I am just returning from a week-long Fabric Art Camp at Ferry Beach, a Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Center, in Saco, Maine, where I made Story Quilts! I'd love to say that I illustrated my entire book while I was there, but that didn't happen, nor do I think it was even doable!! Never the less, I learned some wonderful techniques for machine quilting, got inspired from some other Fabric Artists, and created my third of 10 Story Quilts, as well as began my fourth.
When I left for camp, I had created two quilts. I got the idea to create these quilts from the promotional material that Babara Stroup, our leader, sent out. It was a fun FROGGY Quilt! It was very kid-friendly. Barbara teaches quilting in the Springfield, MA area and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. She had made some incredible quilts not for your bed but for your walls!
I was definitely inspired by others in my class! One made a beautiful mermaid quilt, one made a beautiful flower from a photograph, and another worked on a "dream" for which she had encountered and was creating a visual for it. There were beautiful quilts being made all around me. Mine were less beautiful perhaps, but very detailed and childlike. Each of my quilts had to represent a children's story that was in my collection of stories. Mine also had some three-dimensional aspects on the quilts, such as a grandmother holding a tray of chocolate chip cookies.
My book title is "When Panda Was a Boy," and is a collection of stories that all deal with gender issues in some way. The book is for K-8 with more younger stories than older stories, because that's when children are just discovering their own gender and what that means in our society. The adults in the stories answer their questions in the most "perfect" manner, so there is some modeling of parenting around these issues. This book will hopefully come out before the end of the year. The stories are all ready, and have been edited. However, the quilts take their time to create.
If you are the creative type, I encourage you to play around with several mediums to find what feels right and take a shot at illustrating your own book, especially if you are writing a children's book. Eric Carle has always been my inspiration and now there is the Eric Carle Museum at http://www.carlemuseum.org. Being whimsical in art requires a certain flare and I, by no means have reached that, but will I strive to illustrate again? Yep! That I will!!