Faith Pray is our Featured Illustrator for November/December! Faith was the Booster Award winner at the 25th SCBWI Western Washington Conference for Writers and Illustrators this past spring. Faith is a book-loving writer/illustrator living in Port Townsend, Washington. She regularly wrangles four wildebeest-children, and make art and stories in all her extra corners.
Can you briefly explain your creative process, favorite mediums, etc?
I work mostly in pencils, colored pencils, watercolor, and watercolor sticks, but am always exploring new feels.
I'm drawn to pencils. It's my most portable medium, and keeps me without excuse when traveling to kids' soccer practices and violin lessons. Blackwing animator pencils are quite fun, because the eraser is bundled into the pencils, so I have less chance of losing my eraser or having it get all smudged-up from lead.
I like to add color and texture in with watercolor paints, Polycolor oil pencils, Prismacolors, watercolor sticks, and Graphitint sticks. After I have a base drawing or painting, I scan it to my computer and tidy everything up with Photoshop.
Where do you find your ideas? Do you have a process?
I try to carve out sketch and dream time every day. I read. I fill sketchbooks and notebooks with concepts, scribbles, characters, sketches. It also helps that I am surrounded by kids 15 hours a day. Kids are my daily source of oddity and inquiry.
I have a burning goal to make art and words happen every day. If I miss a day of creative breath, I get itchy. I think that constant creative practice helps grow my ideas.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
I use sticky notes to shuffle a story that's confusing. I switch from words to sketches if my story won't eek out. I switch to words if my sketches need more story. I have out-loud arguments - with myself - and often. I read books on craft. I hunt for story lightning to strike, and if it doesn't, I keep hunting.
I push myself with online illustration challenges. In different seasons, I've enjoyed SCBWI's monthly "Draw It" prompts, Twitter's #Colour_Collective weekly prompts, as well as prompts from illustrator friends.
Who are your illustrator heroes?
My dad, Richard Jesse Watson. My brother, Jesse Joshua Watson. Trina Schart Hyman. Ernest Shepard. David Small. Amy June Bates. Juana Martinez-Neal. Lisbeth Zwerger.
Did you have any favorite children’s books as a child?
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.
Rainbabies (Laura Mehmed, Jim LaMarche)
The Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker.
What’s inspiring you and your work right now?
I'm inspired any time I get to play with pencils and paint. Extra inspired when I get to connect with illustrator and writer friends, meet up at conferences, or have virtual chats. I'm thrilled to be taking a Writing for Children class with SCBWI-WWA's Jolie Stekly this Fall.
Any words of wisdom you want to share?
I really want a magic wand that will magick me into an accomplished author/illustrator, but my best magic spell is still the tried-and-true one: Keep it up. Every day. Don't give up.
And as much as I want to grow into a published author-illustrator, I want even more to be a learner, to create my best, find joy in the making, and spread love wherever I go.
I'm thankful for each day I get to put my creative spin into the world, and so grateful for this booster award. Thank you, SCBWI-WWA!
Thank you, Faith!
You can view Faith Pray’s portfolio here.