Posts Tagged ‘acrylic painting illustrations’

Introducing illustrator François Thisdale

Posted on January 26th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart

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Illustrator François Thisdale For nearly thirty years, François Thisdale’s has worked as an award-winning illustrator creating images for children’s books, news magazines, annual corporate reports, and book covers for several clients in Canada, United States, Korea, China, Colombia, Spain and France. His trademark multi-textured images are the product of a unique blend of traditional drawing, photography and richly textured painting techniques interwoven with digital imagery that creates particular atmospheres. He is the illustrator of Missing Nimama which recently won the TD Award and The Stamp Collector, which is on the International Board on Books for Young People’s Honor List. He has also won a Notable Books for a Global Society Award and the Crystal Kite Award; been a TD Children’s Book Award Finalist; an OLA Best Bet; an Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award finalist; and a Willow Awards finalist. François lives near Montreal, Quebec.

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

French Toast written by Kari-Lynn Winters and illustrated by François ThisdaleMy latest release is a picture book for age 4-7 entitled French Toast, a text from Kari-Lynn Winters published by Pajama Press.
This is a great story about difference, about colour of skin, about identity. Phoebe—half Jamaican, half French-Canadian—hates her school nickname of “French Toast.” Her grandmother uses descriptions of favourite foods from both of Phoebe’s cultures to celebrate the varied skin tones of her family. This is a great book for all ages and all colors.

For that book, the challenge was inspiring. I’ve worked around different atmospheres to match colour of food described in the story. I wanted to create poetic moods and incorporate food elements, like banana bread, tea, maple syrup or peach yogurt to buid special images. I think I’ve succeeded to create a surreal world that helps to dive into this dialog between Phoebe and her grandmom. Each spread becomes a special place to observe these characters. I’m very proud of the result. I particularly like the tenderness of this little girl and the natural tones of the illustrations.

French Toast at Amazon.com

French Toast at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

As far as I remember, I’ve always been attracted by drawing and art in general. At the age of 4 or 5, my favorite series of books was Tintin and Snowy, by Hergé. I’ve been moved deeply by one of these books, Tintin and the Blue Lotus. All Tintin and Snowy books were very special to me but this specific book haunted me by the beauty of images, the strange architecture, its colourful exoticism. It was great to be able to follow the story without knowing how to read. I had the impression of traveling far, far away. This is the moment where I have started to draw for the rest of my life. Later on, I saw a photography of Hergé’s studio in a magazine for kids. I’ve been very impressed by that shot. I wanted to do that, to draw all day long!

When I left for China in 2003 to adopt our daughter, I admit that I’ve thought about my childhood, about that precious book and remembered how it inspired me as a kid. I didn’t know that China would give me the chance to become a father. I did lots of sketches in China and The Blue Lotus was still resonating inside of me.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like? THISDALE Studio

I’m working from home, an antique farmhouse, my studio is a luminous space with two large windows. Every single day starts almost the same, a good teapot of Oolong tea. I need lots of music and life is good!

When I work on a picture book or on a book cover, I’m very passionate.

A picture book project starts with the reading of the manuscript. That’s the moment where everything is possible. Each text brings different challenges to face. I need to understand characters, to learn from their stories and to find a link with my own life. I’m very grateful about authors, this is a real gift to share the world of other creators during months.

The work begins with pencil and watercolour sketches, far from a final illustration but enough to give a direction to the book. I love to work on a sketchbook. I feel the same as when I’m traveling.

From there, with comments from my editor, I start to work on images. First off, I build the skeleton of my illustrations with photographic references, part of painting textures, different details taken here and there, and I create a collage of photographies and paintings details, in Photoshop. I print that proof on my wide format printer and I paint over with acrylic and different mediums. Then, I scan this image to work it again in the computer. I add textures, collage, elements painted aside like skies, painted textures and adjust contrasts, levels, saturation. This is a long process, a kind of alchemy. And I love it!

Thisdale Bike Riding I usually take an hour or so during the day to keep the shape and get my head cleaned. From April to November, I’m cycling around 35 kilometers a day. I love the sensation of the wind and the contemplation of landscapes. I alway carry my cell phone to take pictures that could improve the quality of my illustrations.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

My work, as a freelance illustrator, asks me to be well organized and disciplined. I see illustration as a language where I need to “say” things differently, regarding the text. When I’m doing a picture book, I want to create a dance between words and images and to enhanced some parts of the story by creating specific moods. This is a link, a bridge between the text and the reader. An illustrator must dive into the story and search to understand characters, to feel the story from his guts. Obviously, this is a great way to express myself and I think that I became an illustrator for that reason: the easiness to communicate that way, to “tell” things differently without having to say a single word, to understand and share someone’s world.

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

Yes! I’m listening to music all day long. This is a great part of my inspiration. Music is something essential for me, something natural. As long as I remember, music has always been present in my life. My father was a pianist, I’ve played guitar a lot and composed music for shortfilms in a period of my life, music is an extension of my sensitivity. I like a wide variety of styles, depending of the moment. Today’ I’ve listened to Andy Stott, a londonian DJ, Yussef Kamaal, Ray Lamontagne and Radiohead and ended my working day with John Dowland solo lute music. Music is a great chance to discover different cultures and to admire creativity.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Hard to choose… Let me give you three names.

First, Eugene Delacroix simply for talking with him about his Moroccan sketchbooks. These sketches are still moving me. I visited Delacroix’ studio in Paris on place Furtenberg and had the chance to see some of these drawings.

I would have liked to meet Carl Beam, who died in 2005, an Ojibway painter who worked on large format paintings that incorporates photo-imagery. I love his work and his attachment to his roots. I would have liked, for sure, to discuss about his technique of blending photo and painting as well as knowing more about the true meaning of some pieces of art I love.

And finally Binette Schroeder, this wonderful German illustrator, to hear from this woman about her great career and to learn about this passionate person.


Fabulous Fall Picture Books

Posted on September 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts shares Fabulous Fall Picture BooksIsn’t it wonderful to feel the subtle changes in the weather and once again welcome the gorgeous colours of autumn?


Today’s post highlights picture books that beautifully celebrate Fall and the changes it brings to the world around us. Lush green trees and fields gradually change to yellow, gold, orange and red. Pumpkins, squash and corn ripen while cooler breezes blow and the days shorten.

We hope you will enjoy these fabulous Fall picture books with young readers and inspire them to create their own beautiful autumn artwork.



Fall Picture Books By the Light of the Harvest MoonBy the Light of the Harvest Moon written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Mark Jones
Fall picture book, set on a farm published by Blue Apple Books

Highlighted by luminous illustrations of a beautiful moonlit autumn night, By the Light of the Harvest Moon begins as the farmers wearily carry their last loads of the day. The full moon illuminates the animals grazing nearby and the quiet farmyard. Suddenly, a breeze blows through the farm, picking up the colourful dry leaves and swirling them about.
A cloud of leaves settles in the pumpkin patch. When the gusts subside, leaf people emerge from the pile. First come grown-ups. Then come children… and then pets.
All through the night, the leaf people celebrate the beauty of Fall; bobbing for applies, stringing popcorn necklaces, stacking pumpkins and making wreaths. After play, it is time to savor delicious pies ~ pumpkin, apple, pear and pecan ~ before the wind blows the leaf people into the sky.

By the Light of the Harvest Moon lesson plan from Empowering Writers

By the Light of the Harvest Moon at Amazon.com

By the Light Of the Harvest Moon at Amazon.ca

Fall Picture Books Fletcher and the Falling LeavesFletcher and the Falling Leaves written by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
Fall picture book, set in a forest published by Harper Trophy

When the world around him changes from lush green to gold, Fletcher worries that something is terribly wrong. His mother explains that it is autumn but Fletcher continues to watch with alarm as the leaves on his favorite tree change color and then start to fall.
“Don’t worry, tree. “I’ve got your leaf. I’ll fix you.” Fletcher looked around, picked a piece of grass, and carefully tied the leaf to a branch.
As the tree’s transformation continues, Fletcher does his best to collect the leaves, despite reassurances from Squirrel and Porcupine. They want to use the leaves to stay warm and cozy.

Young readers, familiar with the changes that autumn brings, will enjoy watching Fletcher discover the wonders of the seasons. The gorgeous ice laden tree is certain to inspire artists to read for their pastels and some glitter.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves lesson plan from Teacher Think Tank

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves at Amazon.com

Fletcher And The Falling Leaves at Amazon.ca

Kitten's Autumn written and illustrated by Eugenie FernandesKitten’s Autumn written and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Fall theme picture book for toddlers or preschoolers published by Kids Can Press

Beautifully vibrant and intriguing mixed media illustrations highlight this picture book for very young children. Written in rhyming couplets, the book is second in a series about Kitten. As the young cat explores the out-of-doors, young children will delight in the many animals that are encountered. Each is eating and preparing for winter.

Kitten’s Autumn at Amazon.com

Kitten’s Autumn at Amazon.ca

Fall Picture Books Leaf ManLeaf Man written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Fall picture book published by HMH Books for Young Readers

For Leaf Man, author illustrator Lois Ehlert used color copies of beautiful Fall leaves from many different trees (including maple, ash, oak, birch, elm, poplar, hawthorn, beach, fig, cottonwoood, sweet gum). She crafted the beautiful rich colours, textures and shapes into an inspired story that will encourage young readers to discover the possibilities in a pile of autumn leaves. Die cut pages show us a fascinating world of chickens, ducks, geese, mics, vegetables, orchards, cows grazing, turtles and fish, butterflies, birds, and forestland, all created using leaves, acorns, maple seeds and sweet gum fruit .

Leaf Man lesson plan from Harcourt Trade Publishers

Leaf Man at Amazon.com

Leaf Man at Amazon.ca

Fall Picture Books Mouse's First FallMouse’s First Fall written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Buket Erdogan
Fall picture book published by Simon and Schuster

Mouse and Minka spend a joyous day celebrating the gorgeous rich colours of Fall.
Mouse saw round leaves and skinny leaves and pointy leaves and smooth leaves.
The two friends celebrate the many colors and shapes while happily playing together in an enormous pile of orange, brown and red leaves. Best suited to preschool-age children, extension activities could include classifying leaves by shape or color.

Mouse’s First Fall at Amazon.com

Mouse’s First Fall at Amazon.ca

Be sure to visit our Fall Printables Page

for Fall-theme writing paper, picture dictionaries, fingerplays, poems and songs.

Storytime Standouts Free Fall Theme Printables



Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Fall and Halloween for Preschool and Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Simon With Two Left Feet – Delivers an Important Anti Bullying Message

Posted on May 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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image of cover art for anti bullying picture book, Simon with Two Left FeetSimon with Two Left Feet - written by Angela K. Narth and illustrated by Heidi Vincent
Anti bullying picture book published by GWEV Publishing

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Young Simon is the brunt of relentless teasing. He wants desperately to be accepted as part of his flock but he is clumsy. His awkwardness is humiliating and he worries that he won’t be able to pull his weight when the flock flies south in formation. When training begins, Simon arrives early and faces further teasing by some young geese. He retreats from the group, convinced that he has two left feet.

Simon watches the other young geese learn how to fly information and then sets off by himself. By the time he returns home, the entire flock has departed for the south. Simon is devastated, the squirrels and red-winged blackbirds are preparing for winter and the weather becomes increasingly cold. He is in a very dangerous situation especially if his pond freezes.

It is a happy reunion when one of the elder members of the flock returns to look for Simon. Old Blue is already tired from leading the flock partway and returning for him. She will not be able to lead Simon to the warmer breezes in the marshland to the south. Encouraged to take responsibility and to help Old Blue, Simon flies in the lead position, gaining confidence and eventually saving her life.

Simon with Two Left Feet offers many opportunities for discussion including the impact of teasing and bullying, the importance of finding a way to contribute to your community and how labelling can effect one’s self esteem (and assumptions).

Purchase this anti bullying book and DVD directly from the publisher: GWEV Publishing

Simon With Two Left Feet DVD (Home Use) at Amazon.com

Shining a Spotlight on Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter

Posted on May 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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image of cover art for Disappearing Desmond, a picture book about shynessDisappearing Desmond -written and illustrated by Anna Alter
Picture book about shyness and friendship published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House

Desmond is the sort who likes to remain inconspicuous. Rather than stand out, he likes to blend in and he takes care to hide his true personality. “Then one day someone new came to school. Her name was Gloria and she liked to be noticed. ” Gloria is not at all like her classmates, she notices Desmond even when he is doing his very best to disappear. When Gloria notices that Desmond shares her taste in books, she asks if she can read with him. Gloria and Desmond companionably share the book and Desmond is transformed. The following day Desmond and Gloria play together, each respecting the other. Before long Desmond feels and looks different – he wonders why he ever wanted to disappear.image of illustration from Disappearing Desmond

Disappearing Desmond has a lovely message about finding new friends and respecting differences. Cheerful, acrylic illustrations will have strong appeal for young readers as they search for Desmond. Very observant readers will notice and appreciate the two posters on the library wall.

Activity kit from Anna Alter’s website

Disappearing Desmond at Amazon.com

Disappearing Desmond at Amazon.ca


Listen As Scully Experiences A Screaming Kind of Day

Posted on March 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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A Screaming Kind of Day – written by Rachna Gilmore and illustrated by Gordon Sauve
Winner of the 1999 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature, Text

A Screaming Kind Of Day introduces Scully, a young, hearing impaired girl. She awakens and opens her eyes to her brother’s face, teasing and taunting. A noisy chase begins and is only stopped when mom intervenes. She is studying for a test and has little patience for her children and their screams. The grey weather outside matches Scully’s mood and, when the rain eventually comes, she wants to go outside to experience the rhythm and intensity of the storm. Careful to avoid her mom, Scully sneaks outside to dance, touch, smell and feel the wild weather. Before long, Mom is at her side and is angry. Once inside the house again, Scully resists going to her room and shouts, “I hate you.” Before long, restorative sleep calls and Scully rests. When she awakens, the Screaming Kind of Day has been washed away and harmony has returned to the family.

After dinner I sit by the open window.
No rain.
The sky is silky pink with licks of lavender.
The green smells full and glad.
I sigh and look at Mom. “Can we go outside, Mom? You know, wait for the stars?”

Much more than a story about a deaf child, A Screaming Kind of Day explores family dynamics and provides reassurance at the end of a challenging day. As well, it encourages the reader to appreciate the sensory impact of a rainstorm and to consider conflict from several perspectives. A lovely story to enjoy with children aged four and up.

Rachna Gilmore’s Teacher’s Guide for A Screaming Kind of Day

A Screaming Kind Of Day at Amazon.com

A Screaming Kind of Day at Amazon.ca

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.


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