BTALP Visual Art Specialist, Kristen Hemmis, with plasticine trees made using techniques from Barbara Reid. Learn more about Barbara Reid and how to make your own plasticine trees by clicking on the video below.
I am the author and illustrator of more than a dozen picture books, and the illustrator of over twenty five. As a child, I loved the outdoors, reading, drawing, writing and fooling around with plasticine (a kind of modelling clay). I still do!
My illustrations are made by spreading and modelling plasticine to create relief images. After graduating from The Ontario College of Art and Design, the first book I illustrated using plasticine was The New Baby Calf, written by Edith Newlin Chase. Since then I have had the opportunity to work with many outstanding authors such as Kenneth Oppel, Jo Ellen Bogart and Mother Goose.
I have been delighted to receive awards for my books, including the Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, The Governor General’s Award for Illustration for The Party, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award for The Subway Mouse. Some of my books have been selected for the IBBY International Honour List, Sydney Taylor Notable Books, the Toronto Public Library’s First and Best List and the Ontario Library Association Best Bets. Literacy programs have distributed Read Me a Book across Canada. Gifts, written by Jo Ellen Bogart, was a TD Grade One Book Giveaway Program selection, distributed to 250 thousand first grade students. In 2013 I was honoured to become a member of the Order of Canada. Most recently, The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore, was the 2014 Libris Children’s Picture Book of the Year. My newest book is Sing a Song of Bedtime.
My books have been published in Canada, The USA, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Finland, Norway, China, Denmark, Germany, Brazil, Korea and Thailand and translated into at least eight languages.
Of course, plasticine art needs no translation! One of the best things about my job is meeting thousands of young readers, writers and fellow plasticine artists from around the world through workshops, presentations and via email.
Photographer Ian Crysler shoots of all my plasticine work for publication; his photography brings the artwork to life on the page. Ian is also my husband, and we have two grown up daughters. I live in Toronto, but am at home in libraries and classrooms everywhere.