed the “golden syrup dumplings for the soul” recipe in the back of the book. The girls turned their noses up at the final product, but I very much enjoyed them, especially with vanilla ice cream. See? Mmm.

5). Helping people connect, especially in support of this great project.

6). Last, but far from least, and I’m stopping just short of seven kicks here: New music. If this song doesn’t make you dance around the room, you need … well, some coffee. And then try again. Also, this CD, which I listened to all the way through this week and which will be streaming over there till early August. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

What are YOUR kicks this week? Please do tell. I’m so behind on my blog-reading.

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25 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #178: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Ben Clanton”

  1. Thanks for linking to Library of the Early Mind, Jules.

    http://libraryoftheearlymind.com/
    Wait…there it is again. 🙂

    1. Talking with Morton Schindel from Weston Woods.
    2. Reading Christine Brodien-Jones’s THE OWL KEEPER.
    3. Looking forward to visiting DC, New York, Nashville, Ypsilanti, Calgary, Los Angeles, Boston, the list goes on.
    4. Running behind a Strawberry Shortcake bike with training wheels.
    5. Remembering why I love comics while reading Raina Telgemeier’s SMILE.
    6. Working on a “Fieldnotes” interview with Scholastic’s David Saylor for this impossibly excellent blog.
    7. Listening to Brad Mehldau (phenomenal jazz pianist) while revising a poem about birds:

    BACKYARD BIRDS
    By Steven Withrow

    No melody so much at home
    as that high hubbub, sly
    backtalk of robin and wren,

    aloft with the soft scratching
    of a song sparrow singing
    on a swaying seed dish.

    Are we not the same audience
    who spied, last August,
    a yellow flash

    of goldfinch, nuthatch,
    or the bright blood spot
    of a scarlet tanager,

    a bachelor sashaying
    from elm leader to flagpole
    to deck railing, calling:

    I will not go when summer goes —
    my brilliant dance, my dalliance
    will live, will live.


  2. Good choice today. I met Ben in May at the SCBWI-OR conference. His art is so much fun and I am sure we’ll be seeing his art in books some day.
    Steve, I love the the poem about the birds.
    My kicks:
    Being at the coast with the grandgirls and thier families.
    Blueberries from my bushes.
    Teaching grand girl about “butter sandwiches”(oyster crackers stacked w/butter between, something my dad taught me.)
    Relishing my time off but I can’t believe its August 1 already.
    Walking in the mornings.
    Have a great week.


  3. Happy Sunday!

    Enjoyed the intro to Ben’s work! Congrats on getting married and moving to Seattle! I swear, that city is full of so many highly talented, creative souls!

    So glad your presentation went well, Jules. Knew it would :). And did I hear something about golden syrup dumplings? Mmmmmm. Have to check out that book.

    Lovely poem, Steven. I’m big on birdwatching!

    My kicks:

    Read Cynthia Lord’s new book, Touch Blue (official release day is today)! Love her writing, and made some celebration soup.

    Loved “In Performance at the White House” with Paul McCartney and others playing his music. Great interview with him up at the PBS website.

    Tanita’s book sale (announced in PW Children’s Bookshelf this week)!

    Temps below 100 degrees last week.

    BLUE.

    Happy August!


  4. We were posting at the same time, Jone.

    Envious of your blueberry bushes! And I’m going to try some butter sandwiches :).


  5. Steven, I absolutely love that poem and also kick #4!

    Jone, you met Ben? How cool. Butter sandwiches are new to me, but they sound yummy. They will have to be part of the dream breakfast we’re all going to have together one day when someone gives 7-Imp a grant for such a thing. Hee. When does school start for you all?

    Jama, yes, check out the book and let me know if you like the dumplings. I thought of you as I made them and meant to email you about them. But it was one of Those Weeks. Busy. And, Jama, I loved your blue post, I love blue, and I’m happy to hear of Tanita’s news. And I wanna read Cynthia’s book!


  6. Glad the talk went well, Jules! And yum, I like the look of those dumplings.

    The illustratations are great! (how do you find all these artists, Jules?)

    Love the poem, Steve! Though I am imagining British birds and I’m not sure if they’re the same as US ones.

    Jama, celebration soup sounds like a great idea.

    Jone, I’ve been eyeing up bluberry bushes in preparation for our move later in the year (nothing like planning a garden before even booking a plane ticket or finding a house), so I love that kick!

    1. a catch up with my manager who is on maternity leave – lovely cuddles with her baby, and a delicious chocolate guinness cake with birthday candles for me
    2. lamingtons (an Aussie treat, though apparently also around in Papua New Guinea) made for me by the New Guinean wife of a friend
    3. and gooseberry tart and strawberry jam muffins added to the birthday cake pile in our office – such nice colleagues and friends!
    4. A work bbq where we again were forced to shelter under large trees due to rain – still a great night, and it’s wonderful knowing so many people now compared to this bbq two years ago
    5. I bought a new dress yesterday for some upcoming weddings, a quick decision but one I think is right
    6. Roast lamb with copious amounts of garlic and rosemary in the oven, and roasted veggies to join it soon
    7. Listening to my niece chuckle on the phone this morning


  7. Emmaco, lamingtons = The Thing I Learned From You Today, and they also = the thing I want to eat RIGHT NOW.

    And chocolate guinness cake is the best.

    You had a delicious week — in many ways. Love your last kick.


  8. Hello everyone,

    Fly-by kicks since I am getting ready to make some jewelry with a friend. Glad to hear that everyone is having such a great summer. Wish I could have been there at your talk, Jules, but I knew it would be great. Love “Miniature Tigers”!

    My kicks:
    1) Attending the Renegade Craft Fair at a huge venue in S.F. yesterday with a friend. It was very inspiring — everything from jewelry to stationery to eye-popping prints and posters. So many talented people in the DIY movement today.
    2) Speaking of DIY, getting two beautiful fabric flower pins in the mail, which were handmade by my friend Peggy.
    3) Reading “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art” by Madeleine L’Engle. What a beautiful writer!
    4) Finding out about the band “I am Kloot”. Here is a sample: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/video/2010/jun/30/i-am-kloot-northern-skies-video
    5) Trader Joe’s sunflower seed butter — like peanut butter, only better.
    6) Support
    7) Going to the next level

    Have a happy week!


  9. Ahoy, Ben! Hola to your cats, birds, monsters, robots, and aliens. Thanks for dropping by 7-Imp. I love the picture on the swings.

    Jules: Kudos and congrats on the presentation! So glad that you had fun. Thanks for the recommendations, as always — I requested Layla from the library and passed the Library of the Early Mind trailer to friends and readergirlz. I’m listening to Bullfighter Jacket by Miniature Tigers now. I’m not fond of the vocals – his is not my favorite tone – but I’m glad that you too appreciate good dance-around-the-room music. (Joy by David Poe, which I think I’ve linked here before, is one of those songs for me; the Jimmy Eat World album Chase This Light is nearly back-to-front good-times music.)

    Stephen Withrow: Thank you for sharing your poetry, and the dance. Have fun while traveling, and be safe!

    jone: I’ve never had butter sandwiches, but I have had the yummy experience of sugar-cinnamon-butter on bread as inspired by the book Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw. Check it out. Enjoy your time off and your family time!

    Jama: I too enjoyed Touch Blue.

    GO TANITA! GO TANITA! GO TANITA!
    (Three cheers.)

    emmaco: Best wishes to your manager and her family. Yay for chuckles. I’ve heard of lamingtons, but have never eaten one.

    Jill: I now want to try this sunflower seed butter of which you spoke, because I like peanut butter.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Last night’s show, which was hilarious, fun, and energetic. Some audience members seemed as though they were really into the show, for they laughed at all the right spots (as well as new places), and they were even vocalizing support and interjecting feedback here and there. It was a hoot.
    2) Audition. I didn’t get it, but the audition went well and it was a good experience.
    3) Breathing.
    4) Trying.
    5) Finishing.
    6) Still going.
    7) I have an audition for a film tonight. We’ll see what happens!


  10. Goodness, love Gizmo and Wild on the swings, and Gizmo doing his monrster thing. Such joyful images.

    Jules – Hooray for your presentation going well and that you had fun!

    Steven – love the poem. I love birds, we have many finches visit the tree in front of the house.

    jone – being at the coast with grandkids and family sounds lovely.

    jama – glad your summer weather is so nice, what was in your celebration soup?

    emmaco – choclate guiness cake and a new dress sounds like a perfect week. Yum!

    Jill – glad the craft fair was fun, and I adore Madeleine L’Engle.

    LW – last night’s show sounds like it was a lot of fun. Knock ’em dead at that audition tonight!

    My kicks:
    1) Playing tennis in the cool evenings with my friend Jeff. We are slowly getting less awful.
    2) frozen yogurt.
    3) getting addicted to Mad Men, almost done with season 1.
    4) Phone calls from 2 far away friends I had not talked to in a long time. So good for the soul to catch up.
    5) Big-hearted rescuers saving this kitty: littlebirdneedsahome.blogspot.com . Any one want Bird? I have met her, she is precious…
    6) My kitty who snores next to me every night.
    7) Having a glass of nice wine and very good conversation with my boss.
    8) Applying for bigger things – scary, hopeful, stretch-inducing – fingers crossed.

    Have a great week everyone!


  11. Jill, so glad you enjoyed the craft fair. It sounds great. I, too, am intrigued by the sunflower seed butter.

    Little Willow, BREAK A LEG TONIGHT! And thanks for the album recommendation. Doesn’t a great, responsive audience make all the difference?

    Rachel, boy howdy and howdy boy, would my girls love that kitten, but we can’t add one more animal to the house. That is a tragically cute creature! And ooo! ooo! Good luck on the cryptic kick about applying for bigger things. My fingers are crossed for you.


  12. p.s. Rachel: To answer your question about Jama’s soup, I bet she meant this.


  13. Emmaco, I forgot to answer your question: In the case of Ben, I found out about him when he left a comment at one of my posts, he linked to his site in doing so, and I went exploring. I then contacted him…


  14. My major kick of the week:
    I cannot put down _Lives like Loaded Guns_ by Lyndall Gordon, the latest bio of Emily Dickinson. . . now I really understand her line, “tell the truth but tell it slant!” Wow, what a life, full of secrets, mysteries and this Oxford scholar is sharing them all!
    Thank you, Steven, for sharing your poem — keep them coming!
    Smaller kicks: tomatoes, corn, peppers, did I say tomatoes? This week: processing the sauce, the old fashioned way on the back porch!


  15. Jinx, I gotta read that. And enjoy those tomatoes. We got TONS this year from our garden. Mmm. (But our corn didn’t do so well, on account of the Great Flood of 2010 here in middle TN.)


  16. Ahoy! Thank you for the kind comments! Jules, thanks for featuring me. 🙂

    My kicks:
    1. Reading Atherton: The Dark Planet in the park
    2. climbing a tree before reading at the park
    3. golden retrievers
    4. knowing that the next Artemis Fowl book is about to come out
    5. visit to the Powells in Beaverton and getting some Elephant & Piggie books
    6. basketball
    7. finding a friend (deer) while at the community garden


  17. I’ll sneak in on the shirt tails of Sunday – 11:55pm L.A. time (will have to be a ‘fly by’ as I’m exhausted.)

    Wonderful art, congrats on your presentation Jules, great kicks as usual everyone.

    Mine all revolve around the SCBWI Summer Conference this weekend (one more day to go.) It’s been a great ride so far with lots of information and inspiration as well. Highlights for me include:

    1. M.T. Anderson reciting “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” (!) in a workshop about experimental possibilities in children’s literature.

    2. Non-fiction author panel: Deborah Heiligman, Susan Campbell Bartonletti, Elizabeth Partridge and Tanya Lee Stone. They were just so smart, well-spoken and passionate about non-fiction.

    3. The Golden Kite speeches (made me laugh and cry.)

    4. Margaritas with my agent, Jen Rofe. Meeting her other clients (and liking them all.)

    5. My own writers’ workshop “The Seven Deadly Sins of Rhyming Picture Books” seemed well-received. (And, whew!, neither my Powerpoint nor my mind froze up.) : – )

    6. Friend and author, Meg Medina, flew out for the conference and is staying in my guestroom.

    7. All of the above brings home how much I love the world of children’s books.

    Night all.


  18. …and I will sneak in on Denise’s shirt tails, even later!

    Love the art, as always, and love the kicks, as always. But Jules, I really hope someone had the foresight to shoot a video of that talk. Heck, I’d settle for audio. In the meantime, I’ll just grin quietly to myself that the UT/K page you linked to describes 7-Imp as “gaining notoriety.” Ha! (Okay, so that wasn’t so quiet.)

    Kicks, telegraphed:

    1. The Pooch’s resilience.
    2. The Missus’s resilience.
    3. Kindle.
    4. Creative bets apparently paying off.
    5. Whole-freaking-sky-wide heat-lightning storms.
    6. The surge of relief when the interrupted power comes back on.
    7. Articulate friends and family.

    Bonus: this music video — a group of 70+-year-olds, known as The Jolly Boys, reworking Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.”

    (Jill: THANK YOU for the I Am Kloot intro!)


  19. Ben, if I ever get a dog one day, I’d like it to be a golden retriever.

    Oh, and thanks again for stopping by.

    Denise, woot! So glad the conference—and your presentation—went well. Wish I could have heard M.T. And you.

    John, I doubt audio was recorded either. And only bits were videotaped, apparently. I don’t really know. And I’m watching this video now and LOVE IT. Thank you!


  20. I cannot believe the cover on Layla Queen of Hearts. In Australia the Tishkin Silk books have lovely Stephen Michael King illustrations as covers and the ‘feel’ of the books is very different. have you seen Glenda Millard’s new picture book ‘Isabella’s Garden’, a poetic, cumulative story with colourful naive illustrations by newcomer, Rebecca Cool?


  21. I have not seen that, Victoria. Just looked it up, and it looks wonderful — but doesn’t look like it’s been published in the U.S. yet. Am I right?


  22. Wow, Victoria. I just looked that up, and you’re not kidding. Much different look!

    I do like both covers, but yes, they’re wildly different in tone.


  23. […] 5). The latest edition of The Bluegrass Special is out, and they’ve included my feature with Ben Clanton. […]


  24. Love Ben’s work! Thanks for sharing and spreading it through the kidlitosphere.


  25. […] it true you sold your first picture book after an editor saw your work featured at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast back in 2010? Please fill us in on all the juicy details, listing the books you’ve published […]


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