Inside the Studio with Laura Huliska-Beith, Illustrator of The Goodnight Train Rolls On
The Children’s Book Review | October 24, 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.
Inside Laura Huliska-Beith’s Studio
Ever since we moved in to our old house in Kansas City, I knew I wanted to convert the attic to an art studio some day. The only way to get up there was to knock out the ceiling of the small sun room (my old studio) and add a spiral staircase. This fixture was later dubbed “the pizza-shaped-stairs” by a group of young artists who came over for a workshop years back. I love that description!
Up against a brick chimney, smack dab in the middle of the room, is a sewing machine for special projects.
Behind the brick chimney sits a large worktable my husband made for me which is invaluable (thanks, Jeff!), and always has different projects going on at different ends. Unless I’m working on a book— then it’s consumed by paints, water buckets, ½ painted art boards, and scraps of fabric and painted paper.
The floor houses several dog beds where you can find a dog or two always eager to help out with art direction (or art consumption— we have a 7 month old puppy who loves to CHEW!).
I’ve collected art objects around me that have personal meaning; masks, books, quilts, paintings and drawings by family, friends, and artists I love and admire. A quilt by Yvonne Wells greets me every morning as I climb the pizza-shaped stairs and it just makes me smile!
Laura Huliska-Beith’s Creative Process
The creative process begins with printing out and reading the manuscript sent to me by the editor. First, I’ll let the imagery wash over me like a movie. Then I’ll read the script again and jot down notes and sketches and whatever first comes to mind.
The characters are usually the first images that I’ll try to figure out. Once they are in place (after many revisions), I’ll move on to sketch each page, using tracing paper to make more versions of the same scene, very loosely.
Then to the computer where I’ll scan those sketches and rework the same image until it’s just right, with the right amount of details, making sure there is space for the text.
Sometimes I will print out all the sketches to make a book dummy. It’s so helpful to be able to physically turn the pages of a book to help determine the flow of the story.
For THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN (and the two follow-up books), the final art was painted with acrylic paints on Strathmore vellum illustration board. The background always comes first. Some elements are painted separately on paper and cut out, and others are painted directly on the board.
When the paintings are done, they are hung up on a clothesline so I can see how things are flowing, and if colors and layouts are working together.
The paintings are scanned in the computer and fine details are added before the art is sent off (either mailed physically or sent digitally). It’s an intense process, and my studio gets pretty messy, but I sure miss the characters once the book is finished! Then back down the pizza-shaped stairs to walk the dogs and say hello to rest of the world.
Photo Credit: Jeff Beith
Learn More About Stephanie Graegin
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 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 articles tagged with Bedtime Stories, Laura Huliska-Beith, Rhyming Text, Trains, and Transportation. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.