Meet the artist: Cindy Revell
Cindy Revell was raised on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, where she read, drew, built forts in the bush, played with her cats and dogs, and spent a lot of time with her imagination. (Also weeding, picking roots and rocks in the fields, plucking weeds off the electric fence, catching pigs who got out of the electric fence, and doing the dishes.) She now lives in the countryside near Edmonton, Alberta. You can see some of her whimsical oil paintings at cindyrevell.com and at www.illustrationonline.com/artists.php.
What was your illustration process for the May/June BABYBUG Action Rhyme “Naptime”? What inspired you?
My own chickens were a great inspiration, especially since my black hen Clementine had hatched her own clutch of chicks and was being a very protective mother. I worked to give the mother hen a loving expression and to show interaction between her and the chicks. I began the illustration with two rough sketches before settling on my favorite. Once the sketch was approved, I transferred it to primed Bristol paper and painted it in acrylics.
What led you to choose such a bold color palette?
I love to play with color, and I sometimes choose colors that are different from real life. For instance, I might paint a bright red dog. It’s more fun. I’d rather have a red dog than a brown dog. In the case of “Naptime,” the bright reds, oranges, and golds, as well as the use of black, give the art a country feel. The background color reminds me of golden wheat fields.
What can you tell us about chickens? What makes chickens so appealing to you as a children’s illustrator—and what makes chickens such a perennially appealing topic for children’s art and literature?
I can tell you many things about chickens. How much time do you have? Chickens do wonderfully silly things, but they are actually fairly intelligent creatures, in their own way. They love to scratch in the dirt looking for tasty tidbits like bugs, worms, and seeds. They enjoy grass, leaves, and flowers. Chickens love all kinds of vegetables and leftovers from dinner, especially ham! My rooster Vincent loves meat and potatoes, and they all love sweets of all kinds.
Chickens lay about one egg per day and make very good mothers. The chicks learn from the mother hen and begin eating grass, bugs, seeds, and other tasty things right away. Chickens have their own unique personalities. They can be quite comical and colorful, which makes them appealing in art and literature.
Tell us about your path to becoming an artist.
As a child I loved drawing, reading, and creating imaginary lives for myself. One of my favorite things was to imagine that I was a wee tiny person who lived in a little shoebox house. It was always assumed that I would grow up to be an artist. After some side trips as a waitress, receptionist, and in a few other very uncreative jobs, I finally went to college, where I took graphic design. I worked as a designer and illustrator. In time, wanting more freedom and the opportunity to really use my imagination, I become a freelance illustrator. In addition to doing illustration for children’s books, book covers, billboards, CD covers, calendars, cards and all kinds of interesting products all over North America, I also paint very fun oil paintings featuring cats and birds.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to get a child interested in art?
Great question! I have no children myself, but I was a child, once, a loooong time ago and remember always having paper and crayons to draw with. We had far fewer toys than children do today, and using our imaginations was strongly encouraged. When we complained of being bored and couldn’t think of anything to do, my mother would always say “Well, use your imagination!”
Did you have any favorite picture books when you were a child? How about now?
When I was a child I loved all Dr. Seuss books, Miss Suzy (a story about a squirrel who kept house in an oak tree), Dr. Dolittle, Put Me in the Zoo, the Babar books, and too many more to list. Now I love the kids’ books of Lane Smith, Rogé, Jane Ray, and many, many more.
Learn more about Cindy Revell at her website, http://cindyrevell.com. A partial listing of Cindy’s book illustration projects follows.
Partial Book List
“Bouki Cuts Wood” by Amanda St. John
“Room Enough for Daisy” by Debby Waldman and Rita Feutl
“Clever Rachel” by Debby Waldman
“A Sack Full of Feathers” by Debby Waldman
“The Mess” by Jennifer Wolfe
“Mallory and the Power Boy” by Pete Marlowe
“7 Sleeps Until Christmas” by Stuart Adams
“Ten Thumb Sam” by Rachel Muller
“What I Means” by Marie Lamba
“Whatever Happened to My Dog Cuddles” by Heather Sander
“Make Mine with Everything” by Heather Sander
“Robbie Packford: Alien Monster” by Heather Sander