Our June calendar page is ready with gorgeous art by featured illustrator Faith Pray! Faith is working on her debut author-illustrated picture book. It releases in one year (June 2020) and we cannot wait to read it.
This month's interview is packed with lots of eye candy and glimpses into Faith's workspace and process. You won't want to miss it.
Download the June calendar page here and then scroll down for the interview!
Interview with Author/Illustrator Faith Pray
Puddle Jump Collective:
Today we’re talking with Faith Pray, an author-illustrator living in Washington State in the Pacific Northwest.
Faith is represented by Molly O’Neill at Root Literary Agency, and is our featured illustrator this month for the June Downloadable Kidlit Calendar. Faith is joining us from her basement studio space.
Can you tell us a little bit about your workspace, Faith?
Hello, Puddle Jump! Thanks for the interview!
This is my happy, creative place.
It’s loaded with paper, books, heaps of art making tools,
and is extra rich thanks to some special people in my life.
The vintage ladder is made by my grandpa, shelves by my hubs and by my dad,
who also made me the most epic iPad/drawing board stand ever.
I have two furry studio assistants.
They like to take naps.
And taste paintbrushes.
I have a multitude of corkboards, chalkboards. and clipboards.
They help me keep track of all the things I need to remember.
Puddle Jump Collective: It’s always a treat to see inside an illustrator’s workspace. What is your most important work essential?
(Can you tell?)
Blackwing pencils are my favorites because they come with a handy eraser attached.
I like them so much I bought pencil extenders so I can use up as much pencil as possible before saying goodbye.
Pencils are my most-wanted art supply, but I also need….
It might seem an entirely fluffy and unimportant thing, but when you have four kids between the ages of 8 - 13 and your studio is in the basement, sound dampening is a GOOD thing!
Writing gloves. It gets cold in my basement studio. Also, I feel legitimately writerly when I sit down to work with these on.
Mug. Most helpful when there is something hot and caffeinated in it.
Eraser. Polymer erasers are my go-to eraser for colored pencils.
Sketchbook. I really love the texture of Strathmore 400 Series paper.
Paint pencils. I am a fan of Caran D-Ache Supracolor Soft and Bruynzeel watercolor pencils.
Water-soluble graphite fat pencil. Lyra Graphitekreig is chunky and unpredictable. Which is fun to play with.
Colored pencils. I like both Prismacolor and Lyra polycolor buttery oil pencils.
Sharpener. Kum long-point sharpener
Those are my favorite analog tools, but I also rely on my Macbook Pro, iPad Pro, and Apple Pencil for digital work.
Puddle Jump Collective: Excellent. What would you say is the top advice you’ve been given as an author-illustrator?
Faith: I think I have two things. Maybe three.
I check out gargantuan stacks of children's books from the library and I read all the time. Also, I read with intention - I use sticky notes when studying children’s books and use them to flag whenever I notice patterns and plot structures, character growth, or quirky things I want to remember.
2. SKETCH EVERY DAY.
When I say “every day” I guess I mean regularly, because sometimes you end up tightroping between all of the life things and you can’t possibly fit in extra time to sketch or write or whatever your creative discipline is.
So, I sketch regularly. Mostly, I sketch every night. Sometimes, everything I sketch in a day turns out like that botched Ecce Homo fresco. But I like to think of sketching as a learning habit. I learn from what doesn’t work as much as I learn from what does work.
It’s all drops in that skill bucket, right?
3. WRITE EVERY DAY.
The thing about being an author-illustrator as well as a mom of four kids is that there is a lot of plate-balancing, tiger-juggling, and a very messy circus underneath it all. Sometimes the wheels fall off and the roof is on fire (figuratively), so, in the same spirit as the “Sketch Every Day” habit, I aim to write at least 15 minutes every day. But it doesn’t always happen.
Puddle Jump Collective: Can you share a little bit of how you take a sketch to finished art?
First, I work in pencil.
I tend to overcrowd my sketchbook, so sometimes I try to sketch a frame beforehand and work within it. This sketch is based on the tree-planting field trips my kids get to do with their school.
Next, I add washes and color with watercolor paint pencils.
Then, I add colored pencils on top for more texture and saturation.
Then I clean up in Photoshop.
Puddle Jump Collective: We hear you have some exciting news to share with us. What’s up?
Faith: My debut author-illustrator picture book THE STARKEEPER comes out with Random House books in June 2020.
I can’t wait to share it with you. It’s about a girl who desperately wants to change the world around her, and a lost star who needs the girl to help it shine.
Here are some of my reference boards for THE STARKEEPER.
Here are some of the final sketches.
…and here’s the teeniest peek of the finals.
Puddle Jump Collective: We can’t wait to meet The Starkeeper in June 2020.
Thanks for the interview Faith! You can find Faith's PuddleJump bio here, or visit her website at www.faithpraybooks.com.