Illustration Inspiration: Laura Huliska-Beith, Illustrator of The Goodnight Train Rolls On
The Children’s Book Review | September 14, 2018
LAURA HULISKA-BEITH has illustrated many popular books for children, including The Goodnight Train (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 10 Little Ladybugs (Dalmatian), The Recess Queen (Scholastic), and many more. She lives with her husband and three dogs in Kansas City, Missouri.
I make art because …
Art, for me, has always been a means of self-expression, a way to make sense of the world, a way to relieve anxiety, and most importantly, a way to connect with others. I love making art as a gift, or memento, or some random act of goofiness just for grins. And I have been on the receiving end of such grins as well!
My latest published book is …
THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN ROLLS ON! This is a sequel to THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN, which was originally published in 2006. It was a challenge for me to return to the style that I had back then because, as an artist, I continually want to move forward, try new things and push my own limitations. However, there are certain aspects of that older work which were good to reconnect with. Specifically, the added whimsical asides and more story building beyond the text.
Art medium used …
Strathmore 4 ply vellum art board, acrylic paints (Golden and Liquitex), fabric scraps and magazine bits (for collage), hand painted paper (also for collage), computer (Photoshop) for adding fine details.
Artistic process …
This is basically how it goes for the final art/painting process:
Walk dogs—coffee—stare at blank white page—paint background—panic—re-paint background—trace sketch on top of background—paint in characters—panic—re-paint characters—coffee—in the groove!—finish painting—add collage bits—hang painting up on a clothes line to dry (in my studio)—start next painting. Whew!
This process can take from one day to several days to complete (for one painting). Usually I am listening to a podcast , radio programs, or will have sitcoms like “The Office” going in the background. Later I scan all the paintings into the computer and add fine details.
I am inspired by …
An ever-growing collection of children’s books and anthologies which give me endless inspiration!
Random acts of kindness
Random acts of fun and goofball shenanigans
Anyone who can find humor in the mess (I’m not always able to!)
The beauty of someone doing something really well (like playing an amazing drum solo)
The persistence of someone trying to accomplish a goal (like writing a book)
Small eureka moments like finding a $5 bill in your pocket, and big ones like watching a child realize they can read or say something in a different language, or a school presentation where a new concept *clicks*.
My favorite place to create & illustrate is …
My attic studio…. or the library.
My most used art supply or tool is …
During school visits I always tell the students that imagination and observation are my best and most-used art supplies. We all have them! Next would be the art table my husband made for me (thank you, Jeff!), acrylic paints, and the computer.
Illustrator idols …
So many!! Fine artists like Marc Chagall. Classic illustrators like Maxfield Parrish, Mary Blair and the Provensens. Contemporary illustrators like Maira Kalman , Lane Smith, Marjorie Priceman , Louise Brierly, Sean Qualls, Emily Gravett, and so, so many more…
All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t illustrate…
THE STINKY CHEESE MAN
I love the funny, subversive text (by Jon Scieszka) and how Lane Smith was able to create absolutely gorgeous illustrations while also making them humorous. His exaggeration of characters and use of sophisticated color palette is genius!
A literary character to create art with …
One of the WILD THINGS! They would really shake things up in my studio and undoubtedly add some fun. I’m sure we would make a big mess but I think that would be a good thing. One student during a school visit said “you really can’t create something great without making a mess, c an you?” (about the creative process in general) and I find that to be true on so many levels. At least, I have to be willing to make a mess…. that’s usually the way to the good, fun stuff (for me).
Currently working on …
Writing my own stories and exploring art beyond the book. I am working on trusting the creative process and trying to collage together new approaches to storytelling.
In the meantime, I am training a new puppy in the art of outside toiletry and respect for her elders (specifically, our special, 10 year old dachshund /terrier who is hearing impaired). They are both inspiration for writing.
Finally, I am creating illustrations for a third book, SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN, which will come out next year. It’s been fun painting snow in the middle of July!
To learn more about Laura Huliska-Beith and ‘The Goodnight Train Rolls On,’ visit:
Written by June Sobel
Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Publisher’s Synopsis: All aboard! This colorful companion to The Goodnight Train is leaving the station, with new nighttime hi-jinks and all the rhyme and rhythm that made the first book a bedtime read-aloud favorite.
When a herd of poky sheep slows the Goodnight Train to a crawl, the Engineer’s quick thinking (and counting!) has them rolling along in no time—until one tricky sheep sends the train and its sleepy passengers tossing and turning! The clickety-clack cadence of the poetic text is sure to lull listeners to sleep, but not before they take in the candy-colored landscapes full of delightful Dreamland details to discover. All aboard!
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | September 4 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1328500199
Discover more picture book illustration inspiration and books like The Goodnight Train Rolls On, written June Sobel and Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our Illustration Inspiration series and articles tagged with Bedtime Stories, Laura Huliska-Beith, Rhyming Text, Trains, and Transportation.