Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.
This week author, Clara Batton Smith is visiting with us. Welcome, Clara. Can you please tell us a little about you?
I started out in the theatre world designing costumes for Chicago Children's Theatre, Northwestern University, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and various film companies. I was using some collage techniques in my costume rendering and realized I enjoyed making the renderings better than any other part of the design process. Eventually my renderings turned into my artwork. I now make mixed media pieces inspired by various showgirls, religious icons, musicians and watercolor pieces for children. My work has been shown in Illinois, New York, California, Florida and Melbourne, Australia notably with Chicago Artists' Collective and featured in the House of Blues Hotel.
My illustrations can be seen in Short and Scary Anthology published by Black Dog Books, Pocketful Illustration Magazine, Immagination Cafe and Guardian Angel Kids on-line magazine. I have illustrated two books for Guardian Angel Publishing, Midsummer Dance by Bill Kirk and My Sister is My Best Friend by Nicole Weaver. Elliott & Anastacia is the first book that I have both written and illustrated.
I recently moved shop (and the rest of her life) to Melbourne, Australia where I live with my husband, little boy, mental puppy and have fallen madly in love with koalas.
I fell in love with koalas as a young girl when my dad gave me a stuffed one. I’ve never met one up close. I’m quite envious of your adorable picture!
Let’s hear more about Elliott & Anastacia.
I met the real life Elliott at the Ballarat Wildlife Park and became his sponsor through the Australian Koala Foundation. The money from Elliott’s sponsorship goes to save koala habitats throughout Australia. Being his sponsor has allowed me special visits with him when I go to Ballarat. The first time I was able to visit he had a roommate named Anastacia. I was in love!
I started drawing the two koala friends together doing different things and now, thanks to Guardian Angel Publishing, they are all together in a book.
I still paint my two favorite koalas all the time. You can see more of Elliott & Anastacia on my blog www.cbsillos.blogspot.com
The book is available from the Guardian Angel Publishing website.
Also available from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and booktopia.com.au
Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.
- Top 3 books you’ve read in the past year.
The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger, edited by Bill Blackbeard.
Two of my favorite paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago are by Feininger but it wasn’t until recently that I learned he also made comic strips. The artwork in his comics is fantastic. I really love this book because it was also my first Mother’s Day present.
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
When I was little, my mother read The Secret Garden to me. She sobbed through the whole last chapter. It wasn’t until I was older and went back and read the book myself that I even knew what happened in the end. My Dad and I have teased her about this for years. My son was premature and had to stay in the hospital for three weeks after he was born. I would sit by his incubator and read to him. My sister sent him a copy of the Velveteen Rabbit, which I had not read in years. Lo and Behold I get to the ending and start sniffling and tearing up. I kept on but the crying just got worse. Tears turned to laughter as I realized the full circle moment that was happening with my little boy as I read this beautiful story to him.
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
This past year has definitely been filled mostly with children’s books, which is fine by me. Buddy (my son) and I love to read all about Wild Things. A few weeks before Mr. Sendak passed away I found Buddy chewing away at the pages of our favorite book and honestly was not happy, that is until the day after Mr. Sendak died and I read this….
“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”
― Maurice Sendak
- Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.
My three favorite paintbrushes. At one time or another each brush has been chewed to almost splinters by my insane puppy. Thank goodness for my handy dandy glue gun putting each of them back together. Somehow the brushes get shorter and shorter each time she goes on a chewing spree but so far they are hanging in there.
- Top 3 illustrators.
Gris Grimly, Joe Fenton and José Quintero
I love your Velveteen Rabbit story, very sweet.
Clara, though I’m sure we’d all rather hop on a plane and visit you in Australia, where can our tech-savvy readers go to keep up with you and your work?
Thank you for visiting with us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Clara. Best of luck with your art and welcome to the world of writing!
****I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.