Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 15, 2011

Illustrator Saturday – Ponder Goembel

Ponder Goembel has enjoyed creating and observing art for as long as she can remember. As a child she liked to draw pictures from her imagination and from life. When her mother brought home books from the library she studied every detail of the pictures. She felt that to create book art would be wonderful. In high school she enjoyed designing playbills and posters for school plays and after graduation moved on to attend the Philadelphia College of Art where she majored in Illustration. Courses such as history of film and animal anatomy still influence her work today.

By graduation in 1977, Ponder had worked on her first freelance illustration job and moved on to create illustrations for advertisements, magazines, and book jackets. After almost ten years she received a commission to illustrate her first children’s book, Hear The Wind Blow, American Folk Songs Retold by Scott R. Sanders.  Though not a picture book it included ten black and white illustrations, good practice for her more colorful picture books of today. With the publication of her first picture book, A Basket Full of White Eggs by Brian Swann, came a move to the country and the arrival of her first child. The experiences of parenthood increased her desire to create art for children and she has been doing so ever since.

Her illustrations may be found in Give Me Wings, Poems Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Animal Fair, a song adapted by her, Swamp Song by Helen Kettemen, Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo by Barbara O. Morrow, and three collaborations with Lisa Wheeler, Castaway Cats, Old Cricket and Sailor Moo, Cow at Sea. One of her books, “Hi, Pizza Man!” written by Virginia Walter, has been in continuous print since 1995. In addition to picture books she has created a poster for the Children’s Book Council, a top-selling greeting card for Peaceable Kingdom Press and several illustrations for The Cricket Magazine Group.

“When I first read a manuscript I put on my thinking cap and imagine what the book could look like. When I’ve decided to illustrate it I sketch a few key characters and scenes.

Then I start organizing the book with thumbnail sketches, small rough sketches of the way each page could look. This gives me a chance to work on the pace of the story. without worrying about the details.

Once I’ve got the basics worked out I enlarge the thumbnails then trace over and re-draw each page with more details until it looks good enough to submit to the Editor. This is called a final sketch and images can be  changed more easily at this point than when the final art is done. Also, I use reference pictures to help me with details.

Next is the most fun part, drawing and painting the final art, I guess it’s like coloring. Then, the final art is printed.

Below is the cover for Swamp Song, by Helen Kettiman

And SAILOR MOO which sits on my bookshelf and the book that turned me on to Ponder.

Hope you enjoyed your visit with Ponder.  You can see more of her work by visiting her website.  After seeing the wonderful illustration in CASTAWAY CATS, I have put that book on my list of picture books to buy.

Talk tomorrow,


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