Illustrator Spotlight: Mary Preble

© Mary Preble

Dec. 1, 2018

On the first of each month in 2018, we feature an illustrator who won or placed in our Kidlit411 banner contest, and we switch our website banner and Facebook page cover image. Today we present Mary Preble and her work. (Check out the winners of our 2019 Banner Contest).

Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.
I came to this field in a very strange, winding road. I have always written little things – cards/ditties/poems/mnemonics to help my daughters remember school lessons.  My first-grade teacher was Helen Robinson, one of the original authors of the Dick and Jane series. The Director of Reading in our town was one of the editors in that series. Our school system was very big on stories. But, I went the art route. I am in my 28th year of teaching art to children grades k-12. I own a private art studio where the students sign up for a full year of art lessons – like signing up for dance. 


© Mary Preble



Over the years I have searched for new and exciting mediums for my students to use and experiment with.  A few years ago, I discovered mono printing with the Gelli Plate – where using colors and textures, an artist can create one paper of art. My students and I have used the papers in collage art work and as backgrounds for paintings. At the same time, I have been saving students art work over the years because some day I was going to write THE GREAT ART LESSON PLAN BOOK about my successful school. 


© Mary Preble


Tell us about your published children's books and other illustration projects.

Two years ago, July 4th weekend, my daughter announced she was having our first grandchild. The day she did that we happened to be at a lake and after the excitement I went for a swim.  For some reason…. I’ll never understand why, but a poem started in my head – an ABC poem. When I finished my swim, I went into the house and grabbed a paper and wrote down as much as I could remember.  I still have that first paper. Over the next few days and weeks I edited and changed and changed and edited the poem. I told no one until about October when my husband asked what I was always writing. I shared with him I was doing this for our new grandchild. During another swim my A-HA moment came when I decided I would take the fabulous papers I had been creating over the years and collage the story. I worked so no one knew until the baby shower where I presented the book to her.  It took off. Friends wanted copies, teacher friends wanted me to come to schools to show their students what I have done; and word has spread to different school systems, and I have visited and shared my stories so many times in the last few months. 




My second story, LET'S GO ON A HIKE, is about nature and all the wonderful things we can see outdoors came to me on a walk one day.  This second book was illustrated the same way.  At that time, I met another author and she asked me to illustrate her story about two dogs and their friendship.  Another huge learning curve – where my books are one-page characters, I now had to create characters, in collage, and carry them through a 32-page book with expressions.  




I am currently working on the third book in my LET'S GO series called LET'S GO FOR A SWIM - A COLORFUL ADVENTURE and on the work table after is LET'S GO TO THE FARM - AN ABC ADVENTURE.

Congrats on your banner for Kidlit411. How did you approach this project?
© Mary Preble



I happened to read my weekly Kidlit411 newsletter and saw the contest in it.  I thought, “That sounds like fun, but I am not good enough for anything like that,” so I put it out of my mind. I went into my studio and on the table was a small pile of scraps and I looked at the pile and thought, “There’s a bird.” So I went for it -  in a few minutes I had papers together and created some birds.  I loved how they came together and I saw personalities.  I scanned it in – sent it off and gave myself a pat on the back for at least trying.  Imagine the shock when I received the notice I had placed.  I showed the letter and all the amazing entries to my students and we all agreed – what amazing work everyone did.


© Mary Preble


Walk us through your illustration process.

How I work. I start with swimming – my mind clears, and I can see images that I want to do. Sometimes I head to the pool just to get an idea of a good page or a line. When I am back in the studio I quickly sketch an idea and then start searching my piles of hand painted papers for the right piece – sometimes I will set up a time to just make a certain color paper or texture of paper. I will refine my sketch – figuring out how to layer the pieces to make the artwork look 3-D.  I transfer to the hand painted papers and cut and glue.


© Mary Preble

© Mary Preble

© Mary Preble
What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Work at your craft – even for ten minutes a day.  Read everything you can about the field. One little tidbit in the middle of a sentence can be your ‘AHA’ moment. I joined SCBWI and I love all the info.  I have been to conferences – the first one I was tempted to sit in the hotel room for the weekend I was so nervous – but I listened and learned.  I have been to a few other conferences and again – it’s a learning experience.  I have often had to pinch myself where I am today and how far I have come in just two years. To have complete strangers read and love my books is so gratifying.  I have often said, “If it all ends tomorrow – it’s been a blast.”


© Mary Preble


What is something most people don't know about you?

Where can people find you online?

My website is www.marympreble.com

www.facebook.com/maryprebleartistauthor/

www.instagram.com/maryprebleauthorartist/


2 comments:

  1. This is wonderful Mary Preble. Congrats

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lové your style! And your ideas! Good for you, saving artwork to make lesson plans for future teachers. Love it! (Former teacher)

    ReplyDelete

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