My Life as an Illustrator

The following article featuring my cut-paper art was published in my neighborhood magazine, Cheviot Living in July 2018.
Meet Cheviot resident and artist Caroline Arnold! Caroline grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and spent most summers at a small camp in northern Wisconsin. It was there that she began to develop a love for nature and the outdoors (which would ultimately become her muse for her art pieces and environmentally-conscious children’s books, of which she’s written over 170 to date). Caroline attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, where she majored in art and also studied English literature. Following that, she attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, and received her M.A. in art in 1968.

Caroline began writing books for children more than twenty-five years ago when her own children were small. She illustrated a few books and then worked with photographer Richard Hewett for many years creating photo essays about animals. The books she illustrates today are inspired by her experience working with Richard. They read like true stories, following the lives of animals from birth to finding independence, and teach simple themes to children about growing up. The books have also been a major avenue to showcase Caroline’s art creations of paper cut-out shapes.

Says Caroline about her paper cut-outs: “I rely heavily on the outside edges of each piece of paper because it’s those lines that define the shapes of the objects. I use flat colors so I depend on contrasting hues and a layering process to create depth. Thicker art stock paper, when layered, gives a nice, although minute, three-dimensionality that really brings the animals to life and allows them to `pop’ off the page.”

Caroline has found that for animals that live underground or underwater, are active at night, or live in remote locations, often a drawing is better than a photograph for showing their behavior.

Says Caroline about her books: “[these books] are intended for kids in early elementary school so the pictures have to be big and bold, with a poster-effect, and fill both pages, so when a teacher reads to her class, the students can see the images clearly from the back of the room.” While the stories themselves are full of information and can be found in school libraries, they are also good for pleasure reading and are available at book retailers.

Caroline’s favorite aspect about her art is the fact that it’s so scalable: while intended as book illustration, it can also be framed or made into prints to hang on a wall. She’s also used these images to create great greeting cards.

Caroline’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in numerous galleries and competitive shows. Caroline plans on making her Cheviot Art Crawl debut in 2019. She lives with her husband, Art (name not coincidentally on purpose), who sometimes helps with photography for her books. Their children are grown and flew the nest long ago.

To visit her works, see:

Written by Gabrielle Michel and published by Joe Schneider in Cheviot Living magazine. 

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