April 13, 2021

Let's Talk Illustrators #173: EB Goodale

I was so excited to chat with EB Goodale about her newest picture book The House of Grass and Sky, written by Mary Lyn Ray. EB breathes life and joy into to the titular house, and she gets a chance to showcase a wide range of significant moments with delicacy and curiosity that has viewers longing for more. Enjoy our conversation!

About the book:
Every house has a story. This house--an old one hunkered in the deep grass below a wide country sky--is a waiting house. Once it was full of laughter and song. The sounds of life rang within its walls. Now it stands quiet and still. The house has sheltered many families over the years and remembers them fondly, especially the children. New families arrive to look, but none stay. Perhaps the house, too, now belongs to the Long Ago and Used to Be?

Peek underneath the dust jacket:

Let's talk EB Goodale!

LTPB: How did you become the illustrator of The House of Grass and the Sky? What were the first images that popped into your mind when you saw Mary Lyn Ray’s text? What ended up being the most exciting and/or challenging parts of the book to illustrate?

EBG: I was asked to illustrate The House of Grass and Sky by Candlewick, who I had worked with before for my first book, Windows. The text was so unique and quiet with a lot of heart, which I’ve come to realize is my preferred formula for a picture book!

The first image that came to my mind as I read the words was one of a tiny house in a field with a big, lonely sky. That initial image ended up in the finished book as a starry moonlit landscape. Actually, that same moonlit image ended up being my favorite one to illustrate. I think it captures the longing feeling of the house. A fun detail about that scene: the moon is my fingerprint where I wiped away the ink!

LTPB: How do you keep your process fresh with every new book? How do you make a conscious effort to tailor your illustration style to each new manuscript?

EBG: Keeping things fresh and tailoring my style comes quite naturally for each book. I tend to get bored doing things the same way twice, so with each new project I look for slightly different or improved ways to bring it all together. Each book comes to me with a feeling and I try to listen to what it is asking for…it is quite an intuitive process for me. I also use a lot of printmaking in my work, which by nature keeps things unpredictable and fresh!

LTPB: What differences have you found between creating a picture book on your own (text and illustrations) versus illustrating someone else’s text? Do you enjoy one over another?

EBG: Writing and illustrating is a more intense process for me…and tends to take over my life in a greater way than when I’m illustrating someone else's text. Since the story has come from somewhere deep inside me, it tends to feel more emotionally draining, but also hugely satisfying to see something through from the very beginning to the very end.

Illustrating another author’s text feels more like solving a puzzle…it still takes over my life for a bit, but just not a fully as working on one of my own books. The thing I love about both processes is that you get to escape into another world and just LIVE there for the whole time you are working on it.

LTPB: What did you use to create the illustrations in this book? Is this your preferred medium?

EBG: I made the backgrounds using monoprint and the line work and details with ink and watercolor, then layered them together digitally. With each book I always incorporate some kind of printing…usually monoprint, which is definitely my preferred technique. The nature of monoprint always adds great texture and atmosphere.

LTPB: What are you working on now? Anything you can show us?

EBG: My next author/illustrated book, Also, comes out February 2022 with HMH and I’m working on illustrations for Goodnight Little Bookstore by Amy Cherrix for Candlewick Press, which comes out Fall 2022.

LTPB: If you got the chance to write your own picture book autobiography, who (dead or alive!) would you want to illustrate it, and why?

EBG: What a fun question! Hands down I would choose Evaline Ness to illustrate my autobiography. She is such an inspiration to me in every way. She was truly a master of printmaking style and technique. I want my life to look like her art!

A million thanks to EB for taking time to answer questions about this gorgeous book! The House of Grass and Sky publishes from Candlewick Press TODAY!

Special thanks to EB and Candlewick for use of these images!

THE HOUSE OF GRASS AND SKY. Text copyright © 2021 by Mary Lyn Ray. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by E.B. Goodale. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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