Sunday, July 24, 2016

It took 94 audiobooks to illustrate 1 picture book

A glimpse at the messy studio
Illustrators are often asked what materials go into making their work. What brand of pencil is that? What paper do you use? Is that acrylic? For this post, I wanted to focus on one crucial element, at least in my own painting process, that goes unseen in the final work, and that is a constant supply of audiobooks! I say 'painting process' because during the drawing and ideas phases I need quiet, or movies I've already seen, or not-too-intrusive music. But, when it comes to painting there's nothing better to get me into the creative zone than a good audiobook!

It all started back with working on various paintings while listening to all the Harry Potter books read by Jim Dale, who does the most amazing job of bringing the characters to life. He set the bar so high though that I didn't know where to go next. After stumbling around a bit, I found His Dark Materials, (the Golden Compass series), which with its full cast and Phillip Pullman's epic storytelling rose right to the top of my list of best audiobooks ever. 

I tend to gravitate towards the fantasy/sci-fi genres in middle grade, YA, and adult, but I will wander into other genres if I hear something is especially good.

As part of my painting process, these audiobooks have an important job to do, and that is to keep me on task. This became especially important as I was illustrating my first children's picture book, GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN: MOTHER-GOOSE VOICES WITH A TWIST by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. As this was the most illustrations I'd ever painted back-to-back I needed more audiobooks than I ever listened to in my lifetime. I devoured them one after another. Between paint strokes, I was hunting down new series; watching for publisher's tweets for recommendations.

The best audiobooks for my purposes were the ones that had me rushing back to the studio to hear more. During a long project it can be a challenge to keep the motivation going, and getting back to a story in progress was great motivation. In this regard, one series did this better than all the rest during GRUMBLES, and that was Marie Lu's Legend Trilogy. I fell in love with her characters, June and Day, so deeply that I would rush home during my lunch hour to listen and paint. 

So, I wanted to write this post as a heartfelt thank you to all the authors and narrators and publishers who created these audiobooks which kept me company during those intense months of painting. I'm already gathering a list of books for future painting sessions. Below is a list of approximately all the audiobooks I consumed while painting GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN, mostly through my library's OverDrive.com system. I'm a bit shocked to see about 94 books on this list, and I remember listening to some of these more than once. I definitely listened to some of Neil Gaiman's works multiple times. He weaves the most wonderful tales, but he also has the most  marvelous voice which makes the paint flow just right. :)

If you happen to have similar tastes you may find this list helpful. And I'm always up for recommendations. (I know I should start a GoodReads account. I hope to soon...)

Marie Lu - Legend Trilogy (the best!)The Young Elites, The Rose Society
John Stephens - Books of Beginning Trilogy (narrated by Jim Dale - he's awesome!)
Tony DiTerlizzi - The Search for WondLa Trilogy (loved it!)
Jaleigh Johnson - The Mark of the Dragonfly (#1) (an unexpected gem!)

Everything Neil Gaiman writes is brilliant!- 
Neil Gaiman - American Gods, Anansi Boys, InterWorld (#1, #2)Odd and the Frost Giants, Trigger Warning, The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection, The Sleeper and the Spindle, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, M is for Magic, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Graveyard Book 

Sabaa Tahir - An Ember in the Ashes (This one left me craving more, but at the time book 2 wasn't out yet. A Torch Against the Night is out now, and I look forward to revisiting this series!)


Victoria Aveyard - Red Queen (#1) (I know enjoyed this one, but the cover doesn't represent the flavor of the book, so it gives me a weird case of amnesia. I'll have to refresh my memory before starting #2 and #3)


Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #1 (This was perfect to listen to on Halloween)

George R.R. MartinFeast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, Rogues: Short Stories


Process pics of THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A SHOE spread

The funny- (Much needed after all the Game of Thrones):
Adam Rex - The True Meaning of Smekday, Smek for President, Cold Cereal
Mindy Kaling Why Not Me?, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Felicia Day - You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
B.J. Novak One More Thing
David SedarisLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls, The Ultimate David Sedaris Box Set
Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography
Jennifer L. HolmThe Fourteenth Goldfish

The map books (I seem to have a thing for map books):
S.E. Grove - The Glass Sentence #1 (I'm looking forward to books 2 and 3 of this fun trilogy)
Carrie Ryan The Map to Everywhere (#1) 

Michael Scott - The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1), The Magician (#2)

Maile Meloy - The Apothecary (#1), The Apprentices (#2)
Naomi Novik - His Majesty's Dragon(Temeraire #1), Throne of Jade(#2)Black Powder War(#3)
Laini Taylor - Daughter of Smoke and Bone (#1)
Holly Black - The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Doll Bones


Process pics of the GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN cover
As a Hunger Games fan, these were obvious choices:
Veronica Roth - Divergent Trilogy
James Dashner - The Maze Runner Trilogy

Blue Balliett - Chasing Vermeer (#1)

Cassie Beasley - Circus Mirandus (narrated by Jim Dale - he's awesome!)
Lauren Oliver - Liesl and Po
Jenny NimmoMidnight for Charlie Bone (#1)
Lemony Snicket - The Lump of Coal (short story)
Bruce Hale - Nate Macavoy, Monster Hunter (short story)
Various Authors - Infinity Ring Series, (#1-5)
Brandon Mull - Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1)
Terry Pratchett - The Wee Free Men, Dodger, Snuff - Discworld Series, Book 39
Colin Meloy - Wildwood
Patrick Rothfuss - The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Since I was already a fan of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear this shorter story was quite enjoyable.)

Jacqueline Woodson - Brown Girl Dreaming (read by Jacqueline Woodson - a glorious way to experience her Newbery Honor Book!)

David Arnold - Mosquitoland 
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief (Loved it, but later discovered painting and balling my eyes out don't go together. Still really amazing though)
Chris Howard - Rootless
Dean Koontz - Odd Thomas 
Matthew Reilly - 7 Deadly Wonders (Like an action-adventure movie)
Lois Lowry - The Giver 
Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - The Little Prince


Close to the finish line - paintings piled up around the studio
Eoin Colfer - Airman
Lev Grossman - The Magicians (#1)
Charlie Fletcher - Stoneheart (#1)
Orson Scott Card - The Lost Gate (#1)
Trenton Lee Stewart - The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
Karen FoxleeOphelia and the Marvelous Boy 
Angie SagePathFinder Septimus Heap: Todhunter Moon Series, Book (#1) 
Michael ScottThe Thirteen Hallows     

Oh, I also listened to many wonderful podcasts. Some of my favorites can be found at: All the Wonders 


GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist is available for Pre-order from:

4 comments:

Lola Azul said...

Thanks a lot for sharing! I've loved to see your work in progress

Manelle Oliphant said...

This is such a great list. Thank you. I always need more good audiobooks. I'm actually listening to doll bones right now. If you'd like some recommendations some if my favorite audiobooks are Jonathan strange and mr norrell, the night circus, anything by Diana Wynne jones, the screaming staircase and the bartimaeous books by Jonathan stroud and the leviathan series by Scott westerfeld. All of those are fantasy I also enjoy listening to Rebecca by daphne du maurier it's creepy and fun.

Redheaded Stepchild said...

Congrats on the book, Angela - the illustrations look amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your list of audiobooks!

Angela Matteson said...

Lola, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Manelle, I have listened to Night Circus, and enjoyed it (another Jim Dale narration, yay!). Thanks for your suggestions! I forgot I wanted to check out Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Thanks you, Lynn!