The creator of The Frog Princess, a delightful fractured fairy tale, Rosalind Allchin describes herself thus: “I think I’m an illustrator who writes stories. I start off with some kind of visual image, probably of a character. Although I’ve never had any formal art training, I’ve always been interested in the visual arts. When I was in my teens, we used to go family camping in Europe, and visiting the art galleries in Italy was a wonderful introduction. However it’s only relatively recently that I’ve taken up a brush myself.”
Although presently a resident of Ottawa, Ontario, Rosalind was born in West Sussex on the south coast of England on March 26, 1949, the second of four children and the only girl. “We all went to the local primary (elementary) school, and those years I remember as a lovely period in my life, full of painting and reading stories.
In talking about her approach to illustrating, Rosalind says, “I tend to complete each picture before moving to the next one. Sometimes there are perspectives that I can’t work out. For example, the picture on page 14 in which the Frog Princess is jumping down from the royal balcony took me ages. I actually made little sculpture clay heads of the prince, his bodyguard and the queen. Faces look so different from different angles. I’ve learned of the magic of mirrors. Sometimes a drawing just doesn’t look quite right, but it ‘s difficult to see quite where the error lies. But viewing the drawing differently, through a mirror, magically jolts the perceptions and the problem is revealed.”
Picture books, even fractured fairy tales, require research. “Out of interest, I borrowed a lot of library books on costume. Over five hundred years of medieval life, styles changed dramatically, not to mention differences between classes and between countries. I’ve actually mixed periods.”
“I work a lot, but I guess I’m really slow. I go up to my desk every day except one day a week when I pot, a wonderful therapy. I rent space in a studio which is nice because I meet other people. I have a wheel and am hoping in the near future to buy my own kiln. It’s good to have something constructive to do when I’m having problems writing or drawing. I have a lovely attic space where I work. I’m gradually acquiring all sorts of amazing things, like a scanner which will make sending off manuscripts easier. I used to photograph the art or get color copies made which is very expensive.”
“I have four or five stories more or less written up. I find the writing quite hard in terms of creating language that is clear and simple and yet interesting. It’s so easy for it to fall flat. My initial writing tends to be much too long winded, and I am getting better at ruthless cutting. As soon as I’ve got the story idea worked out, I play around dividing it into pages and thinking about the pictures and how I can have a different action or setting on each page. Right from the start really, I’m working the two things together.”
Source: Profile by Dave Jenkinson/Canadian Review of Materials