sketchbook Stories :: Melanie Hall

I had the pleasure of first meeting Melanie at Surtex 2 years ago. She was helping out her friend, who I’m happy to say is now also my friend. :-) Melanie was so sweet and unassuming that I had no idea what an amazing illustrator she was until I got home and was able to look up her work. Melanie has won numerous awards and has illustrated over 30 books. She taught children’s book illustration at Pratt Institute for over ten years and currently she teaches children’s book illustration to graduate students at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa. In addition, Melanie teaches creative workshops for Wing and Clover in Rhinebeck and the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, Pa.

In addition, Melanie’s work has been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators in New York and is in the collection of children’s book art at the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay, Ohio. She exhibits her paintings and sculpture at the Back Room Gallery in Beacon, New York. Melanie’s latest venture is art licensing. Surtex 2010 was her debut and she is presently designing Judaica and a home and entertaining line.

Here is Melanie Hall’s Sketchbook Story ::

MH: Mark Twain has said “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself.” The focus of my art is not just the outward appearance of things, but the inner life, a depiction of the joy and mystery of life. I illustrate children’s books with spiritual themes as well as folk tales and poetry. I am delighted by the playfulness inherent in day-to-day life, the quirks of synchronicity and the way things often fall into place despite my anxieties. Because I don’t always know what will happen when I combine media in different ways, a piece of my illustration or fine art takes on a life of its own, and often surprises me.

MH: This image of an owl is from my personal work. It is an 8” x 10” acrylic painting on canvas that I’ve always liked. Owls are marvelous birds that fly silently at night. My husband and I often hear them hooting in the woods near our house in upstate New York. It is rare to see them in daylight, so when I do happen to catch a glimpse of one, it is memorable. I always think it’s a good omen. 

MH: In my children’s picturebook Wintersong: A Poem by William Shakespeare (Boyds Mills Press), I’ve “recycled” the owl motif for the verse.“Then nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-who, Tu-whit, tu-who a merry note.”

  Because the poem is about winter, I drew the owl sitting on a bare branch. The crescent moon is another favorite motif I use again and again. There is a village of Tudor houses in the background. I researched what houses looked like during Shakespeare’s time. These are half-timbered with stucco. I learn something new with every project I work on, that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of being an illustrator.

MH: The finished piece of art (before type was added) is a collage with mixed media. I like using layers this way: scanning my art and then adding more media. For this illustration I’ve used water-based pastels (my favorite is Caran D’Ache watersoluble crayons) and acrylic paint. I love the rawness of the torn edges, the visible pieces of Scotch tape and the white of the page showing through.


Here’s where you can find Melanie ::

    website ::

    theispot ::



  1. She's indeed an artist! She can play with colors and create sketches that will surely love by children.

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