Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Elizabeth Rose Stanton

© Elizabeth Rose Stanton


Oct 10 2014

KidLit411 is excited to present Elizabeth Rose Stanton today! Elizabeth's fantastic debut picture book, HENNY has been chosen for the ABA's Indie Next List! Congratulations and welcome, Elizabeth! Be sure to enter into her giveaway for an autographed copy of HENNY.




Tell us about your background and how you came to illustrate for children.

It’s been a long somewhat circuitous route--with a short linear trajectory!

Aiming for a career in arts administration, I double majored in art history and business in college. As I worked toward my degree, I found myself falling in love with the buildings and drawings I was studying, and the next thing I knew I was working my buns off (and drawing, drawing, drawing!) in graduate school to become an architect. 

After graduating, I worked for a couple of architectural firms in New York and then, ironically, in arts administration. After a few years, I made the difficult decision to set it all aside to raise my kids. I “logic-ed” I could go back to work someday, but my kids couldn’t go back to being little. But as fate would have it, by the time they were big enough for me to return to outside work, everything about the architectural profession had changed (little did I know that my classic architectural training would, in fact, someday come in handy “building” picture books!). 



From HENNY © Elizabeth Rose Stanton

So I continued on as a full time-parent—then gradually began working part-time doing fine art, portraits, some design work, and eventually became certified as a scientific illustrator.

All along I toyed with the idea of illustrating for children and was spurred on when, a few years ago, a friend roped me into a class on children’s picture books. I got an overview of what was involved and promptly joined the SCBWI. That’s when all my planets suddenly aligned. In 2012, I participated in the SCBWI portfolio show at the New York conference and next thing I knew, I had an agent. That April, I attended our local SCBWI conference here in western Washington State and one of the faculty art directors (the amazing Lucy Cummins) saw the dummy for my picture book, HENNY. Within a few weeks, I had an offer from Simon & Schuster!
From HENNY © Elizabeth Rose Stanton


It’s been a wild, happy ride since HENNY’s release earlier this year--with highlights including: Henny getting a Booklist starred review from the American Library Association, being invited to read Henny for story time at the Eric Carle Museum last May, Henny’s fantastic launch at Secret Garden Books here in Seattle, signing for all the fabulous librarians at ALA in Las Vegas and, most recently, seeing the French edition of Henny released by Seuil Jeunesse.

What projects are you working on now?

I just wrapped up the final art for my next picture book, PEDDLES, about a little pig with some big ideas, also with Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. PEDDLES is due out in early 2016. Meanwhile, I have some other book ideas in the hopper, so stay tuned!


 Peddles in socks © Elizabeth Rose Stanton

What is your typical process for illustrating?

The early stages are disorderly and somewhat chaotic. If I have a thought or idea (and it seems the best ones come when I’m procrastinating), I’ll grab whatever is nearby and down it goes, so I end up with images and story snippets scattered on everything from sketchbook pages to little scraps of paper. 


Early sketches for HENNY © Elizabeth Rose Stanton


Eventually it gets to a point where it begins to gel and I go straight to the manuscript. Then I’ll jump back to the images and start weaving them in. It is very much a back and forth process. I don’t storyboard, per se. I tend to work in dummy format and keep revising.


PEDDLES watercolor study © Elizabeth Rose Stanton


The final art for both HENNY and PEDDLES was done in pencil and watercolor paper on Arches 140 lb. fine grain watercolor paper. For spreads with a lot of color I usually stretch the paper first--otherwise, I don’t bother. For Henny, I did the drawings first on smooth-surface drawing paper and scanned them in. I cleaned up the drawings in Photoshop and then printed them up very faintly on the watercolor paper. That way, if I didn’t like the way the painting was going, I could just print it up and start again. 


HENNY paper bag study © Elizabeth Rose Stanton


For PEDDLES, however, I decided to do the base drawing directly on the paper, since this time I was submitting the final art digitally. I felt I had a little more flexibility since I knew I could make adjustments in Photoshop.
Final art from PEDDLES © Elizabeth Rose Stanton


What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

The process of writing and illustrating can be as frustrating as it is exhilarating.

These are some things I’ve realized along the way:
  • When you hit a wall (and I have by no means perfected this), try and step away from it. If you let things rest and don't force it, you usually come roaring back, making up for lost time.
  • It’s not a race. Go at your own pace. 
  • We all have ups and downs: seize the ups and roll with the downs.
  • No matter how young or old you are, go for it
  • Be supportive of other people and surround yourself with supportive people. Embrace the philosophy of the Roosevelts, as articulated by Ken Burns, When we all do well, we all do well.”
  • Join the SCBWI. 
Elizabeth's Studio "The Trench"

Where can people find you on the Internet?




Twitter: @PenspaperStudio

Instagram @elizabethrosestanton





What is one thing people don't know about you?

My family nickname is Dewey. Dewey was a character in a play my parents had seen who liked to stand on her head. Apparently, I spent a fair amount of time finding ways to be upside down. I still would, but it’d probably give me a stroke.


Elizabeth Rose Stanton began her picture book writing and illustrating adventure a few years ago, after a brief career as an architect and long career as a parent and fine artist. Her debut picture book, HENNY (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), was released in early January. She recently signed on again with Simon & Schuster for another picture book, PEDDLES, due out in early 2016.

Elizabeth is represented by Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media in New York, and is a member of SCBWI International, and SCBWI Western Washington.

Thank you, Kidlit411 for having me!


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PS- Here’s Henny’s book trailer from Mr. Schu Reads: 






45 comments:

  1. Marvelous! Love to think of what is emerging from "The Trench"!

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    1. Thanks, Cathy! The only thing missing is a window ;)

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  2. Thank you so much for a fantastic interview, Elizabeth! I love your "trench" as well as your illustrations! :)

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    1. I love Kidlit411-- so it is a thrill and honor, Elaine! Thank *you*!

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  3. Wonderful interview. I look at Henny and Pebbles and I just want to be their friend :-) And I have a bit of studio envy!

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  4. Like Yvonne, I also have studio envy now! :) And Elizabeth is so right: you can always go back to work again (or start a new career) but the kids will only be little once. Wonderful advice on the illustrating life too. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks! So glad you found it useful, Teresa. My studio is great because it's so out-of-the-way-quiet, except for the occasional cat intrusion ;)

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  5. I LOVE Henny and Pebbles… both are characters I would love to see in more than one book!

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    1. Thanks, Joanna! We'll see what happens. . . :)

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  6. Ditto on the studio envy. :) I'm drooling over all that storage space.

    Can't wait to read this book. I love these spotlights every week. I immediately get on my library's website and reserve the featured books.

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    1. Thanks, RG! Believe it or not, I'm running out of shelf space for all the picture books I've collected. I enjoy Kidlit411 posts, too-- and Henny is very happy you're going to check her out ;) :)

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  7. Henny and Peddles will be classics!

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    1. LJ! --Sure hope you're right :) Thanks so much!!

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  8. I love Henny! Can't wait to meet Peddles!

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    1. I'm excited for his debut, Juliana. Wish I didn't have to wait so long! Glad you love my little chicken :) Thanks!!

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  9. I am a proud owner of "Henny", gave one to my grandchildren and one to my library. My indie book seller here in Iowa got them for me! Elizabeth Rose Stanton has done some wonderful work for Underneath The Juniper Tree that caught my eye initially. Looking forward to Peddles!

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  10. Thanks for a wonderful interview - and thank you Elizabeth Rose, for sharing your process. How neat that your architectural skills came into play in designing and engineering picture books. (moms can do anything with tools at hand!) I can't wait to read Henny - and can't wait to meet Peddles.

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    1. Hey, Sue! Thanks so much for stopping by for a gander :) And re: architecture--I am amazed at how similar the process is. And, YES, moms can do anything. Right? :)

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  11. I love your office book shelves and drawers. Thanks for reminding us that if we don't force it and take a step back, we can come back to it "roaring." :)

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    1. Or--as I also like to think of it-- it's always darkest before the dawn! ;) Thanks for stopping by, Lori!

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  12. Hi Elizabeth,
    Loved "Henny" and I'm looking forward to "Peedles" (though I think my friend Swinebert [a pot-bellied pig himself] is really looking forward to it a little bit more...)

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    1. Taurean-- I'm sure Peddles and Swinebert will become fast friends! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  13. I loved reading about your journey and your advice is just what I need to hear right now. Thanks, Elizabeth!

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    1. Thank YOU, Sylvia! I'm so glad it was helpful :)

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  14. We love our Henny and Peddles (and their mama, of course)! So fun reading your interview, Beth, er, Dewey.

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    1. Heehee. Dewey SO likes that the talented, most awesome, Wendy Wahman stopped by! Yay!

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  16. Ditto what Wendy said! Beth is a big talent...smart, funny...but don't let her stand on her head!!!

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    1. My eyeballs would pop out, for sure, if I did. Maybe we should try it, though, Toni. Then we'd be even bigger silly birds! xo

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  17. Great interview! Thanks so much for sharing - very inspirational!

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    1. I'm so happy you found it helpful, Laurie. Thanks so much!

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  18. Thanks, Elaine and Sylvia, for a great post and interview. So fun to see The Trench, Elizabeth! And of course all the lovely sketches--best wishes for Peddles!

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    1. Nancy! So glad to see you here (or anywhere :)). Thanks for stopping by for a read and a peek into my chaos! Oink :)

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  19. Congrats on your first book. Lovely!

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  20. Huzzah! I want to win a copy of Henny!

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  21. I'd like to try printing sketches onto watercolor paper, I didn't know it was possible until recently. I'm curious about the details -- is it special watercolor paper, and can you do it with a standard inkjet printer?

    Anyway, wonderful to hear about your road to making books, Dewey!

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    1. Hi Melissa! There's nothing special about the paper; it's the standard 140 lb arches watercolor paper. Not sure it would work on a standard inkjet printer, though, because there might be ink and paper-feed issues. I've found this is a good technique to use if you have a drawing that captures just the look you want (and if, you're lazy like I am ;), you don't want to re-draw it). I will msg you with more details. So glad you stopped by!

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  22. What a nice post. I love your art! It has so much character. You achieve so much personality with minimal detail. Boy, I hope I win. :)
    I'm also interested to know about printing on w/c paper. Do you buy special waterproof printer inks? If so, what kind?

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    1. Wendy! I'm just seeing this now! The answer to your question is, no, I don't buy special inks. The inks that come with my printer are waterproof (for the Epson Workforce 1100). Hope this helps! —ERS

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