Today we welcome Jill Weber to our new feature, Penguin Teen Meet The Illustrator! We loved THE CHRISTMAS TREE, and Jill brought her talents back to the Big Apple in CAT IN THE CITY, where she beautifully illustrates a glamorous cat’s big city life! The warm story about a vain cat who realizes the value of friendship really touched our hearts, and the illustrations gave us a bit of nostalgia for the lovely city we call home. Read on to find out what (and who) inspires Jill!
Name: Jill Weber
Book: CAT IN THE CITY
Date Available: September 4, 2014
What media and materials do you use to create your illustrations?
I primarily used gouache, but then I added everything but the kitchen sink. I love the discolored pages of old books which can be found every so often at our town dump. So I painted and collaged with them. I mixed the gouache with gesso and it provided a wonderful base for backgrounds. For texture, sometimes I ran over the paper with a printmaker’s brayer. Finally for detail, I used pencil and maybe even a little crayon.
What’s your favorite color and why?
Okay the short answer is I have two favorite colors, green and orange. I think I love green because I am a gardener and there are as many shades of green as there are plants. My favorite green is the color of the trees in the early spring—green with lots of yellow as if the sun had something to do with that. And I love pistachios! Orange is my favorite accent color and it happens to look great next to green!
Who’s your favorite artist or illustrator, living or dead and why?
This is definitely the most difficult question. I can’t pick just one so here’s a short list of old and new illustrators. No longer with us is the amazing team of Alice and Martin Provensen whose style was unique to each story they illustrated. I am crazy about everything Maira Kalman does. I love her color, her freedom and her point of view. And right now I am very taken with Isabelle Arsenault, Carson Ellis and Laura Carlin. Each brings an original approach without the boundaries of tradition.
Where do you do your work?
If I leave my bedroom and take a left, I am in my studio. It is a lovely little room, small enough to navigate by rolling around in my chair and crammed from floor to ceiling with all the things I love—art supplies, art and books. I have northern light from skylights which also means I can always see the sky. Outside my window right now is a garden full of sunflowers. My walls are like giant scrapbooks with my art, my family’s art and things I have the need to look at everyday. Best part is I get to work in my pajamas.
Aside from the text of Cat in the City, where did you find inspiration for your illustrations?
First, there were our pets. Sadie was the model for Roxie and Maggie, Julie’s dog, really is Maggie! But the heart of my inspiration came from New York. When I first moved to the city, I lived below Washington Square Park and every day I passed through the arch to go to and from work. And for all the wonderful years I have lived on my small farm, I still come back to New York to get refueled. I do love New York.
Thank you, Jill! We look forward to more cat adventures in the big city.
Order CAT IN THE CITY today!