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!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Penny Noble

This week we have bright happy artwork from a bright happy lady. Don't miss any of Penny Noble's illustrations- they will definitely make you smile!

How did you get started in illustration?
I painted and drew constantly as a kid. My family has always had artistic talents. My mother majored in art and both grandmothers painted a picture or two. My dad was a draftsman and inventor and just missed getting his patent for the push button safety belt. I took art in high school and when I attended  Junior College I took a Graphic Design class. In that class my instructor mentioned to me I should be illustrating children’s books as I seemed to have a talent for it. He was right. I loved it and now try to draw as much as I can. Someday I hope to be illustrating on a full time basis.

What is your favorite medium? Can you describe your usual work process for us?
I enjoy working with acrylic paint. I find they dry fast and I can overlay them as much as I want to. I think the colors are bright and happy. I never have tried oils. I don’t feel I could be patient enough to wait for them to dry. When I start a project I usually have a topic, or get an idea. I just think about it subconsciously for a while. I call it putting it in my memory bank. Then when I feel it is developed and has become clearer to me I put pencil to paper. I trace the final idea in pencil and then transfer it to heavy Bristol board. I outline it in ink and then comes the fun part, the paint. When I’m using the black backgrounds I do them first. Then the colors seem to fall into place.
Do you write as well as illustrate your own stories? Which comes first for you?
I have written and illustrated one book, still in the works, and have drawn several pictures for book ideas. I don’t have the confidence to write the text as I have so many questions about grammar and composition. The ideas come easy and I tend to be all over the place with many topics and sketches. Maybe I should just work on one at a time and charge ahead unafraid. 

Do you illustrate full time or do you also have a day job?  How do you balance the different aspects of your life?
Right now I find myself painting and trying to work on my own ideas. I usually free lance for toy companies designing toy prototypes and concept ideas. With the economy being slow the jobs are not consistent but I love them when they show up. I have sat in on some brainstorming meetings and have been amazed at the talented people that can take the project from idea to market. My son and daughter are grown so they are busy on their own. But my 91 year old mother does need some help and attention so that is pretty much where my time is spent. When the days are rough I find myself running to the drawing board to hide and relax.
 Where in the country do you live? Could you describe your studio? 
I live in Southern California. Both of my parents' families came from back east. I think they were searching for a warmer climate which we have. I have lived in a town called Manhattan Beach for most of my life. We have the beautiful ocean and a pretty terrific pier. I have a route that I drive almost every day, over the hill to see the ocean and what I call “My Pier." My heart always skips a beat or two when I see the first glance.  I feel centered when the pier comes into sight. I try never to take for granted how fortunate I am to have what I call the end of the earth so close. Nothing for miles and miles and that blue, blue water and dolphins so close you can carry on a conversation with them. Wow, what could be better!
Tell us about your education and training. Did you learn more through school or your own experiences?
I always took art in school but my Graphic Design teacher Mr. Bluske taught me so much. Not all about art, he exposed us to Opera, books and other things he thought would make us better human beings. He had a quote that I try to live by today. “Do the best you can with what you have, in terms of what you believe in." I’m not sure who wrote it but I think it makes so much sense! I’m still learning about art by participating in online sites like Illustration Friday, Watercolor Wednesdays and a few others. Of course Visual Storytellers Studio is very informative and fun.  I learn something every time I read the comments and see the creations of the wonderful artists. They seem to know so much about the illustrating business and are willing and eager to share what they have learned sometimes the hard way.
Please list any of your publications and let us know your website.
My artwork has been published in Jerboth Weaves a Song, a story written and published by my friend.
It is about an elf and how his stories are like tapestries that weave together into one. I also designed the tags on the Knickerbocker toy company flower fairy bears many years ago. And I have designed many collectable Teddy Bears sold by toy companies that are mass produced with my name on them. I have sold my Teddy Bears directly on e-bay for many years under the title of Penny Bears. I hand-made each one of them. I especially enjoyed recreating animals done in the flavor of Steiff, a German toy company. Their old and vintage animals are quite collectable. I've made similar ones for those that couldn’t afford the originals. 
I now maintain a blog pennynoble.blogspot.com.
Tell us about your current project.
I have been working on a large canvas painting of a mermaid and tropical fish. She is almost finished but just isn’t right as of yet, so she is patiently waiting for completion. I want her to be mysterious and beckoning. I sometimes find the larger works harder for me to complete as I like to get the art done while it is still fresh in my mind. I also make what I call “Moveable Greeting Cards”. They are patterned after the cards of the 1930’s. Parts on them move with the help of metal brads. I have a store I sell to that loves anything with Mermaids and Fairies. So I keep busy designing new ones. I still on occasion make a Teddy Bear or two and have a small fairy doll I want to pitch to a toy manufacturer.  I also enjoy participating with the fun inspiring sites on the internet.
Who are your favorite children’s illustrators or authors?
I have quite a few Illustrators I admire; Michael Hague has done many wonderful books. I especially liked The Velveteen Rabbit. David Kirk has written and illustrated the Miss Spider series. His characters are so full of personality. I also enjoy N.C. Wyeth and the art work of Thomas Nast especially his vision of Santa Clause. His pen and ink work is done so well and is fascinating to view.

If you could be any children’s book character, who would you be and why?
I think I would be Winnie the Pooh. I could eat honey all day and run around exclaiming “Oh Bother” and no one would question what I was talking about. How great would it be to have a little pink pig, a funny tiger and a silly donkey for best friends? While having a wise old Owl to guide me through life! And I can’t forget Christopher Robin, he would be my knight in shining armor to come to my aid in times of trouble.
What inspires you?
I get inspiration from many places. I love magazines and sometimes something very small or colorful will trigger an idea in my head. Often the item has nothing to do with anything I’m currently working on. I just tear it out of the magazine (not Victoria, or La Vie Claire or any other special ones) and save it. On slow days I thumb though the pictures and then I’m reminded of what I was thinking of. Other times something silly like the shape of a rock or tree or a cloud will light the bulb in my head and start me off again on another project. 
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never gave much thought past getting married and having a family. I was from that generation. I always made things and entered the local art shows but my family is and always was my main concern. After my marriage slipped away I turned to my talents. I can’t say it has been easy but I skim by using my art to bring home the bacon. I’m not trained at much else and really wouldn’t want to do anything else! Besides I have no intentions of “Growing Up” can you think of anything worse than not wanting toys for Christmas?
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I love decorating my loft when I’m not working. I collect pottery and am crazy stupid for a good pottery bowl. I hold and feel it and wonder where it came from and what it was used for. They feel good in my hands and the colors are always beautiful and clean. I have two sets of mixing bowls that were both of my grandmothers. One of my favorites has apples in the design and is a beautiful shade of green. Laughing and spending time with good friends and family as much as I can is important to me too. Being as silly as I can get away with also makes me smile. I feel good when I’m making others smile too. In fact last night my sister and daughter were making fun of me because I said I opened a banana from the top away from the bottom where the handle is. They said the handle was to make opening it easier. I found this so funny I laughed until I cried. Of course they were wrong, how do you open a banana? The debate still continues in our house. I laughed because I thought it wasn’t really open for discussion. It just was what it was!
What job would you like to have if you weren’t an artist?
I can’t think of anything else I would want to do. Being able to create something from nothing seems so special to me in any form. When I am painting I go somewhere else in my mind. Away from the everyday happenings, I feel calm and at peace. My son is also an artist. I used to have a hard time punishing him when he was small because sending him to his room was a treat. All he needed was a piece of paper and pencil or clay and he was happy. To this day I try hard to get my house work done first and reward myself with the time to paint or draw after I’m finished.
Any advice you’d pass along to illustrators just getting started?
I think I need advice from others because I still have a long way to go before I can compete with the fantastic artists that I have seen on the internet. I am inspired by them and enjoy reading their advice to others in the same profession. We are all so much alike yet still different. But I think we all make the world a better place with our talents.
Anything else you’d like our readers to know? 
I guess I would like the readers to know that I’m happiest when helping others to feel better. Making someone smile unexpectedly and forget their sadness for just a moment is my goal. I love walking around the supermarket with a smile on my face. It is amazing how a smile and a little “Hello” can change someone's whole day.  They wonder what I know that they don’t and it's great to keep them wondering!

1 comment:

  1. Your work is awesome Penny. I love reading about your life. So wonderful.