Interview: Illustrator Kathleen Rietz – Desert Baths

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Kathleen Rietz

Illustrator, Desert Baths

with author Darcy Pattison
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Please welcome to Kid Lit Reviews a prolific children’s book illustrator and fine artist Kathleen Rietz. She is here to chat with us about herself and her new book with Darcy Pattison titled Desert Baths.

Hi, Kathleen, let’s start off with what first interested you or led you to illustrate children’s books?

As a child, I loved picture books.  The stories and the artwork took my imagination to places it probably would not have gone any other way.  I grew up knowing that someday, I wanted to bring the same experience to children.  

What was the very first children’s book you illustrated?

My first book was called “Prayers for Children”, published by Regina Press in 1996.

What is the best thing about your job?

I love interpreting a manuscript in a way different than any other artist, and I try to imagine what it would be like to be a child looking at my illustrations in a book.

Have you ever worked with author Darcy Pattison prior to Desert Baths?

I illustrated Darcy’s book, “Prairie Storms”, also for Sylvan Dell Publishing, in 2010/2011.

How were the illustrations created for Desert Baths? How did you get the wildlife to look so natural?

I collected a lot of reference photos, and watched videos depicting wildlife on YouTube so I could study the animals, their movements, and how they act in their environment.  I always begin my illustrations traditionally, with pencils and paints, and then scan the artwork onto my Mac and work digitally.

Who is your favorite illustrator, why do you like him/her, and what do they illustrate?

Good question.  I would have to say the late Maurice Sendak, best known for “Where The Wild Thongs Are”, followed by Shel Silverstein, author and illustrator of “The Giving Tree”.  I always admired and appreciated the sensitivity of their stories and illustrations.  Their books are timeless classics, which are still relevant today, teach lessons, and make children (and adults) think.  I also enjoy Chris Van Allsburg, best known for his Caldcott award winning “The Polar Express”.  I love traditional, hand drawn and hand painted artwork done well.

Using only ONE word, how would you describe Darcy (Pattison), the children’s book author? (You can, and I would love it you would, explain why that particular word.)

Thorough. 

Darcy is quite the researcher when it comes to her books about science.  It was obvious in working with her that she loved her subject matter and enjoyed the journey of learning.

Everyone is going to want to know, meaning me, what is your favorite color? Why?

I do not have a favorite color.  Rather, I cannot imagine what the world would be missing if it were not for every color which exists.  So I love all colors!

Have you given thought to writing and illustrating your own children’s book?

I used to be a regular contributor to the SCBW-IL’s online newsletter, “The Prairie Wind”.  I wrote a column for illustrators on topics such as self-promotion, whether to hire an agent, what to do during a lull.  I do think of writing for children at times, but will save that venture for a time when life slows a bit, and I can meander through the process of finding my voice.

In your busy workload, what is your favorite medium?

Watercolor.

What would you say to all the aspiring children’s book illustrators out there?

Don’t give up.  Learn your craft well.  Do not copy other illustrators.  Be known for your own unique style and contributions to children’s literature.  There is only one of you, so leave your mark on the world.

Any words for my faithful readers??

For me, there is absolutely nothing else in life as satisfying as the feeling I get when I am creating art.  I was born to be an artist.  God created me with this gift, and I thank Him for it often.  My goal has always been that my work celebrates His wondrous creation.

What’s next for Desert Baths’ incredible illustrator ?

Currently, I have put children’s book illustrating on hold and am working as a consultant and product designer for a major giftware manufacturer.  I also am enjoying exploring my talents as a watercolorist and fine artist.

In your photo (back jacket cover), you are pictured with a rather handsome looking creature. Who is this and does he/she regularly steal the show?

That was Sunshine, a rescue whom I adopted in 2002.  I just lost her to cancer in July of 2012.  She was my best friend, and oftentimes my inspiration while I was illustrating “Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!” in 2010.

I am so sorry for your loss.  Dogs are such wonderful companions. Why don’t we end there. Thanks you so much for chatting with Kid Lit Reviews. Tomorrow your (and Darcy Pattison) book Desert Baths will be reviewed. The review can be read HERE! (after midnight tonight).

Desert Baths 2012

Desert Baths

Author: Darcy Pattison
Illustrator: Kathleen Rietz
Publisher:  Sylvan Dell Publishing
Release Date: August 10, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60718-525-3
Number of Pages: 32
Ages:4 to 8
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If you would like to learn more about Kathy, Darcy or Desert Baths follow the links below:
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Darcy Pattison’s website: www.DarcyPattison.com

Kathleen  Rietz’s website: www.KathleenRietz.com

Sylvan Sell Publishing: www.SylvanDellPublishing.com

Activities, Resources, and Support at Sylvan Dell:  http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=DesertBaths
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Don’t forget, the review of Desert Baths can be seen HERE! (tonight after midnight)

11 thoughts on “Interview: Illustrator Kathleen Rietz – Desert Baths

  1. Pingback: Barefoot Books: Early Readers {beginning reader gifts} - The Barefoot Social

  2. Pingback: Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison « Kid Lit Reviews

    • It is a cool cover. The inside illustrations are absolutely out of this world. I thought they were photographs when I first saw them. And the detail, which I love, is wonderful. You will like them, Erik. Oh, the text is good too.

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  3. Great interview. Mom is always a little jealous of illustrators because she draws like a 5 year old. We love illustrators, especially the kind who rescue dogs and give them a lifetime of love.

    Hugs and cuddles,
    Cupcake

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    • Cupcake, I am a little jealous of illustrators, too. Your mom is in good company. I think a lot of authors wish they could draw like their illustrators. The artwork in Desert Baths will have your mom envious once more. But it is a good green, because it shows how much we adore these gifted people. Thanks for being here today.

      I absolutely agree, I greatly love the illustrators–and authors–who live with rescued dogs. I felt so bad I’d asked the question about Sunshine. Sounds like the pooch had the perfect name. There is no love as unconditional as that of a rescued dog.

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      • We are all quite well here. Everybody is getting into the Christmas holiday mode. Which means Walker and I get to wear a lot of crazy stuff like wreaths and bells and silly hats. But we also get to go to parades and concerts and visit Santa! Hope you’re having a nice holiday so far!

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