Interview with the Artist — Mary Solomon
As I sit at my table, talking to people looking at my books, people often ask about the artists. “Who did that cover?” In this and a few other interviews, I’m hoping to answer that question.
My first children’s book was quite a different project than my novels. This was a collaborative project with my sister, noted artist Mary Solomon.
Introduce yourself. What kind of work is your specialty? How long have you been at it?
I have been painting or drawing my entire life as I can remember some first memories as crayon art. Then I learned to draw! A whole new world opened up for me. I had seen remarkable sketches made by my father and uncle of mechanical things. I had no real interest in drawing airplanes and such but was so interested in fashion and the drawings in the newspapers of the new styles out. At that time, there were no pictures of the clothing, only drawings. I studied these drawings of women and hairstyles. I would copy them and make them my own. As I progressed, I did my own designs and remember entering a national magazine contest while in high school of fashion drawings and won. It is interesting how having this skill made a shy little girl feel empowered. I enjoyed the attention I got from these drawings and wanted to go further. I have developed my style of art through the years, taking a class here and there and learning to use different media to accomplish my goal. I now paint in oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel and pencil.
How did you meet up with Henry Melton and why did you decide to help him with his art needs?
I’ve known Henry since the day he was born. I remember the day he was brought home from the hospital in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. I have adored, loved, admired and picked on my little brother throughout his remarkable life. Henry has wanted me to do covers, etc for his books for quite some time, but I realized his books deserve a more graphic type of design for the covers. They are remarkable science fiction books, but I would have them looking more like a lovely afternoon read. Henry asked me about illustrating a children’s book for him and was instantly on board.
Many artists collaborate with others to produce the final image. Did you create the cover art yourself, or with the help of others? If this was a collaboration, then who did you work with?
I did not collaborate the idea and the images in my head for this book. I spent hours looking through space picture books because I did not understand much about the mechanics of it all (back to my dad’s mechanical drawings.) I loved the script and message from the book and I hope every child gets to read it. I think we all go through insecurities for one reason or another and this story exhibits how our insecurities or inabilities can be made into something positive. I want every child to feel good about themselves.
Were there any notable difficulties, or high points in creating the image?
The high point was developing Chipper. I wanted him to be vulnerable and very positive at the same time. The difficult part was the mechanical aspects of the drawings. I wanted to make Henry proud.
What is the hardest part of doing cover art for novels?
Since this was my first one and it was an illustrated book for children, I wanted Henry to pick which image he wanted for the cover. I approve of his choice.
Do you prefer to work from a single concept? Or would you rather read the text and create an appropriate image?
Definitely read the text first. Don’t know how you could do it any other way.
Where is your artwork leading you? Do you intend to do more cover art, or have you passed that by and are heading for other goals?
I have had a working studio and gallery for 10 years and prior to that had a gallery at home. I do mostly commissioned portraits and as I call them “paintings of your favorite things” such as florals, landscapes, animals, etc. I plan to continue on with what I am doing in the present and as always improve. If the right cover came along, I would always consider doing another.
Where can the reader see more of your work? Do you have a website? Are there other notable works they can find?
You can find me at marysolomon.net, or visit my gallery in Amarillo, TX., 3701 Plains, Ste.68.
Thanks Mary, for answering these questions. Now if I can just talk you into doing the art for the next children’s book.