Brook is an animal lover and Karma Wilson fan, what more can I say? Of course I was going to feel a connection!
- Illustrator or author/illustrator?
- What’s your nationality and where have you lived?
[BG] I’m a transparent mix of Scot, Irish, and English. Grew up in North Attleboro, MA til I was 17. Attended college and lived in Tampa, FL for 13 years. Moved back to MA in 2002. My heritage told me to get out of the sun.
- Tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist.
[BG] I remember getting up very early in the morning and drawing along with a little local show called Drawing from Nature with Captain Bob when I was 5 or so as I was always an early riser! Then started taking extra art classes starting in the 7th grade and have not stopped since.
- What is your favorite medium for your artwork?
[BG] I love, love, love watercolors. I love the translucency and the vibrancy yet how delicate they are. I have been futzing around with my line work for years, I draw with a lazy, loose line that does not transfer well for my watercolor, and so I recently started using linocut for my line work. I also love oils, nothing that can beat that smell, but I loathe the clean up. Storing flammable liquids make me nervous.
- Can you tell us about your poop fixation?
[BG] HA HA! Well, as they say, everyone poops! It just seems like it is an ever-present figure in my life. I deal with it on a daily basis at work and home since I work at an animal hospital, worked on a horse farm, and have numerous pets at home. Not a day goes by where I am not, literally, shoveling poop! And I could name 4-5 parasites off the top of my head that could be in that poop. Bob Barker should have been telling you to deworm your pets along with the spaying and neutering!
- Do you have themes/characters that you return again and again to in your art?
[BG] As I prepare my final portfolio for review, I realized I have a whole lot of beach stuff. I grew up visiting the Cape numerous times throughout the year and I just love the ocean. Love the sound, the smell, and the feeling of swimming in that wonderful salty water.
I also happen to represent a fair share of the redheads. They say write what you know, well I guess I draw what I know.
- What books and/or illustrators influenced your childhood?
[BG] I read a lot! My mom always went to the library and we always had a lot of books in the house. The first book I remember reading on my own was Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. My favorite holiday book was and still is The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward and illustrated by Marjorie Flack. The story is long but sweet and the colors are amazing!
- What does your workspace look like?
[BG] I made a great studio out of a third floor room that we gutted. We raised the ceiling, added a skylight, outlets and lights. I love it! I really wanted funky colored walls, but I chose a light grey so the colors wouldn’t reflect and change the color choices in my art. The only issue is there is no sink. I have to drag everything down two floors to the kitchen for clean up. I must admit it is in a constant state of disorganized organization.
- Can you share a piece or two with us, and the process of producing them?
[BG] This is a self-portrait I did in a printmaking class last summer. This is what started the resolution of my line work. I am still working out the kinks in the process.
[BG] I usually start with a bunch of really crappy thumbnails where I start hashing out ideas. Once I am close to an idea, I often list out a bunch or words or items that could be used in the image and start gathering reference images. Once the final idea is chosen, I do even more sketches, messing with layout, etc. and I also put it out there to friends and mentors for feedback. Criticism is my friend. The sketching is the part I loathe, I just want to get to the carving and coloring!
With the final image determined, I draw a clean copy, to size, usually on tracing paper. I also scan this image and print off a bunch of black and white copies for color studies.
I invert the trace onto the surface I will carve. In this case it was Speedball Speedy Carve, cuts like butter. I then used a bone folder and rub the back of the trace so the pencil graphite transfers to the surface. I currently have started tracing the image that was transferred with a Sharpie marker so the image stays while I carve and does not smudge off. Then I carve, carve, and carve. Once ready, I ink up my brayer, lay on the ink and print away. I do a few test prints first on newsprint to be sure I have not missed anything in the carving process, or look for stray marks that should be removed. I print the final image on hot press watercolor paper, let dry and then go back an add color using watercolor.
Originally, I found that the Speedball ink bled when I went back into the print with the watercolor. I have since switched to using mounted linoleum and found wonderful inks called Caligo Safe Wash Relief Inks. They are oil based but can be cleaned up with soap and water!!! Yay! So far they are great! So to sum it all up, I basically make my own coloring book pages to color.
- What advice would you share with an artist fresh out of art school who wants to become a children’s book illustrator?
[BG] Well I am about to hatch from RISD with a certificate in Children’s Book Illustration in 2 weeks, so my advice may be skewed but here is what I know. I have learned that networking will do wonders for you. You will meet wonderful new people who will open your eyes to the world of publishing, who are always willing to help one another and who are really fun to be around. I also highly recommend being part of social media. I know it can be time consuming, but I have made so many friends through Face Book and have come across so many opportunities.
Be a member of SCBWI, the knowledge base there is yours for the asking and the people are AMAZING!
And most importantly, love what you do because you need a thick skin. There is a lot of rejection and floundering that will happen to each one of us. Just dust yourself off and keep putting your work out there. Your work will only improve with time and you never know who may like your stuff above all others. If you don’t love what you do enough, you will become too disappointed and give up.
Five Fun Ones to Finish?
- What word best sums you up? Lollygagger
- If you could live anywhere for a season, where would you go? Hawaii
- What do you do for non-art related relaxation? Read, watch movies, nap, do crossword puzzles and I have started bicycling again. My goal is to ride my bike so much I can eat thousands of calories a day!
- Cats or dogs? Both! Current ratio is 4:1, but has been as high as 5:3! That’s my dog Sally and Bean Shaheen, the evil cat, in my self-portrait
- If you could spend a day with one children’s book character, with whom would that be? Well, they’re really comic strip characters, but Snoopy and Woodstock STILL crack me up. How fun would a day be with them!
Illustrators usually choose a different color to do their replies in on these interviews (whereas and editor is more likely to reply in black!!) so I try and leave their choice of color as I feel it’s kind of telling! What a wonderful anglo-saxon and celtic mix Brook is – a lollygagging redhead! Huge congrats on your graduation in a couple of weeks from RISD and in the specific area of children’s book illustrations! I loved seeing the print making in progress and judging by the beautiful work you have given us glimpses of here we look forward to seeing your name in print. Thanks so much for sharing with us today!
You can find out more about Brook’s work on these sites:
PS #2 in the Snow Games Blog Tour is up on the lovely blog, Parenting with a Dash of Inspiration.