Nina Rycroft started this morning’s session with a room full of enthusiastic self-professed artists, actors and writers from Grade 2.
Nina’s latest picture book with Peter Taylor, Once a Creepy Crocodile, was the show piece of the session. To get a good idea of what an illustrator does, Nina read the story, Once a Creepy Crocodile, aloud while the children closed their eyes (no peeking) and visualised the story of the Crocodile and a Brolga to see what they imagined and how similar or different it was to what Nina had imagined.
Nina showed how a simple egg shape is what starts most of her animal characters. She also got the children to demonstrate how you need to pull funny faces to be able to draw facial expressions.
There were some great expressions in the crowd of children which Nina used to draw an illustrations of a surprised frog. She added to this a cast of animals including a running koala, demonstrating how she uses reference photos and pictures to study movement in character poses.
The highlight for the children was when they discovered that Nina had brought a 4 meter long crocodile with her in her suitcase! This cut-out Crocodile and the other characters, including a 32 page storyboard snake, from the book were the props and puppets for the children to perform the book in their very own Creepy Crocodile play.
In 1992, I graduated from Randwick with a diploma in graphic design and worked in Sydney and London before turning my hand to illustration. My first picture book Little Platypus received a CBCA Notable Book in 2001.
2009 saw the completion of four years work in a book that I co/wrote and illustrated, titled Ballroom Bonanza, a story inspired by my children’s great-grandfather Tommy Jones (band master at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool from 1947-1978). Ballroom Bonanza was a finalist in the CJ International Picture Book Awards.
In 2010, I moved to Auckland, where I now live with my husband and two children. Since the move I’ve illustrated Pooka (Carol Chataway, 2012), Tiddalick the Greedy Frog (retold by Nicolas Wu, 2012) Dinosaurs Love Cheese (Jackie French, 2013). 2014 marks the launch of my with a second Jackie French titled Good Dog Hank (Harper Collins) and Possum’s Big Surprise (Scholastic, Australia) and Crocodile Crunch (Five Mile Press).
Yvonne Mes, Author of Meet Sidney Nolan and Oliver’s Grumbles http://www.yvonnmes.com