Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Jeanette Stampone!

Today we’re thrilled to have passionate author and up-and-coming illustrator extraordinaire, Jeanette Stampone on the blog! Jeanette is the author of Shadow and the Girl and soon-to-be-released The Dragon Guest Handbook, as well as one of our contributors in Our Australian HeART. Her piece, After the Fire, symbolically represents a sense of hope and regeneration following the real-life tragedy of a bushfire in WA. Created with paper and canvas collage and digital brushes, this black and white scene with its pop of green is a breathtaking piece of magic that captures so much life in its simplicity. We are in awe of your beautiful work, Jeanette! 🙂

About the Author / Illustrator

Jeanette Stampone was born in a spooky three-hundred-year-old house in England where she grew up with stories of local legends, pixies, ghosts, and fairies. It was the perfect setting for creativity! She now lives in a small country town in Western Australia with her husband and two boys. 

Jeanette began her creative journey as a writer. In 2022, her debut picture book, Shadow and the Girl was released by Red Paper Kite. Her second book, The Dragon Guest Handbook will be published by Wombat Books.

In recent years, Jeanette has developed her illustration skills and particularly loves digital collage. She imports fabric and painted textures into her digital work, resulting in a multi-layered collage effect. Her drawing style is sketchy and loose, giving movement and charm to her little characters. 

Jeanette is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA).

Please visit Jeanette Stampone at her website: www.jeanettestampone.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

Our Australian HeART can be purchased via the Just Write For Kids Australia website.

Jeanette, thank you for joining me to chat about your amazing work!

Thank you for inviting me!

How did you come to be an artist?

I have loved to draw for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would sketch characters and stories whenever I could. If I didn’t have drawing paper, I would sketch down the sides of my dad’s newspaper! My family were very supportive and always told me I should be an artist when I grew up, but I never really had the confidence in myself to take it seriously. As I got older, I concentrated on more realistic portraits as I felt the little characters I used to draw were childish. It wasn’t until very recently that I began to think differently. I joined SCBWI, began writing children’s books, and slowly regained the joy of sketching characters, just like I did when I was a child. It’s funny how life comes full circle.

What does art and illustrating children’s books mean to you?

Connecting to kids and getting them exciting about reading and books is the best reward. I have beautiful memories of sharing stories with my mother and it’s amazing to think that a child could be snuggling down to read one of my own books.

I always feel like illustrating for kids means you never really grow up! You’re always thinking on a child’s level about what’s fun and interesting.

Tell us a bit about your published works.

The Our Australian HeArt anthology contains my first published illustration! I am also an author to two picture books, Shadow and the Girl published by Red Paper Kite, and Dragon Guest Handbook out later this year with Wombat Books. I would love to write AND illustrate a picture book one day.

What does your illustration process look like?

I have shared a video of my illustration process (below). It seemed the easiest way to demonstrate what I do! The video shows how I start with a really rough sketch and use that as a starting point. I will import it into Procreate and then use it as a guide until I am happy. There’s lots of erasing and the undo button gets a great workout! The video also shows how I use imported fabric texture into my work. I have a big bag of fabric scraps and often use them to create a collage effect in my digital work.

What drew you to enter the Just Write For Kids’ Picture It! Anthology Competition?

It sounded like a wonderful opportunity to be involved in something really special. It was a chance to have my work published in an anthology, collaborate with other creatives and take a step further in my goal of becoming an illustrator. I also loved the fact that proceeds were being donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Overall, the competition gave me a good feeling that it was a worthwhile and exciting opportunity not to be missed!

Your entry, After the Fire, was selected as one of our pieces for the anthology. We love it! What does it mean to you to be included?

Thank you! It has given me a real confidence boost. As creatives, we often wonder if we’re good enough. I think it goes with the territory! But when I found out I was included in the anthology, it made me realise that my work was good enough and it gave me that little boost I needed to throw myself into a new picture book project for 2024! It really meant a lot to me.

Why were you inspired to create this piece?

After the Fire is inspired by a bushfire which swept through our local area in 2016. We left our home through smoke and wild winds, with the glow of the fire pulsing in the distance. 

We were the lucky ones though. The neighbouring town of Yarloop was virtually wiped out. It was devastating. 

But it wasn’t long before the bush began to recover. Bright leaves shot out from the blackened tree trunks. Having grown up in England, I’d never seen anything like it. The green leaves were so striking against the burnt bark. It gave me an immediate sense of hope and comfort. 

I created my piece digitally using Procreate. The blackened trees and ground were created by importing painted canvas and paper. This technique helped produce varied textures for a burnt look. The rest of the image and details were created with digital brushes. I used an ink brush to draw the girl. This resulted in a soft, sketchy style which contrasted against the solid, dark trees. â€‹â€‹

It was a lovely piece to create, and I very much enjoyed the time spent working on it.

In what other ways do you spread the joy of art to children?

When I do school talks, I combine storytelling with art to get the kids to create their own characters. I use a character from one of my stories as a starting point and then let the kids develop that character into something new and completely unique. It’s a really fun process and I love seeing what they come up with.

Thanks so much, Jeanette! It’s been an honour! 😊

Thank you, Romi! It’s been lovely talking to you.

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #shadowandthegirl #thedragonguesthandbook #picturebooks #justkidslit

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