This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 5th Annual Tucson Festival of Books at the campus of the University of Arizona. It was 2 days jam-packed with books and information galore!
This year's line-up of children's books authors and illustrators included Peter Brown, Jerry Pinkney, Matt Phelan, Lester Laminack, Adam Rex, SCBWI Arizona members Molly Idle and Lynne Avril, and the gentleman whose book appears above, Floyd Cooper.
The one-hour presentation given by Floyd was a demonstration of his painting technique, a subtractive method where he removes paint with a kneaded eraser. He learned this technique when he briefly worked for Hallmark cards and has been painting this way since 1983. Most of his picture book illustrations are painted on a 15 x 20 Bainbridge board, including spreads. He begins by spraying the board with Krylon fixative, then sketches in his drawing with an orange Prismacolor pencil (the pencil lines dissolve as paint is applied to the painting). A very thin wash of burnt umber oil paint is applied next, which remains moist and workable for about 6 hours. He then builds up the illustration by taking away paint with a kneaded eraser, which leaves highlights. Below is a 5-minute video from the workshop where he talks about this method:
After the highlights are established, local color is added with thin layers of paint. Depending on the piece, Prismacolor pencils and/or pastels are added as well. Below is a printed example of a finished illustration:
In the latter half of the workshop, we had a hands-on opportunity to try out his technique using charcoal and a kneaded eraser. It is definitely a different way of thinking and working. He makes it look so easy! I found Floyd Cooper to be a very warm, humorous, and generous artist. I felt very fortunate to be able to have a front seat at this workshop. Definitely worth the 2-hour drive from Phoenix!