Sherri Winans
Whatcom Community College
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For this think piece assignment, Alexandrea went to the art exhibit, "An Imaginary Library: Children's Books That Do Not (Yet) Exist," at Western Washington University's library: illustrators from around the world had been asked to create a picture for a book they might like to write/illustrate, a book that does not yet exist on library shelves.  Alexandrea then started her own book, illustrating the cover and creating the book jacket; for the reflective part of the assignment, she wrote her own imaginary interview with the author.

Alexandrea Rossing
English 225
Think Piece 3
February 2010

 

Alexandrea Rossing
English 225
Think Piece 3
February 2010

An Interview with Author/Illustrator Alexandrea Rossing

Sherri Winans is a professor at Whatcom Community College.  She teaches a Children’s Literature course.  Sherri will be interviewing Alex about her upcoming book release, Viajando con Dientes, ¡España!

Sherri:  “First of all, tell me about the title of the book.  How did you come up with it? Obviously it is in another language…what does it mean?”

Alex:  “Viajando con Dientes, ¡España! is Spanish and means “Traveling with Teeth, Spain!”  The little Caballo (or horse) is named “Teeth”.  I didn’t come up with that name.  My friend María, from Spain, did.  She was the inspiration for this project.  María actually has a blog about the little horse and takes him all over the world with her and puts him in her scenic pictures.  One day, she and I were discussing the possibility of a book about Dientes and I came up with the idea of him searching for everything horse while he is traveling.  I thought it would be fun for Dientes to search for specific horses in certain countries and get a geography/tourism/horse lesson all at the same time. ”

Sherri:  “Does Dientes look just like her horse?” 

Alex:  “Yes, he looks almost the same.  Her version is made out of wood and wears a tan vest.  I wanted him to be a little more colorful for children so I changed the color of his legs and dressed him in denim, which I think is more fitting for a horsey.  Also, I don’t see any hair in her pictures of Dientes.  So I added it.  I think he looks better with hair.”

Sherri:  “How long have you been an illustrator?”

Alex:  “This is the first book I have written AND illustrated.  However, art has always played an important part in my life.  As a young girl, I would draw and sketch on everything…newspapers, mail, theater tickets, sidewalks, walls (but don’t tell my mom…I always denied it was me), and simply anything that had a flat, clear drawing surface.  I even remember sitting in various classrooms, doodling on paper (and desktops if I didn’t have paper), while the teachers were lecturing.  I even got in trouble quite often because I “wasn’t on task”.  Grrr…I hated tasks!”

Sherri:  “Did you attend “An imaginary library: Children’s books that do not (yet) exist,” at Western Washington University?”

Alex:  “You bet I did! And I still can’t get those wonderfully creative images out of my head!  I want to design a hundred more book jackets!  I love visiting any artist’s exhibits.  It inspires me and I can’t even sleep at night sometimes because of all the ideas traveling in and out of my head.  And it’s not always a good thing either, because I miss out on a lot of sleep and feel drained the next day.  For that reason, I keep a notebook by my bed and even in the dark; I’ll lean over and jot something down just so I won’t forget about it by morning.”

Sherri:   What are some of the ideas that you have? 

Alex:  “Most of the ideas that come to me are fine-arts related.  For example, I went and bought a huge collection of pastels the week after visiting the exhibit at Western, because it’s a medium I have not worked with very often and have always wanted to learn to master.  Before going to bed that night, my mind was filled with a few different images that I could manipulate the pastels into when I get a chance.” 

“Another idea I have been constantly working on is a special project, with my 19 year-old daughter Lauren (who is also fine-arts possessed), that will be an exciting new Musical.   We have taken one of our favorite books and are converting it into theater, movement, melody, luminescence, and costume.  Lauren and I have been writing it for sometime now and I receive ideas and inspiration for it almost daily!  And I’m sorry, I can’t tell you what the book is or what it’s about…we are both sworn to secrecy.” 

Sherri:  “How long did it take you to put together the book jacket?”

Alex:  “I did both of the sketches, the flecked background, the scrollys, and the tiny horseshoes in a weekend.  Then I typed up front and back leaf information and pulled the pictures of me and the Andalusian horse from personal files to add and my brother (who owns a business called Storybook Homes and designs the most “charming” cottages EVER - see them at storybookhomes.biz) actually helped me with the layout and printed the jacket on his big plotter.  We had a blast doing it together.  His creative mind and my mind always just TAKE OFF on any projects we collaborate on!”

Sherri:  “Is the information about you, found on the back leaf, true?”

Alex:  “Yes, Sherri, it’s all true.  I DID take riding lessons AND own my own Arabian horse named Jamaica.  I miss that.  I’ve done riding now and then, but with family life and having children there hasn’t been a lot of time.  I’ll probably hit my mid-life-crisis here soon and buy a convertible Porsche AND an Andalusian horse!”

Sherri:  “Is there anything you would have done differently?”

Alex:  “Yes, I would have done both of the illustrations in watercolor, which is one of my favorite mediums to use.  But because watercolors require many layers and drying times and due to the time restraints, I decided to use colored pencils instead.  There are also a few art errors. But I think only me and my perfectionist self would be able to notice them.  But I’ll tell you what they are anyways.”

“I wouldn’t have put the brown door behind Dientes on the front cover.  His color blends into it too much.  I didn’t even notice it at first, but the more I looked at it, the more I was bothered by it.  On the back cover, I did a similar mistake and put Dientes around too much red.  You can barely make out the red tulip in his mouth!  Also, is he wearing red chaps? NOOOOO!  He simply has too much red in the area.  I should have done a contrasting color.  AND I forgot to change it with the Photo Shop my brother and I were using!”

Sherri:  “Tell me what you have learned from this project.”

Alex:  “I have learned that this has been a really fun task to stay on!”

Copyright 2010
Alexandrea Rossing

 

Funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education, Title III Grant PO31A980143
Sherri Winans, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA
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