March 22, 2016

Illustrator Spotlight: Catherine Rayner

Today, I'm thrilled to spotlight author/illustrator Catherine Rayner. Her picturebooks were some of the first I ever bought, and Augustus and His Smile (her debut book) has always been on my list of favorites. I talked about Augustus a few weeks ago on Instagram, but I'm excited to delve further into her work today to look at some of her strongest pieces of work and the themes that run throughout them.

Rayner has won a cornucopia of awards, from Kate Greenaway awards to the UKLA Children's Book award to (multiple) Best New Illustrator awards.

Rayner's picturebooks are stories of self-discovery and finding the happiness that lies within. Her illustrations are created primarily through silk-screen printing, which is perfect for Rayner since her primary source material is animals: the ability to layer allows Rayner to build up the texture of each animal's fur, skin, and coloring. Her animals always have expressive faces that set the tone for the rest of the story, and Rayner is never afraid to get up close and personal with the animal she's portraying, allowing readers to better connect with her protagonists: the closer-up the portrait, the more vulnerable the animal is. And she always uses the entire spread--I had the hardest time finding even one spread amongst her work where animals didn't stretch between the two.

from Abigail, 2013
from Augustus and His Smile, 2006
from Ernest, 2010

Her images are never stationary, either. It constantly feels as though the animal subject is just passing through the illustration, that we're only catching a glimpse of the animal. It adds a sense of urgency to the story, pushing the narrative forward as we follow these animals through their quests.

from Posy, 2008

from Smelly Louie, 2014
Her use of color is also worth noting. Rayner pairs contrasting colors together well, but she does it in a subtle way, allowing the images to pop against their backgrounds.

And of course her endpapers are also fantastic...

front endpapers from Augustus and His Smile...
...and the back ones are even cuter! Look at that tail!
endpapers from Abigail
endpapers from Posy, which hearken back to the image of Posy scratching the sofa
If you haven't had a chance to check out her work, I highly recommend it!

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