Monday, 3 May 2010

Alexis Deacon/Children's Book Seminar 2010.

Alexis Deacon is the author and illustrator of Slow Loris, Beegu, and While You are Sleeping. He has also illustrated Jitterbug Jam, written by Barbara Jane Hicks. He is a tutor on the Cambridge Children's Book Illustration course. Currently he is working on a couple of books, "A Place to Call Home" and "Problem Bird". He spoke about narrative as being the main thing that interests him and makes him want to illustrate. He also emphasised that the cornerstone of picture books is that words and pictures go together seamlessly, if you allow it the space to work. If it is not working, chances are it hasn't left the space, so to speak. The important thing is to leave space for pictures and words to act in counterpoint, and the best illustrations are the ones that expand on the sentiment in the text. He stressed narrative pace, and to use the tools of this wisely, ie. not necessarily all at once, but with judgement. For instance, its often not what you use, but what you don't use that makes the difference, to give pace, to allow the story to be told and give climax, apex to the narrative. If you use all of those elements together, then you deny yourself an option in telling the story at different points. He advised to be aware of the narrative implications of the tools one uses, ie. the type of mark on the page, colour, and shape of the picture block on the page and to use them advisedly in your spacing and pacing. He often puts in sub-plots visually, i.e. being able to tell a story with pictures by putting in different levels of accent; things not highlighted in the composition, but they are there for those who might notice them. One of his major influences has been Honore Daumier and Commedia dell Arte.

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