A Peek at Nicole Tadgell’s Drawing Table

h1 January 20th, 2015 by jules

“As the tea cooled down, their conversation heated up. … [T]hey weren’t afraid to
stand up for their beliefs. In fact, they loved a good fight!”
— Rough sketch, final sketch, and final art (without text)

(Click second image to enlarge)

Illustrator Nicole Tadgell (pictured left) is visiting 7-Imp (for a third time — you can check the archives for her previous visits) to share artwork and early sketches from Suzanne Slade’s Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass. This book was released back in September (Charlesbridge), but better late than never.

Slade’s story, rife with source notes and an impressive Selected Bibliography at the book’s close, describes the friendship between the two legends. Everything about this was scandalous for the times: “It wasn’t proper for women to be friends with men,” Slade writes. “You weren’t supposed to be friends with someone whose skin was a different color than yours.” But their friendship endured for over 45 years. She even highlights their 1869 public argument when the Fifteenth Amendment gave black men, but not women, the right to vote. While Slade emphasizes their passion for civil rights and social justice, the heart of the book is their friendship, during both good and bad times.

Nicole’s delicate watercolors, as the Booklist review notes, bring readers a good deal of historical context for Slade’s words. Today, Nicole shares some preliminary images and a bit of final art from the book. “It is interesting to look at the journey from rough pencils to finished art,” she tells me. “Often things change dramatically, but the spirit of the scene stays the same. I really love how this book turned out! I feel that I’ve helped bring two historical figures to life for kids to learn and hopefully inspire them to read further about how both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony helped change America –- in part, by simply being friends.”

I thank her for sharing. …

“… Susan and Frederick didn’t care what others said ….
They were friends, no matter what.”
— Rough sketch, final sketch, and final art

(Click first two to enlarge)

“In 1861 Susan and Frederick headed to New York’s capital, Albany, to speak out against slavery. More than one hundred people signed a petition to keep them out of the city. ‘Those radicals will cause riots!’ they cried. …”
— A close-up of a spread in progress

(Click to enlarge)

“Their friendship lasted when tempers flared.”
— A close-up of a spread in progress

(Click to enlarge)

“No one thought Susan and Frederick would become friends.
But it’s a good thing they did. …”
— A close-up of a spread in progress

(Click to enlarge)

Cover as a work-in-progress
(Click each to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM: THE STORY OF SUSAN B. ANTHONY & FREDERICK DOUGLASS. Copyright © 2014 by Suzanne Slade. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Nicole Tadgell. Published by Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA. All images here are reproduced by permission of Nicole Tadgell.

4 comments to “A Peek at Nicole Tadgell’s Drawing Table”

  1. I didn’t know about this friendship. How cool is that?! And the illustrations are so lovely. I’ll be sure to check this one out soon. Thanks as always for sharing!

  2. Stacey, as one review notes, this is technically “creative nonfiction,” as in the way that Slade lays out the narrative. But the backmatter that lists sources is quite impressive.

  3. This is extraordinary work!. Wowie Zowie!

  4. Nicole’s work is beautiful, and has such a fine sensibility in every book. Learning a bit about how she works from sketch idea and scene to final watercolor is one of my great joys in having worked with her on a book!

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