VSS Illustrator Interviews

In doing these interviews, we hope to give you a glimpse into our artist members' unique personalities, a new perspective on their wonderful work, and the opportunity to know what inspires them!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alison Lyne

The Visual Storytellers Studio is proud to introduce a new interview series featuring each of our wonderful contributing artists. 

Alison Lyne is this week's guest. Her detailed historical illustrations and playful children's art have been shown regularly on the Visual Storytellers Studio main page. This is your chance to find out more about Alison and how she works.

How did you get started in illustration? 
Alison: I actually came to illustration from the "fine art" world. I would paint paintings, and enter them in juried art shows. When they got in they would hang in a gallery, and sometimes sell. A good many of my paintings were historical illustration, and after many comments to the effect that my work was illustration....not fine art I began to change my focus and paint for the illustration market.

What is your favorite medium? Can you describe your usual work process for us?
Alison: I usually paint with acryic glazes. I've done a couple of pages that explain more about my technique here and here. I'm also adding in more computer techniques as time goes on. 

Do you write as well as illustrate your own stories? Which comes first for you? 
Alison: I have recently begun to write both historical graphic novel "shorts" and picture book manuscripts. You can see some of my shorts here. I am currently working on a picture book manuscript and a dummy to go along with the manuscript when I submit it to publishers. I asked the same question you did ("which comes first?") for a recent ART TIPS column for the SCBWI Bulletin. The answers were as varied as the artists who submitted answers. For me, it's a bit of both. I'll "see" a picture I want to draw, add a few words, then begin to flesh out the text into a story.

Do you illustrate full time or do you also have a day job?  How do you balance the different aspects of your life? 
Alison: I am lucky enough to be able to focus my time on illustration. I've been freelancing since 1996.

Where in the country do you live? 
Alison: I live on my husband's farm in south central Kentucky. He farms and raises cattle, and is also a sculptor. You can see some of his work at www.lyneart.com/FRANK.HTM

Tell us about your education and training. Did you learn more through school or your own experiences? 
Alison: I am self taught. I love learning different techniques, sorta like a cook who collects recipes. The more you learn, the better fixed you are to solve any illustration problems that come your way.

Please list any of your publications and let us know your website. 
Alison: I have illustrated six picture books and two middle grade books for Pelican Publishing.
Evangeline for Children 
Easter Day Alphabet 
Kudzu Chaos 
Halloween Alphabet
Thanksgiving Day Alphabet 
Jacques et la Canne a la Sucre- A Cajun Jack and the Beanstalk 
Bo and the Roaring Pines
Bo and the Christmas Bandit

I also have painted 14 famous Kentucky women for the Kentucky Commission on Women which hang on permanent display in the state capitol rotunda. One of the portraits was published in a textbook on Kentucky history. 
I edit a column, Art Tips, for the SCBWI Bulletin. 
My website is www.lyneart.com 
My portfolio is www.lyneart.com/PORTFOLI.htm

Tell us about your current project. 

Alison: I am writing and making a dummy for a picture book submission to a publisher. This is my first writing project, and I am also using the writing process to work on changing my artistic style. Stay tuned to see how it all comes out.

Who are your favorite children’s illustrators or authors? 
Alison: My original inspiration for children's book illustration was Maxfield Parrish, a 20th century illustrator, for his glazing techniques and clear beautiful colours. I also love many of the past illustrators for National Geographic among which was James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. Of current author/illustrators one of my favorites is Jon Muth who did Zen Shorts among others.

What inspires you?

Alison: A random burst of colour, in nature or a happy accident in painting. I seem to be free associating in a visual way.....but the same technique also can lead to writing inspiration.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 
Alison: I wanted to be a historical illustrator for National Geographic.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
Alison: Right now I'm very much into fiber arts....especially spinning and dying fiber. I started out learning about spinning 'cause I'd read all sorts of references to it in historical novels. My avatar is a portrait of me, in renaissance dress, holding a hand spindle. It could also be construed as being a "spinner of stories" Just like my last name, Lyne, is pronounced "line", which is the basis for my website name www.lyneart.com 

What job would you like to have if you weren’t an artist? 

Alison: I can't think of anything else I'd wanna be.

Any advice you’d pass along to illustrators just getting started? 
Alison: I know it sounds trite but read, really LOOK at artwork on the market, network, join organizations like SCBWI. The more you learn about the craft of illustration, the business of illustration, and the people in illustration the better you can see where you, as an artist, can fit in.