RON LIGHTBURN

1. Where do you get your ideas?

I observe people and nature and study the work of other artists, past and present. Most of my ideas are a result of my attempts to be as true to the story as possible, but at the same time contribute something new.

2. How many books have you written or illustrated?

I have illustrated four books, Waiting for the Whales and Eagle Dreams by Sheryl McFarlane; I Can't Sleep! by Patti Farmer; and How Smudge Came by Nan Gregory. I have created cover illustrations for about 25 novels, including Your Time, My Time; My Mother's Ghost; and, The Dragon's Tapestry. I also contributed an illustration to Mother Goose - A Canadian Sampler. I hope to write my own stories in the future.

3. How long does it take you to illustrate a book or do a drawing?

My realistic illustration style requires several stages of development. I use models who pose for me as the characters in the story and I take photographs of them. These photographs serve as reference for some aspects of my coloured pencil drawings. Finding the right models takes time. I usually have to do some research at the library, too. All of this can take weeks before I am ready to start drawing. I do a couple of rough sketches before beginning the final illustration. The amount of time necessary will vary depending on the complexity of the image. Usually I need to allow four or five days to do the rough sketches and final drawing for each illustration.

4. What is your advice for children?

Observe people and nature. Study the work of other artists, past and present. Find subjects for your artwork that really interest you. Make lots and lots of pictures. Try different styles and mediums until you find the one that is right for you. And, most importantly, have fun.

5. Is it hard to write or illustrate?

Some illustrations go very smoothly and others can be very frustrating. Sometimes I get stuck because I can't figure out the composition or colours to make the best illustration. When this happens I end up doing more rough drawings than usual until I am happy. Then I can proceed with the final drawing that is printed in the book.

6. Who inspired you to do your work?

When I was a kid, I read and collected comic books and picture books (such as Rupert). I drew my own comic books and my parents always encouraged my artistic efforts. In art college I studied art history, and focused my interest on the work of famous book illustrators that I admired. My wife, Sandra, is my biggest supporter and I often ask her for a second opinion about the illustration I am working on.

7. What kind of materials do you use?

I draw with coloured pencils (the brand name is Derwent) on coloured papers (the brand name is Canson). I also use what is called a kneaded eraser.


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