What a treat it was to meet Christopher Silas Neal this morning! This Brooklyn-based illustrator shared a little of his artist's world with Mrs. Kosienski's kindergarteners and boy did we have fun! Neal, the illustrator for Charter Oak Children's Book Award nominee Lifetime, written by Lola Schafer, met with us in his studio.
Even when you have done a lot of skypes, something inevitably gets forgotten - like the speakers. Mr. Neal entertained the kids by playing a little hide-and-seek virtually while we teachers scrambled to plug things in! We introduced our school and class to him and then he showed us around. The students loved seeing his workspace where he works standing up, his computer, his bookshelf (he really loves books too!), and his bike. When you live in Brooklyn, biking to work is a little easier than where we live.
Yesterday in library, Mrs. Kosienski and Mrs. Loffredo's classes had lots of questions that they wanted to ask Mr. Neal and we recorded them to help us remember. Even though Mrs. Loffredo's class wasn't able to come today, we were able to ask him some of their questions.
Does Mr. Neal work by himself? Well, sort of. He actually does the drawing by himself, but there are other artists that he shares his space with. They collaborate when they bounce ideas off each other. He also explained that creating a book takes a lot of working together - with the author, the publisher, the printer, and many more people too!
Another student wanted to know if he worked hard? Yes! Sometimes his days are long and the art projects take a long time to complete. Lifetime took him a year to finish! But he clearly loves what he does.
What kinds of materials does he use? Big paintbrushes! A special pen! Lots of pencils that get very small! Who knew that there were pencil extenders?!? Awesome! Acrylic paint and a little roller are also important tools.
Our students had some compliments for him as well. They like his drawings. They especially like the details he adds.
Many, many thanks to Chris Neal for giving our students a peek inside the life of an illustrator!