I’m delighted today to introduce one of my fellow Wild Eyed Press picture book creators, Heather Charlton.
I asked Heather to tell me a little about herself…
A long time ago my father found me struggling to begin a primary school art construction project. To encourage a bit of resourcefulness he said: “Make something out of nothing and you will be all right.” His words motivated me to find a different way to make things work, and while I successfully completed the construction, I did not follow my father’s footsteps into an engineering career. Instead, I eventually undertook studies in fine art and have since enjoyed a creative journey in both business and pleasure.
Among various endeavours including raising my family, part of my work life involved running my own floristry business, a commercial art studio and more recently the management of a remote Indigenous Art Centre.
I enjoy the art-making process. Ideas for projects come from everywhere, and I scribble thoughts down quickly. I have written and illustrated several stories for children, have one picture book published and other works are in progress.
Now, so many years later, my father’s words stay with me and I’m still making something out of ‘nothing’ to bring ideas to life. And I’m still all right.
Find out more about Heather on her website http://www.heathercharlton.com
What’s the best aspect of your artistic life? Having the opportunity to spend time working with something I enjoy, and seeing the creative process through to becoming an actual product.
How do you approach an illustration project? If the work is a book, I read the manuscript several times to get the feel of the story. If necessary I research the subject matter/characters, then read again. I make small quick sketches as ideas emerge as some of these may be useful later. When working on a book, I rarely make illustrations in order, often choosing the simpler ones first as a ‘warm up’. As the first and last pages are cornerstones to a picture book I like to leave them until most of the other works are complete.
What are you working on at the moment? I am making preliminary drawings which will become paintings for a new children’s picture book.
Are there any areas of art that you still find challenging? Making art can be both exciting and challenging, but I find experimenting with use of new media is sometimes outside the comfort zone. This is good however, as trying new tools can produce surprising outcomes.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Finding a publisher
What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator? I am interested in many forms of creative pursuit, however ideally I would be sitting on a beach somewhere above the 26th parallel with pen in hand as my best-selling story unfolds, while a long line of publishers queue in the dunes.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an illustrator? To join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Challenge yourself and keep trying . If it doesn’t work the first time, take a break then try to look at the problem from a new angle.
What’s your top tip for aspiring illustrators? Buy the cookbook – ‘A hundred and one ways with mince’.
Written by Aleesah Darlison
Illustrated by Heather Charlton
Published by Wild Eyed Press, 2016
When Hug first climbs out of his mother’s pouch it is spring, deep in the Australian bush. The trees are in blossom and new green growth is everywhere. As Hug grows, the season changes to the sharp dry crackle of summer. One day danger comes to the bush and Mama must flee to protect her baby, Hug. Aleesah Darlison’s tender story of a koala and her joey is delicately illustrated by Heather Charlton. Buy the book here.