Jennifer Lavallee has an amazing book coming out (May 17th) called NATURE IS AN ARTIST. Read on to find out more about Jennifer and her wonderful art and nature inspired book.
Illustrations by Natalia Colombo.
📚Pancakes or waffles?
Oh, waffles for sure. How can you beat little cups of warm butter and syrup that you get with a waffle breakfast? I will say, however, that the waffle iron clean-up is much more intensive than it is when you make pancakes so perhaps a pancake breakfast does, occasionally, make more sense.
📚Do you like musicals?
No, not really. Though, I was in a production of Grease when I was younger and it was quite fun.
📚What’s the best way to spend a day off?
I love no pressure days–we don’t have to run off to any appointments or do laundry. School is out and no work. I think a great way to enjoy a day off would be spending time with my family, maybe going to do something we all like to do, like visiting with friends or checking out the museum or the science centre. Then coming home to some good food and curling up on the couch to watch a movie.
📚What’s your favorite place to visit?
My parents live out at the Lake and I love visiting them because it’s always such a relaxed atmosphere. There’s also a golf course where they are and on Saturdays there’s always a cute little farmer’s market set up. I love that the kids have their “lake friends” there and that we can all sit around the fire and visit. I look forward to going out to the Lake every summer.
📚Now, let’s talk about NATURE IS AN ARTIST. This book encourages children to get art inspiration from nature. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this book?
I’m really excited about NATURE IS AN ARTIST, it turned out so lovely and I want to acknowledge the vibrant work of Natalia Colombo, who illustrated the book.
My inspiration for the story comes from a few places but firstly, it’s a bit of a nod to both my parents. My dad loves to be outdoors and, growing up, he trekked us all over western Canada. So, the nature part of the book is inspired by the time we spent camping in Northern Alberta and in the Rockies. We travelled throughout Saskatchewan and into BC quite a bit as well. For the art side of the story, I drew inspiration from my mom who I think has tried every craft and art form you can think of. It was really fun to think back to being young and about what types of crafts I used to make when I was little. I also think of the crafts and art I make now with my own kids and it’s been such a joy to reminisce on all that.
I also drew inspiration for the initial idea of the book from a trip I took to Hawaii and few years ago. We visited the Napali Coast and it was simply breathtaking–you couldn’t tell where the ocean ended and the sky began, it was amazing. I remember thinking how this amazing view was like a painting.
📚There are so many wonderful art ideas featured in this book. Can you give us a sneak peek into what art projects we might find, and maybe share one of your favorites?
There are five different art forms explored in NATURE IS AN ARTIST. Within each art form there is an example of how that art form can be found in nature and then how the group of children can recreate it for themselves. There are ideas on crafts related to painting, collage, sculpting, stained glass art, and printmaking in the book. I’m really excited because there will also be two (free) downloadable companion guides for NATURE IS AN ARTIST that provides even more crafting ideas and additional content related to the five art forms (one guide for our youngest readers and one for elementary aged readers).
I think my favourite crafting idea from the book is the one related to stained glass art. On a very colourful page, the kids tear brightly coloured tissue paper into smaller pieces and paste them down inside a glass jar. “Inside we put a tealight / that twinkles like a star.” I love it because I feel like kids are so proud with the outcome of that particular craft. Visually, those little crafts always turn out so beautiful with the (battery powered) tealight inside.
📚How would you describe the writing style used for this book?
I describe NATURE IS AN ARTIST to be written in a gently rhythmic style. I tried to use words that sound really pleasing to the ear in a repetitive nature. In a review of the book from Booklist! the reviewer (Kit Ballenger) picked out some of the language she liked, saying NATURE IS AN ARTIST uses “compelling action verbs like dab, etches, and splashed.”
📚Do you have any words of encouragement for the young artists and nature lovers out there?I would say to young artists and nature lovers, take your time. Being in nature is magical and so refreshing, take it all in and look for the small, beautiful surprises out there just waiting to be found. I think so much in nature can inspire art of all kinds.
📚Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book?I want to say a very sincere thank you to everybody who is interested in NATURE IS AN ARTIST. Your support truly means so much to me and I hope you enjoy reading my (and Natalia’s) book. I would like to also gush, for one minute, about the vibrant illustrations of NATURE IS AN ARTIST. Natalia knocked it out of the park with her bright, inviting pictures. Her work is what makes picture books so special, there’s little rich details hidden throughout the pages, and I just love that.
I also invite anyone interested to reach out–I love to talk about kidlit (obviously, picture books but MGlit too!), nature and art, and writing. I’m easily found on twitter at @acutelyjen or on my website at