The adventure of making a manuscript/book

The extraordinary in all that is small and ordinary.

While working on a story or sketches/ illustrations I always keep in mind that young children are new here. What may be common or boring to us, adults, can be (or is) new and exciting for children.
Simplicity is one of my keywords. I constantly ask myself: does this add anything to the story or to the illustration. What could I leave out?
Colour is another key word. I love colour. Where possible I use the special character of each colour to support the illustrations and the story; the quietness of green, the power of red and the joy of orange for example. To me every story has its own colour; Sam and the Gnome’s Red Hat is a green story, Pomme and the Pumpkins is an orange story and not because of the forest, the pumpkins or the season but because of the basic mood of the story. Pomme is an orange-red child and her name is orange-red too.
Nature is my third keyword. My inspiration comes from everywhere but most of all from all the astonishing, breathtaking beauty and wonders in nature.

From nature From nature

I love the process of telling stories and making illustrations. My stories start from
- inspiration
- a question
- inner necessity, and mostly a combination of these three points plus enthusiasm.

I scribble down everything that comes to my mind as story idea but I always wait for the idea that shimmers, vibrates and resonates, for the idea that sparks. When I have found such an idea and I have committed myself to it, I start writing and sketching. The stories always begin in a tremendous chaos. Words and images tumble over each other like autumn leaves in the wind, I write and sketch as hard as I can to keep up with the words and images that arise. After I have roughly captured the words and images, I start drawing from nature: I sit next to the pumpkin (and follow the growth process from day to day), in the forest, under a tree while sketching all I see. The intense and close observing, reveals details that are otherwise easily overlooked. Sketching from nature is a way to learn to know my subject through and through.

Admar Kwant

For the figure drawings (gnome’s and children) in my illustrations, my work as photographer for a magazine about children, has been very useful. I was always observing. How do children move. How do they jump, climb, run, sit, stay or lay. How do I make this an appealing image.
If I am not sure about a gesture or movement, I act it out.

Bureau met tekenspullen
Bureau met tekenspullen

I like to work with pastel crayons and pastel pencils because of the soft, dreamlike quality. Together with the simplicity of the illustrations, it leaves room for children’s imagination, something that I find very important.
The colour stage of the illustrations is a phase of careful listening. What is happening under my hands? It’s always magic to see the story take shape in colour.
Because I work analogue I have to be very careful at this point: one wrong line, one wrong colour, one wrong movement and I have to redo the whole spread. I work with many layers of colour to create the right sphere, to give the illustration depth and to make it lively.

Admar Kwant