Pat Cupples - Illustrator

Pat Cupples

I was born in Neepawa, Manitoba, my mother's hometown. We moved from there to a log cabin (yes, really) in the bush north of Kenora: no heat, no light, no running water.

April 20th, during the Dirty Thirties.

Where do you live now?

When did you start drawing?
I couldn't tell you when I started drawing ... I've always done it.

What was your schooling or training?
I went to Ryerson's Interior Design School. I thought there would be lots of drawing and there was, but mostly perspective drawing. This, however, turned out to be very useful. And later, there were life drawing classes, many of them. Eventually, I took three years off and went to art school, a very weird and loosely structured school run by working artists. Though I would describe myself as a realist, I created many huge and pretty terrible non-objective paintings. I like that kind of art, though, when it's done well.

Do you have any pets?
FLP the cat, who appears in many of my illustrations.

What's your favorite hobby?
My favorite hobby is drawing. I like the almost trance-like state that results when I get deeply involved in it.

What's your favorite food?
I guess I'd have to say pasta is my favorite food.

Do you have any advice for young creators?
If I was to advise a young illustrator, I'd suggest she learn perspective and draw, draw, draw the figure.

How did you get involved with children's books?
I got involved with children's books when a writer friend asked me to illustrate a book she had written. She sent it off to Clarke Irwin, a publishing house that no longer exists. They found another illustrator for the story but asked me to illustrate a book by Marion Engel titled Adventure at Moonbay Towers. Not too long after that I had a call from Val Wyatt, an editor at Kids Can Press. And so began a long and happy association.

Where do you work?
I work in the basement of my house in a large room, big enough to accommodate the expanding mess of my projects. There's room for a large drawing board, two tables, a file cabinet, a flat file, shelves of books and a computer. I use the computer in various ways but it's especially useful for finding a lot of the reference material I need.

How do you research or create your illustrations?
As I mentioned, the computer is a great resource. But I still use the picture clipping department at the reference library downtown.

Where do you get your ideas?
Sometimes the reference itself will spark an idea, but a lot of my ideas come from fooling around with a pencil and a piece of paper.

What mediums do you use when illustrating?
I work mostly in watercolor and pencil with colored pencil added. Sometimes I work with alkyd, a fast-drying oil paint. Or pencil on vellum, a kind of frosted acetate, but that's really only for black-and-white drawings.