And if that isn't great enough, I'm also giving away an autographed copy of The Pea in Peanut Butter coloring book version. The coloring book has the entire story in the front and coloring pages in the back. All you have to do for a chance to win is follow my blog, if you aren't already, and leave a comment. That's it! Each comment counts as a chance to win. I'll announce the winner on next weeks blog.
Now, here is a bit about Valerie.
Valerie Bouthyette has been drawing ever since she could hold a crayon.
She creates in her studio nestled in the farmland of upstate NY which she refers to as "her heaven." An award winning graphic and fine artist, Valerie continues to call on her imagination and memories of childhood to create illustrations that warm your heart and make you smile. You can see more of her work at www.vbouthyette.com
In her spare time, Valerie does a bit of farming, plays with her four dogs, and is training two young horses. She is married to Dr. Pierre-Yves Bouthyette, a professor at Elmira College and has two fabulous grown children ~ Joseph and Katie Vigliotti. She has recently become certified to teach Elementary School in NY State
Below is our interview. I’ve also included throughout the interview, some of her illustrations. Enjoy and thank you, Valerie!......................................................................................................
1.Valerie, when I saw your sketches of my character, Kailee, I was amazed that you had captured my vision of her so perfectly, especially when we had never met or even talked. How did you do that?
This is going to sound weird, but I just imagine the story as I read and the images pop into my head. I think, it’s the sign of a good manuscript when I can do that.
2. Do you have a special method of how you come up with your visions for your illustrations? Do you go to a special place to give you inspiration?
I generally work with my horses (Reilly, Chief and Clancey) or take a walk out to the river with my dog Maggie. (I have three dogs, O'Malley, Peanut and Maggie) but Maggie doesn't run off and she loves to go swimming and look for fossils with me). It’s so peaceful doing those things and I can “reset” my whole being by doing that.I also think back to my childhood memories.....I grew up the middle of five sisters....what a blast! Our house was always full of good energy, love, patience and unconditional love.
We also had lots of pets which taught us how to be responsible and so that we would all have a special friend of our own. You may have had a bad day at school, or maybe rode your bike to far away from home and got in trouble, but your pup would always be there for you to suffer through time outs...lol.
3. Are most of your illustrations done in pencil, watercoloring, or some other form?I always begin with hand sketched images in pencil. Then I finish them up with watercolor and ink, colored pencil or digitally. It depends on the feeling I want to capture in the artwork. Sometimes I use a combination of all three.
4. Did you have to do several drawings of Kailee before you came up with the perfect illustration of how you wanted her to look? What prompted you to give her pigtails?
Kailee just evolved as I drew her….again….she just flowed out of my pencil effortlessly.
5. Do you like to have input from the author or do you prefer to have total control over what the illustrations should be?
It all depends on the work I am illustrating. Sometimes I love imput….sometimes I suggest things and sometimes the imagery just flows because the writing is so wonderful.
6. About how long does it take you to complete a picture book?
It generally dedicate two weeks to illustrate a book. This is to give me some time to get acquainted with the manuscritpt. Sometimes the illustration sketches evolve in one night and I can’t stop drawing….sometimes it takes a few days.
7. Do you find yourself sketching one page at a time or do you do it sporadically. A little on one page here, a little on another there?
I’ll illustrate a book from beginning to end. This helps create a flow of events between illustrations. For me, it’s like watching a movie in my head as I read.
8. Do you have a book that was your favorite to work on? Or one that you are most proud of?
I love so many of the books I have illustrated. My favorites however, like the Pea in Peanut Butter, continue to make me smile every time I look at the illustrations ~ to me that spells success.
I’ve been drawing, since I could hold a crayon….I still color and I love to illustrate til this day. I’ve always wanted to share my artwork! I love that I can make others happy when they see my work.
10. Do you do any other forms of art other than illustrating picture books?
I am an award winning fine and graphic artist as well. The example at right was in tribute to a firefighter, William Johnston, a close friend that was lost in the 9-11 attacks. He was found in one of the stairwells in Tower One the following November. That piece now sits in the Mayor's Office in Mount Pocono PA and won best in show.
11. How did you hook up with Futureword Publishing? Do you have other publishers that you work with?
Futureword found me. (glad they did). I work for a variety of educational publishers, authors and novelty companies.
12. What makes you the happiest about illustrating picture books?
That I can make people smile! That I am doing what I love to do.
13. What else are you working on now?
At this time I am working on a series of educational books, a book about a magic hat and a boys potty training book.
14. If an author would like to hire you to illustrate their work without going through a publisher, is that possible? If so, what steps do they need to take?
Or www.yippiebooks.com which is my latest endeavor -
I would have liked the opportunity to illustrate for Dr. Seuss….he makes me smile.
And now just for fun:
16. Since we just finished celebrating Christmas, is there a favorite tradition that you just have to do every Christmas?
No hot chocolate til the first snowflake falls
No shopping or Christmas music until after Thanksgiving is over
You must believe in Santa Claus and the magic of the season or you'll miss the spirit of Christmas
Midnight mass to celebrate Jesus's birthday....stay up late (who can sleep on Christmas Eve?) Get up a the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought.
Fill your home with family and friends...have a huge Christmas dinner with Roast Turkey, sweet potatoes, creamed cauliflower, Uncle Bill's special potatoes and deviled eggs!
I bake Christmas cookies, and decorate so every room in the house sparkles with the magic glow of Christmas and the nativity sits on the mantle. A Christmas tree with homemade ornaments and lots of sparkly lights, candles in the windows, and I even decorate the barn for the horses.
17. Chips, cookies, fruit, or nuts?
Love them all….but French Fries are my favorite food of all times!
18. If you could star on any TV show, which show would you choose? And what kind of character would you be?
I think I’d like to play the person that has all the answers and helps everyone find their way. My favorite TV show is Parenthood.
19. What’s your favorite animal and why?
Horses and dogs. Both have the ability to communicate and work alongside you. They bring you peace and speak to you with their eyes. They can always tell when you are in a playful mood, or need a hug.
20. If the President of the United States said, “Valerie, I want you to make a new law that Americans have to follow,” what would that law be?
LOL….that he wouldn’t make laws. People are smart enough to look after themselves.
Oh….and declare that every child gets paper and a box of crayons!
21. Would you rather be fat and happy, skinny and alone, famous with no privacy, or rich and greedy? (not an easy question, huh)
Hmmm…..not easy. Fat and happy of course! The operable word here is happy! People come in all shapes and sizes and we should love each other for who we are as a person.
Famous with no privacy? That would be fun for a while, huh?
Rich? Good ~ but only if you aren't greedy. I believe God gives us gifts and we should share them.... but not because of a law made by the President; because it's the right thing to do.
Greedy – not so good...but those people won't be ever be happy, don't you think? Money doesn't replace love.
22. What do you want people to know about you that they probably don’t know already?
Hmmmm……that choosing being a full time Mom and selling Tupperware were the best memories I have! I was able to nurture my children, let them be creative (you should have seen my house) and follow their dreams.
That was so much fun! Thanks again to Valerie. If you'd like more information about Valerie, check out her website here.
And watch my blog for updates on our new book together, Inside the Magic of Words.
On next weeks blog, I'll be hosting another giveaway for author Josh Baker for his book Please Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses!