The author of ‘Marigold’ continues to flourish as a writer and illustrator
The pandemic has given artist and illustrator Kathryn Darnell the opportunity to push her considerable illustration skills in new directions.
Darnell, who has illustrated many children’s picture books, including “Fibblestix,” by Devin Scillian, and “The Michigan Reader,” by Kathy-Jo Warjin, decided it was time to dust off and publish himself. even a manuscript that had gathered dust under his desk for 10 years after being rejected by several editors.
The result is the lovely “Marigold” softcover book, which follows the flower life cycle from seed to flower and repeats the cycle year after year.
“The book is an expression of the end of winter and how we want hands in the dirt,” she said.
The inspiration for the book comes from the soul of the artist and his love of gardening.
One of the characteristics of “Marigold” is the lack of human characters.
“Leaving aside the human characters avoids the question of a specific gender, age or racial identity and also eliminates any expectation of dialogue allowing simple observations to govern the text,” she said.
The text of “Marigold” is mainly made up of simple sentences of two or three words. Sometimes it includes a rhyme scheme for each illustration, but that doesn’t detract from the illustrations.
Darnell said that when she first imagined the book, it didn’t contain any words.
A simple pair of work gloves replaces humans on most pages when planting, watering, and gathering seeds for next year’s marigold harvest. A field mouse is often found as an observer.
“The gloves do the job and play on their own without being worn by a person. The mouse character helps, but I have deliberately avoided over anthropomorphizing the mouse so that the gloves and the mouse are more equal partners, ”she said.
Darnell is still looking at things. While gardening, she noticed how a pair of work gloves was starting to come to life.
“I love gardening, it’s a relaxing thing to do – be outside and be creative. I have an imperfect garden. It’s partly wild with a lot of volunteers, ”she said. “I’ve always liked marigolds and am saving the seeds for next season.”
In addition to writing and illustrating his own book, Darnell began to experiment with animation.
Before the pandemic, Darnell supplemented her illustrations by doing calligraphy for awards and citations, which she has been doing for decades.
When the pandemic hit, there were no more events and that is not happening now. So she began to explore the animation of her calligraphy, which led to the animation of “Marigold”.
“If someone told me 10 years ago that I wanted to host, I would wonder,” Darnell said.
Darnell can trace her career as an illustrator to the late 1970s, when she produced illustrations for the annual Elderly Instruments catalog. She then started doing CD illustrations for folk musicians.
Darnell said she came from people who made things from needlework to carpentry.
“We didn’t sit with our hands on our knees,” she said.
Darnell said the decision to self-publish was eye-opening for him, especially “the whole commercial part of releasing the book.”
“I usually do things for other people and I haven’t thought about the complexities. I knew I wanted to publish the book as a paperback to make it less valuable. she said. “I’m lucky to do what I love. I just love to take pictures, ”Darnell said.
The illustrator said she sees a future for children’s books where they regularly have animated versions.