Welcome to the blog, Susan Stockdale!
I have always
been fascinated by the patterns and colors found in nature. Before becoming a
children’s book author/illustrator, I worked as a textile designer for the
apparel industry. Today, I am always looking for book themes that will allow me
to express my passion for pattern and color in my artwork.
The idea for Stripes of All Types came to me as I
gazed at a fiesta-colored poisonous frog in the “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors”
exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History. The frog’s colorful
stripes alert potential predators that it is toxic and to stay away.
Interesting! I decided then to create a picture book about striped animals
around the world and how they benefit from their stripes.
With my book
concept established, I followed my usual approach to writing and illustrating
and researching the animals to include in it;
• Writing the
text in rhythmic, alliterative rhyme (my favorite);
• Writing an
addendum with more information about the animals:
• Creating drawings
of all the images;
• Vetting my
text and images with scientists to ensure factual accuracy; and
• Painting the images in acrylic paint on paper,
a 9-month to 1-year process.
For this book, I added something new: a guessing game for
children to match the 19 different stripe patterns to their respective animals
from the text (answers are provided.)
It was fun
deciding which animals to include in Stripes
of All Types. For each line of text, such as animals “on the ground,” I had
many candidates to choose from, ranging from the zebra-striped mouse to the eastern
garter snake. I selected the animals that I thought would be most intriguing to
children, add to the wholeness of the book, and be fun for me to paint. After
all, it takes me more than a week to paint each image, and I want to enjoy the
I created as
many as 20 sketches before arriving at a final image for each animal. Here is the
progressive development of my okapi illustration:
I’m currently working on a book about spotted
animals. Peachtree will publish it in 2015. Stay tuned!
Labels: Animals, Authors, Blog Tours, Guest Posts, Nature, Picture books