THIS ARTIST-ILLUSTRATOR DRAWN TO MESSING AROUND WITH SHAPES

VALLEY DISPATCH PHOTOS/GAYLE SIMONE
Illustrator Katy Bratun redefines the outline of the moose she drew at Nevins Memorial Library.
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

METHUEN — With a black pencil in her hand, Katy Bratun drew the shape of a peanut on a simple brown sheet of paper. The kids in the audience sat in awe as she quickly turned the peanut into an illustration of a moose rowing a boat.

“Whenever you draw anything, you want to start with one shape,” Bratun told her young audience recently at Nevins Memorial Library.

When the outline of the drawing was complete, Bratun picked up her chalk and began to add life to the sketch.

Smudging bright colors with her fingers, Bratun said chalk is one of her favorite supplies.

“Chalk is so much fun. Anything messy is fun,” Bratun said as she held up her hands covered in different shades of chalk. “This is the best part about art — being messy.”, THE BROADCASTER Body:

Best known for her work as an illustrator, Bratun published her first book, Gingerbread Mouse, in 2003.

“It’s so self-indulgent writing your own book,” Bratun said. “It’s like doing a movie. You’re the casting director, the costume designer, everything. So you are literally drafting a movie.”

Bratun interpreted a story board for the book, Be My Valentine, that she illustrated.

“The story board starts out as what we call sloppy copy, which is the same as a sketch,” Bratun explained. “It’s thinking on paper.”

A story board is the rough draft, so to speak, of the illustrations to go along with the written words for a book.

“I always draw out the sketches first and then I put tracing paper over it so I can add color,” Bratun said. “After the publisher approves it, that’s when each of the drawings is finalized.”

The children got excited with anticipation when the lights were turned off and Bratun started a slideshow of Be My Valentine.

With every slide, Bratun read the story about Isadore, a mouse trying to write a Valentine’s Day poem for his friend Athena.

With the completion of the story, the kids had the opportunity to make their very own Valentine mouse out of a brown paper bag and other supplies.

Kathy Moran-Wallace, head of children’s services at Nevins Memorial Library, said the library was able to host such an event because of the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant through the Massachusetts Department of Education.

“Last year we had an author come in as part of the grant,” Moran-Wallace said. “It was nice to give the kids the opportunity to see both ends of the publication.”

Have a story idea? Gayle Simone can be reached at 978-970-4838 or by e-mail at gsimone@thevalleydispatch.com.