Home Creative writing Famous children’s illustrators draw a crowd on the last day of Maine Lit Fest

Famous children’s illustrators draw a crowd on the last day of Maine Lit Fest

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Illustrators Scott Nash and Chris Van Dusen, in the background, participate in ‘Draw Off’ during Maine Lit Fest in Portland on Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Two nationally acclaimed children’s authors/illustrators from Maine put their talents on the line in a “raffle” on Saturday, challenging children to come up with an idea that challenged their efforts to illustrate it.

Chris Van Dusen, who wrote and illustrated ‘The Circus Ship’, and Scott Nash, who wrote and illustrated ‘Shrunken Treasures’, stood before an audience under a tent in Monument Square in Portland. The event took place on the closing day of Maine Lit Fest, a celebration of books presented by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and Colby College’s creative writing program.

Children in the audience gave Van Dusen and Nash some tough subjects, from paper clip-carrying ants to “a unicorn burger.”

At the beginning of the drawing, Nash encouraged the children to fade them. “Let’s go in a mess. »

Illustrator Chris Van Dusen participates in a “Draw Off” with Scott Nash at Lit Fest in Portland on Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Hands went up and for the next 30 minutes the two tied.

Bert Butler, 9, of Nobleboro, asked them to draw the Titanic. The artists turned their backs and began to draw. In a few minutes, Van Dusen drew the Titanic, sunk under water, the iceberg still standing. Nash’s Titanic was still afloat, about to crash into the ice.

Nadia Doyon, 8, from Lewiston, asked for a unicorn burger.

“Did you say ‘a unicorn burger?’ Nash asked with a puzzled face. The girl nodded. The audience laughed. Nash came up with a burger with a protruding horn; Van Dusen’s sketch was of a fluffy tail and a burger.

Naija Clark, 8, from Yarmouth, asked for a giraffe eating a lollipop. Jasper Whalen, 3, from Portland, wanted ants carrying a paper clip.

“How many ants? Nash asked.

Illustrators Scott Nash and Chris Van Dusen, in the background, laugh while participating in Draw Off Saturday as part of Maine Lit Fest in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The young blond showed five fingers. More laughs. Within minutes there were different versions of ants carrying a huge paper clip.

Margaret Madden, 10, from Falmouth, asked for a pirate’s birthday. Van Dusen drew a pirate about to swallow a huge slice of cake, his candles lit. Nash drew a creepy pirate with a skull-shaped cake.

Once the drawings were completed, the artists autographed their sketches and gave them to the children.

Maine author Samara Cole Doyon reads from her book ‘Magnificent Homespun Brown’ with the help of her daughter, Nadia, 8, during multicultural story time as part of Maine Lit Fest Saturday in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Nash is executive director of the Portland Institute of Illustration, which helps to promote illustrators by offering exhibitions. Nash has illustrated more than 50 children’s books, including the “Flat Stanley” books written by Jeff Brown. He also designed the logos for Nickelodeon’s “Nick at Nite,” “Nick Jr.” and “Comedy Central”. He also wrote and illustrated “The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate” and “Tuff Fluff: The Case of Duckie’s Missing Brain”, and founded the illustration program at Maine College of Art.

Van Dusen said this was their third drawing competition and joked that their sketches “wouldn’t look pretty”. He is best known for “The Circus Ship” and “Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee”. His latest book is “Big Truck, Little Island”, which is out of print. The book has just been reprinted and will soon be available in stores, he said. He has also illustrated for other authors, including Kate DiCamillo’s popular “Mercy Watson” book series.



The event aims to encourage children to create, Nash said, adding that he loves the ideas that come from young people. He was a bit taken aback by the unicorn burger, he said.

“I didn’t do it justice, but the idea was fantastic,” Nash said. The idea is to keep it moving and hopefully make the kids realize that you don’t have to be picky to draw.

As children get older, they begin to become self-critical of their drawing. “I try to get them to scribble first and then draw over their scribbles” – that’s when their ideas bloom, Nash said, adding that he wanted to make drawing accessible to people. kids, “and make the kids think, ‘I can do it too.’ ”

Also in Monument Square on Saturday was a book fair featuring Maine books and authors.

Coco McCracken of Portland holds Ira Frank 2, left, of South Portland and Ryan McCracken, 2, of Portland as they listen to book readings Saturday during Maine Lit Fest in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The literature festival took place from September 30 to October 30. 1 in Waterville, then moved to Portland October 4-8. He has featured over 50 Maine authors at different events.

The goal is to promote Maine literature, said Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, executive director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.

On a per capita basis, Maine is rich in writers “doing quality work at the state, regional and national levels,” he said. Acclaimed illustrators and authors, including Nash, Van Dusen and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Traister, show up to talk and meet their fans.

They and others are excellent, literate citizens, Fay-LeBlanc said, “which means they give back to writers, collaborate, show up at events like this.”

Emerson Frost of Portland said she was at the Portland Public Library on Saturday when she wondered what the tent was for. She crossed Congress Street and was delighted to find the festival again. “It’s cool that there’s a whole book fair,” said Frost, who was holding four books. “It’s great that people are celebrating reading.”


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