Author and Illustrator Feature: Amy Newbold and Greg Newbold

Author and Illustrator Feature: Amy Newbold and Greg Newbold

I was fortunate enough to interview both Amy and Greg Newbold. They have collaborated and created three books, most recently If Monet Painted a Monster which was published October 1.

Let’s start with some questions about them so we can get to know them a little better.

Introductions

3 Little Known Facts

Hogwarts House and Camp Halfblood Cabin

Amy – Ravenclaw and Poseidon

Greg – Gryffindor and Poseidon

If you or one of your books was the answer on jeopardy, what do you imagine/wish the question would be?

Greg: Clue: The illustration depicting the style of this master of tessellation was the most challenging in the book If Monet Painted a Monster. Answer: Who is M.C. Escher.

Amy: Clue: While standing in the Musee Picasso in Paris, France, author Amy Newbold was inspired to write which book?  Answer: If Picasso Painted a Snowman.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Amy: I love writing dialogue.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Amy: Where the Red Fern Grows.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Amy: Both! When ideas are flowing, it is exhilarating. When I am stuck, it is hard work to get words on the page.

Greg: Art can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Sometimes I experience both on the same painting!

About Your Books

How are picture books important in inspiring creativity in young readers?

Greg: Picture books are often a child’s first exposure to storytelling and art. I still remember the books that mesmerized me as a child.

Amy: Picture books often have unexpected twists or a fresh take on a universal concept. They help kids see the world in new and interesting ways, and I think that feeds a child’s natural curiosity.

Tell us about your books-length of time it took to write, journey, publishing, release dates, etc.

Amy – I wrote If Picasso Painted a Snowman about nine years before it was published. I had the idea while traveling in Paris with my sisters. I wondered what a snowman painted by Picasso would look like. It was a process to get the concept to work, and to choose artists for the book. I wrote a few different versions before I figured it out. The book had some rejections along the way before Greg and I connected with Tilbury House Publishers. Greg had already illustrated several picture books, but Picasso was my first venture into publishing. If Picasso Painted a Snowman released in October 2017. The publisher then wanted another book. If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur released in October 2018, and If Monet Painted a Monster just came out in October 2019.

Favorite line or quote from one of your books.

Amy: I’d say the most important line to me in the books is “What would your snowman look like?” (or monster, or dinosaur). I wrote these books to encourage creativity, so that invitation at the end matters to me.    

Greg’s favorite paintings: Paintings are like your kids. It’s tough to choose a favorite. I am really pleased with my Rousseau monsters and my Dino Lisa. the Jackson Pollock painting from If Picasso Painted a Snowman was probably the most fun to paint.

Describe the character that is most like you.

Greg Max the hamster is curious and able to paint anything he sets his mind to. I want to be more like Max.

Amy I loved learning about artists for my 3 books. The first book has some of my favorites, like Vincent Van Gogh. But in researching other artists, I found new favorites. I love the work of Alma Thomas. She did a series of space-themed paintings, and I love astronomy, so she is one of my favorite artists now. She is in my second book, If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur.

Advice

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Amy: Learn about story. That is some advice I was given, and I’m still learning. But as I work on story structure and character arcs, my writing is improving. Get a critique group. Critiquing other writing helps me see where I can improve my own, and getting feedback from others is invaluable. But the most important thing to do is WRITE. And then write some more.

Greg: Drawing is the key to being an artist. Once you can draw well, all other approaches to art-making become a choice, not merely a style you settle for because of lack of skill.

Leave us with some wise words. What advice would you give the readers of this interview?

Amy Find a form of creativity that you enjoy. It doesn’t matter what that is – building, cooking, painting, writing, playing music, decorating, gardening, whatever speaks to you. And then have fun with it. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are on your own life journey.

Greg– Making art should be fun. If you aren’t having fun most of the time, then you are doing it wrong. Figure out how to make it fun and give yourself permission to fail. Not every piece is going to be a masterpiece and that’s okay. Learn from it and move on to the next one. My best painting is always the one I am going to do next.

Thank you Amy and Greg for a wonderful interview.

Follow Amy and Greg on their websites and social media to stay up with their future endeavors.

Amy’s website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Greg’s website and Facebook.


I am a middle school English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher.

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