Sunday, February 5, 2017

Illustrator, Beth Krommes, Responds to the 6th Grade Art Projects!

In the previous post, you will see some of the pictures of the 6th Grade scratch art projects that we titled "House in the Night."

Students looked at the artwork of illustrator, Beth Krommes, and took note of her style, use of contrasts, and accent colors, as well as texture within her works of art.  Using this as inspiration, students used scratch boards to create their own "house in the night."  The only requirements was that they had to have a man-made structure of some kind and use an accent color(s) for emphasis and concentrate on exaggerating the contrasts and the use of texture.

Pictures of the students artworks, along with questions from the students were emailed to the illustrator, Beth Krommes and she sent back a reply that was received today.  Here is her note to the students:

Hi Mary,
What fun to look at these pictures! I like how your students thought about composition and positive and negative shape! I also like the use of texture within the shading in the pictures. I will keep these photos on file. What a fun project. I don't know if you are working on scratch paper. I find that hard to work with, did your students think so, too? I like to use scratchbord by ampersand, but that is probably too expensive for your budget. Here are some answers to your questions.

-How do you get inspiration for your artworks? First, the publishing company accepts the manuscript by the author. Then the editor chooses the illustrator. The illustrator gets the type written manuscript and takes it from there. It is up to the illustrator to decide how long the book will be, what words will be on what pages, and what the pictures will be about. I brainstorm the meaning of the words in the text to help myself come up with an idea of how to tell a story with the pictures--sometimes an additional story to the one the author is telling. For me the inspiration starts with the author's words.

-What process do you use for your illustrations?  (Print-making?  Scratch art?) It takes me about half a year to design a book in pencil, through many stages (including several book dummies), and to get approval from the editor about the direction the book is taking. The final art on scratchboard can take another six to nine months. The painting comes at the very end after all the work is finishing in the black and white scratchboard. I usually work on a book for a year and a half to two years. This interview gives a little look into the process 

-How much time does it take to create one page of a book's illustration? I never work on one page at a time. I'll work on little bits of several pictures each day. That keeps it fresh for me. Also, I think if I did page one completely, page two completely, etc., by the time I got to page 40, my technique would have gotten so much better by the end that I could see that in the pictures. Does that make sense? If I did work on one double-page spread picture from a book, start to finish, it would take me about a week to finish one scratchboard picture. Did your students think that scratchboard took a long time to do?

-Do you ever ask your friends/family for drawing inspiration/ideas/what should I draw next? I have so many ideas of my own that I don't need to ask anyone else what to do. I think the more you draw, the more ideas you have of other things you want to draw. I do ask my family whether or not they like particular manuscripts that are offered me before I decide to take them on.

-What was the first artwork you got paid for in your professional career? When I was in sixth grade, I sold an oil painting of a barn shed for $25 to a friend of my art teacher. 
Mary, let me know if you have any other questions. I could write a book in answer to these questions! Tell your students to "keep their artist eyes on", to notice the beauty in everyday life. That's where inspiration begins.

Best wishes,


The students in both 6th grade and in 8th grade (with their favela project and interaction with artist Eric Cremers) have really been responding with such enthusiasm in making these connections/dialogue with living, breathing artists.  I hope to find more opportunities to interact with artists in the future!

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