HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Illustration Inspiration: Diane Goode

Illustration Inspiration: Diane Goode

Diane Goode

Diane Goode

DIANE GOODE has illustrated 55 beloved and critically acclaimed picture books, including the New York Times best seller, FOUNDING MOTHERS and the Caldecott Honor Book, WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS.

9780060780029_sq-9bfc3e89a4ba75f369dbbdc01bea024ff80c2dc8-s6-c30Latest published book …

FOUNDING MOTHERS, Remembering the Ladies, written by Cokie Roberts

Inspired by …

… the original hand-written letters of the ten women featured in the book. Much is known of our Founding Fathers, but little is known of the women from the Revolutionary War and the part they played in it.  The women corresponded with their husbands and with other women involved in the Revolution.  If their letters had been destroyed, we would know very little about them today.  Their very handwriting inspired me, it was so personal, you could sense the moment in which it was written. The women used pens and quills and brown sepia ink. I used the same materials to form the images, then tinted them with pastel, a common material of the period. My husband found antique pens and I made my own inks, I taught myself calligraphy.

I did an enormous amount of research over a two year period.  Getting to know the period in which your subject lived in helps to inform the art….and my research led me happily from one subject to another.  What did these women wear, how did they make their clothes, care for their homes and their children, how long did it take a letter to arrive, what did people eat, how did they travel….and on and on.  I hope the book inspires readers to learn more about the period and the rich and varied lives of these remarkable women. I think it will.  In her adult book, FOUNDING MOTHERS, The Women Who Raised Our Nation, Cokie Roberts gives an expanded and very rich account of these women.  A great companion book to the children’s version, I read it five times myself.

Artistic process …

Old Pen Nibs & sepia inkOld-Pen-Nibs[The process] changes for each book. The format was pre-determined by the publisher but I was free to bring my vision to it.  I worked on a heavy water color paper in sepia ink.  If there was a mistake, the piece had to be redone. Old pen nibs catch on the fibers in paper and can splatter, just as they did in the 18th century.  If there was any mistake, I had to start over.  The trick was keeping a loose, fresh line, when sometimes redoing a piece over and over and over again.  When I was happy with the sepia and pen work, I then went back and applied pastel with small, soft sponges, sometimes using the tip of a very fine brush to apply the pastel in a tiny spot.  All the art is the size you see it.   Because I felt that what the women wrote was so integral to them as revolutionary women, the endpapers show some of the women literally created out of their own words.  The author, Cokie Roberts, has said that when she sees the portrait of Abigail Adams, she seems to disappear into her words.  I like that!

Abigail Adams by Diane Goode

Abigail Adams, drawn by Diane Goode - color

Founding Mothers, Illustrated by Diane Goode

Favorite place to create & illustrate …

Diane-Goode-studioDiane-Goode-Studio-2I have three studios in my home and I use them all depending on what stage of work I’m in.  During the storm, Sandy, we had no electricity or heat or anything for over two weeks, it was freezing, so I switched from room to room during the day to catch the light and warmth of the sun.  At night I worked by candlelight or by the fire.  I felt in harmony with the 18th century,  the ladies who lived them were truly tough women.

Most used art supply or tool …

#5B Staedtler pencils and Sakura Pigma pens and brushes. Windsor Newton, series 7 brushes.  #000

llustrator idols …

Arnold Lobel, because when our son was tiny, I didn’t know he could read until he picked up Frog and Toad and read it out loud! Ludwig Bemelmans, because he reminds me of my French mother and many, many, more. In our field, we have a wealth of great talent.

All-time favorite children’s book you didn’t illustrate…

Hmmmmm…..that’s a hard one because I didn’t grow up with illustrated books.  My mother read to me from a huge anthology, I never felt I needed to see illustrations, the writing and her voice conveyed the images.  Children’s books today?  Oh, I often see books I wish I’d illustrated, possibly because they were done so well by someone others.

A literary character to create art with …

I can’t think of one, I like to work alone!

Currently working on …

NINJA BABY, by David Zeltser, published by Chronicle Books.  It’s funny.

More Diane Goode …



Outside the Box by Karma WilsonUpdate (March 17, 2014): While waiting for this article to publish, another wonderful book illustrated by Diane Goode released, Outside the Box, a book of verse written by Karma Wilson.

Discover more picture book illustration inspiration on The Children’s Book Review by visiting our pages tagged with Diane Goode and following along with our Illustration Inspiration series.

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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