Good morning, all.
Author/illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton visits 7-Imp today to talk about her debut picture book, Henny, which was published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in January. The painting above, called Ignition, is not from that book, but I like it and it makes me laugh.
Henny is the story of a chicken who has arms, and below Elizabeth tells us how she came to this premise, what reactions have been (the creeptacular painting below is my second favorite), and she also tells us a bit about what she’s up to next. I thank her for visiting and for sharing lots of art.
Henny, by the way, is packing her bags and learning her French. Her story will be published in France by Seuil Jeunesse in 2015. Bon voyage, Henny.
Here’s Elizabeth …
Elizabeth: I’m often asked how I thought up the idea of writing a picture book about a chicken with arms.
It all began a few years ago after a bout of strenuous doodling. I do my best thinking when I’m drawing, and one day I was thinking about (which means I was drawing) birds. What a shame, I thought, that some birds have wings that are relatively useless—birds like ostriches and dodos—when out popped a sketch of a bird with arms. Much more useful, I thought. I found myself getting quite carried away with the idea.
Then I started thinking about chickens. What about a chicken with arms? Much more useful, I thought. I had so much fun imagining what a chicken could do with a pair of arms that, soon after, Henny was born. I became so intrigued that I drew her in every imaginable scenario in every handy medium — from pen and ink to gouache to colored pencil. By the time Henny was published, I had more than a few fat binders and numerous sketchbooks overflowing with her.
Then came time for the final art. It happened that Henny was acquired by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books based on a rough dummy, rendered entirely in pencil, so I had to decide what to use for the final art. Having been trained as an architect and scientific illustrator and having been a portrait artist, I was very used to working in pencil, pen and ink, pastel, and gouache.
Shortly before the book offer, I (serendipitously) inherited a generous supply of watercolors, brushes, and what seemed like an endless supply of watercolor paper from a distant relative. So I thought, why not?
All of the final art for Henny was rendered in pencil and watercolor on cold press watercolor paper.
(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)
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So now that it’s been a couple of months since Henny’s book debut and I can step back from it all a little, I have to say how much I am enjoying reading and seeing some of the reactions to my unusual character. Some of the most frequently used words I’ve read in comments and reviews about her are: adorable, weird, funny, lovely, quirky, sweet, and hilarious — and someone even said she was creeptacular.
I just can’t resist drawing Henny as creeptacular:
I love all these observations, because I think it shows there’s a complexity to Henny’s character that’s getting people thinking and feeling on multiple levels.
But I have to say that the most satisfying responses have been from the kids. They seem to take it in stride that Henny was born different. Even if they initially think Henny is a bit odd, by the end of the story her personality seems to win them over.
At the moment, I have no plans for a Henny sequel, but I find I just can’t stop drawing and painting her. She’s been such a fun character and, after all, her story is about possibilities and using your imagination …
So now, cue the pig:
My next book, also with Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, is Peddles (due out early 2016). Peddles is still in the works, but let’s just say it’s a story about a little pig with some BIG ideas.
Meanwhile, I’m continuing on with my strenuous doodling. I have a standing goal to draw something everyday and post it. I have to admit I don’t always make it, but I like the challenge and it’s certainly led me to come up with some interesting character and story ideas — so stay tuned.
Character ideas from my sketchbooks:
Beginnings of some story ideas from my sketchbook:
Thanks so much for having me, Jules!
HENNY. Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. Published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Elizabeth Rose Stanton.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is 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. New kickers are always welcome.
2) Getting home when you’re weary of airports and small talk on planes with extroverts — and when you really want big hugs from your daughters.
3) Big hugs from the daughters.
4) My co-workers (from one of my many contractor jobs and the reason I flew to Massachusetts this week). We work virtually, so meeting up once a year, face to face, is always fun.
5) The I-miss-you notes my eight-year-old snuck in my luggage, which I was supposed to pretend not to see when I was packing.
6) Though I wish they’d let a woman host a major late-night talk show from time to time, COLBERT!
7) I knew that Nickel Creek covered a Sam Phillips’ song on their new CD, but before I even ordered it, Little Willow emailed me a link to it on Grooveshark. (Thanks, LW!) It’s even her Poetry Friday post from this past week.
So gorgeous, this cover, and Sam is such a fabulous songwriter:
What are YOUR kicks this week?