Author Interview: Vicki McCarger

Hello readers!

Local artist and sometime-author Vicki McCarger has written and illustrated a beautiful picture book called, Augie Paints His Masterpiece! It’s in our store and ready to find a new home on your shelves, where it is sure to inspire little artists of all sizes! We interviewed her via email about her process and her book and her answers are here today!

Augie Paints His Masterpiece is a beautiful book about color and friendship! How did the idea for a painting moose take shape? Did it feel very meta, painting illustrations about painting?

A friend and I were asked by the Blue Moose Art Gallery in Fort Collins to write a children’s book about an all-blue moose.  The original story had flaws we couldn’t resolve and my friend and I dropped the project.  My friend and I had fun and learned so much from the initial process.  From that perspective I wanted to write a fun book illustrating how we learn from our friends, and how much richer life is because of friendship.  I’d done some silly drawings of a moose painting at an easel for the first story and decided to take off on that.

Each new friend that Augie makes introduces him to a new color, and then Augie introduces readers to how to make those colors–mixing blue and yellow for green, etc. Was there a process for deciding which color went with which new friend?

I chose the colors for the animals mostly based on what color looked good with their fur, but wanted to start with yellow so I could move onto mixing green in the next sequence.  That part was easy because the bear looked so handsome in yellow and the red fox showed off the green shoes so well.  Red and green are opposite colors on the color wheel.  Opposite colors on the wheel enhance each other with the greatest effect.

You are primarily an artist, and Augie is the first book you’ve written as well as illustrated. What was the hardest part about writing the story–or was there a hard part?

The story was deliberately uncomplicated, but I’m a very visual person so I saw the images first, and then had to fit the text to the picture.  The hardest part of the art was putting a hat on a moose with antlers and shoes on a fox.  At the end of the book Augie has an art journal sharing his art wisdom  One thing he learned was “sometimes you have to wing it”.  I took that advice and just winged it with the antlers and hat dilemma.   My dog modeled a pair of tennis shoes for the fox’s green footwear..

What drew you to watercolors as opposed to other art mediums?

I’ve always loved watercolor because of its freshness and translucent quality.  I love oil paintings, but think I’ll stick with watercolor.

What is your quirkiest writing habit? Painting habit?

I paint much more that I write.  When I first started in watercolor I used to paint the same picture several times.  Its very easy to overwork watercolor, so I’d start one painting of the exact same composition and make myself put it down without looking at it while the paint dried.  I’d then start a different area in the second painting.  Now I frequently have several projects going at the same time, but not identical paintings.

What author, dead or alive, would you most like to have dinner with?

I love children’s books and fell in love with EB White’s Charlotte’s Web as a child.   But EB White was reported to be very shy, and that is my natural inclination.  So we probably wouldn’t have spoken much, or maybe would have taken our meals in separate rooms!

Thanks so much, Vicki! We love having Augie at the store, and are excited for him to find new homes to go to!

You can purchase Augie Paints His Masterpiece by calling the store!

Happy reading!

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