Pixie’s Adventure is now out in the world, and I couldn’t be prouder of my debut picture book. This is truly a dream come true. When I signed with my publisher over a year ago, I had to trust that they would find the perfect illustrator to bring my story to life. Enter Kerri Lockwood-Doody. Kerri has exceeded all of my expectations. Her watercolor pencil illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. When you open Pixie’s Adventure for the first time, I think you’ll fall in love with them as much as I have.
Kerri was kind enough to let me interview her. Enjoy!
JG: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What did you study in school?
KLD: I grew up in Boulder, Colorado and was the youngest of four children. My father was a civil engineer by trade but his heart’s longing was to express himself through art. He was pressed by us often to sketch different cartoon characters and I enjoyed his watercolor of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves that hung in my room as a child. Only after his death did we find colored pencil sketches that he did of India while he was stationed there in WWII. My mother was a retouch and color artist for a large photography studio when I was born and loved poetry. I remember a night when she got up from the dinner table to answer the phone, we heard her recite a poem and then inform the man who had called that he had a wrong number. Fortunately he had accidentally reached the one person who had that obscure poem memorized! We grew up appreciating all forms of art. My sister is a talented artist in her own right, One brother still performs with an accapella jazz group and another brother is quite well known in the fantasy art world for his book covers, illustrations and now his first authored book (The Summer Dragon, by Todd Lockwood. Proud of that guy). I was very active in all facets of art in elementary, middle and high school. I enjoyed participating in theater productions, choirs, and talent shows. Quite often I was chosen to produce the posters, bulletins, and t-shirt designs for these events. But mostly I loved music and studied voice in the one year of college I attended. My priorities changed in high school when I found a deep love for Jesus. I decided that I would pursue him first in my life and let him guide my talents. The accapella group that I was in at the time became a mission group and that took me to Florida where I met my husband to be. ( So much for pursuing a music career in Nashville, good plans are not always God’s plans.)
JG: Have you always wanted to be an illustrator?
KLD: I have always loved gifting people with original pieces of art but illustrating books was not necessarily my first career choice. Over the years I have done projects here and there for friends and I have planned out certain projects of my own that I would like to do based mostly on songs that I have written for my children. It is very rewarding.
JG: What other picture books have you illustrated?
KLD: A friend of mine asked me to illustrate a book about how she adopted her daughter from Guatemala. She wanted her to know the story as she grew up. It was a black and white sketch book. I worked as a teacher’s assistant and each child received a birthday book (one page from each classmate) with an original paper cutting illustration of something that interested that child on the cover. When my husband published his first book (The Wonk Decelerator by John Joseph Doody) with eTreasures I volunteered little sketches for the chapter headers. The editor asked me if I was interested in doing children’s books. The first two projects that I did for them, however, were more like parent/teacher handbooks. The first was 31 Fun Ways to Increase Your Child’s Attention Span and the second, The Handy Dandy Quick Reference Teacher Guide for Working With Children With Academic & Behavior Problems (there’s a mouthful for ya!) both by Dr. Jackie Paxton.
JG: What medium did you use for Pixie’s Adventure? Tell me about your illustration process for this book.
KLD: Years ago I told my brother about a book I wanted to do from a song I wrote for my son’s kindergarten class called the Butterfly Garden. He suggested that I use watercolor pencils. I have had them around for years and never got to that project. When Pixie came into the picture I figured it would be a good time to give them a go. I learned a lot about them. The different brands are very different in how they work. I learned years ago how to plan out a project and I prefer tracing paper to computer programs at this point. I’m old school that way. I do the preliminary sketches on tracing paper and once they are okayed I transfer them to the watercolor paper on a light table. I hope to take a class that can help me on the computer drawing programs. Until then my blood pressure prefers the old way.
Fortunately I had the perfect model for the part of Pixie and with my Sony camera and iPad I was able to get good reference pictures of her and the family members. The Internet was also extremely helpful with reference pictures for the different aspect of each picture.
JG: What is your usual/preferred medium?
KLD: I am most comfortable with pencil sketches which is why the watercolor pencils were a logical step for me. I enjoy layered paper cutting pictures and have done many as gifts. Someday I would like to try that for illustrating a children’s book.
JG: What are some of your favorite picture books?
KLD: My favorite picture books are those that I read as a child, of course. Go, Dog. Go! and all the Dr. Seuss books still rank high and the original Winnie The Pooh books by A. A. Milne with Decorations by Ernest H. Shepard are favorites. I love all of the Frances books by Russell Hoban, and anything illustrated by Maurice Sendak but my most treasured story book is The Velveteen Rabbit illustrated by Michael Greene. I’d like to have Charles Santore’s version of that as well. My favorite illustrator of children’s literature would have to be Garth Williams who illustrated the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I almost forgot Kay Thompson’s Eloise illustrated by Hillary Knight! (Now, who could forget Eloise!) I’m afraid I’m a bit of a hoarder so I could go on and on. There are so many out that are just treasures. I just gave away about 100 of my kids old books and I have at least that many left!
JG: Thank you so much, Kerri!
If you would like to learn more about Kerri, follow her on Twitter @KerriDoody