Ann Koffsky divides her time among numerous projects, as an author, illustrator, editor, and art designer – she does it all! Ann recently shared her artistic process on social media as she worked on a beautiful series of paintings. These lovely works would later become the art for a new picture book, CREATION COLORS (Apples & Honey Press). From painting techniques to cut paper designs and more, Ann’s work is truly spectacular. CREATION COLORS is a work of art for all ages – a stunning masterpiece.
Tell me a bit about how you created the beautiful art in CREATION COLORS?
First, I painted a canvas with wild, textured acrylic paints. Lots of strokes, lots of mess. (I even used a toothbrush on some to splatter and mess with the paint!). Then, I put that aside, and created meticulous cut paper designs with an x-acto knife and colored papers. Finally, I decoupaged the paper on top of the canvas, so that the textures would show through the cut paper. The combination of the rough paint juxtaposed with the crisp lines makes for a really exciting look. This is the first time I used this technique, and I am looking forward to continue exploring it in my work.
What was the inspiration for this book?
The inspiration for the art was a couple of things…among them, I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, and see the mosaics of Antoni Gaudi. WOW! His shapes and color blew me away, and his work was totally in my head as I created the art for these images. As an author and an illustrator, what comes first – the story or the art? The answer is…Yes. Both! Before this project, I would always have answered “the story”, as that’s how I have worked in the past, and I think that’s how most books evolve—an author writes a story, and hands it over to an artist to illustrate it. But in this case, I actually created the seven days images first, as a series of paintings. And once they were up on a wall, I looked at them and said “Hey. There is a story in there!”
CREATION COLORS is an accessible story about creation. Who is your intended audience?
Families who want to help their kids connect to the traditional story in a way that inspires them, and helps them appreciate the world around them. The story is all about looking, and appreciating this amazing world; it is meant to encourage mindfulness, and gratitude in the smallest of things—like color. And of course, teachers too, who want to do the same for their students.
You wear several hats – as an author/illustrator and editor/art director. How do these roles differ? How do you balance it all?
Yes, my day-job is that I am and editor and art director at Behrman House publishers. So basically, I work a full time job, and then on Sundays and evenings I create my own work. I think both roles enhance the other. For example, my being an artist myself makes me a better art director; it helps me communicate effectively with other artists. And it works vice versa as well: my editing and helping other authors make their best work inspires my own writing, and encourages me to up my game.
Can you share a bit about how you started creating coloring pages to share?
Thanks! It’s amazing how many people come up to me, who I’ve never met, and thank me for them, so it’s very rewarding. Like many artists, I stole the idea, I mean ahem, I was inspired by another illustrator who was doing coloring pages for the secular market, Elizabeth Dulemba.(http://dulemba.com/index_ColoringPages.html) When I saw hers, it occurred to me that Jewish parents and teachers would also find them useful—maybe even more useful because at the time, there weren’t so many Jewish content kid’s pages out there. I posted my first one in 2010—and am still going! (folks can sign up to receive them via email on my website.)
Learn more about Ann and her work by visiting her web site: annkoffsky.com