The Children’s Book Review | September 7, 2016
Nancy Tillman’s Creative Process
The main goal of most every book I create is to give parents words to say what they feel about their children, so writing text is by far the most difficult and challenging thing for me.
Once I have a concept I spend several months writing and refining text. In the beginning weeks, I have often struggled with the text so much that I need to put it away for a bit. That’s when I begin working on a rough layout. Illustrations use a different part of my brain and the process of working with them seems to help the text simmer on a back burner. When I come back to the text after working on illustrations for awhile, it is easier to know how to move forward. If I’m really stuck, I can often be found just sitting outside on my porch swing with my pug, Figgy. He always knows how to get me back into the game.
It takes me about nine months to create illustrations for a book. During these months I circulate between illustrations, working and experimenting with hundreds of layers in Photoshop and Corel Painter.
I experiment with color… with composition… with feeling… much like I do when I’m decorating a room. If someone were to look in on an illustration in the beginning stages, it might look as if I’ve just jumbled a heap of furniture together in the center of that room. It’s not a pretty process. But I usually have an image in my mind I am navigating toward. As I move between illustrations, a theme begins to emerge that shows me how to make it all cohesive and how to balance text with illustrations.
The last stages of an illustration are the most fun. I love to experiment with different media at this point. It’s also when I take my last go at the text and edit until I feel the sentiment I want is there and makes sense within the layout.
About Nancy Tillman
Nancy Tillman is the author and illustrator of the bestselling picture book On the Night You Were Born; its companion journal, The Wonder of You: A Book for Celebrating Baby’s First Year; The Spirit of Christmas; The Heaven of Animals; You’re Here for a Reason; and the New York Times bestsellers Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You and The Crown on Your Head. She also created the mischievous cat Tumford in Tumford the Terrible and Tumford’s Rude Noises, and illustrated It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Eric Metaxas. Nancy’s mission in creating her books is to convey to children everywhere that “You are loved.” She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Written and Illustrated by Nancy Tillman
We woke up in the usual way,
but it was not a usual day.
Out on the lawn, plain as could be,
stood an orange wishing tree.
“I wish!” I said. “I wish!” said you.
And so our double wishes grew.
Wishes are a magical part of childhood. Whether we wish on stars or blow out candles on a cake, our dreams matter. Nancy Tillman captures the wonder of wishes as only she can, with love.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1250056290
Discover more books like “You and Me and the Wishing Tree,” written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Amy Young, Books About Pets, and Unicorns. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.