Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Illustrating, with Brian Deines

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Brian Deines

Brian Deines is the illustrator of The Circle Game, the classic song by Joni Mitchell, which has recently been published as a charming, beautiful picture book by Dancing Cat Books.

In his interview with Open Book, Brian tells us about creating the paintings for The Circle Game, artists who have influenced him and future projects.

Open Book:

Tell us about the illustrations in your book, The Circle Game.

Brian Deines:

The illustrations-paintings for the book are rendered in oil on canvas approximately size as printed. The paintings for the book took about three months to do with about two months previous drawing time working on linears for the basis of the color work.


How did you approach The Circle Game as a project?


I wanted to honour the music in respect to the (now) adults who had originally grown up with the song while making it accessible to younger eyes and minds. The lyrics are not light in tone and it took close to four months to shape an approach in my mind’s eye before really putting anything down on paper. I found it was quite a challenge and possibly my hardest book to date to conceive.


Have you experimented over the years or are you drawn to particular moods and styles?


I think my style continues to evolve. I have always worked in oils and I find it a wonderful medium with something new to learn and build on during the course of each project. My style is slightly atmospheric with not a lot of fine detail. I am after the mood of the moment and action conveyed.


What are some of your favourite things to draw?


In my books I enjoy drawing people and animals, in my fine art I tend to draw a lot of industrial type objects.


Who are some people who have deeply influenced (fellow artists or not) your artistic life?


I would have to say my friend and fellow artist David McClyment as well as the work of Jack Chambers, Christopher Pratt, Paul Klee, Degas, Seurat and Vermeer.


What are you working on now?


I am working on a book on Afghanistan, followed by a book written by Jean Little.

Brian Deines has illustrated numerous books for children, including Skysisters (written by Jan Bourdeau Waboose), Dragonfly Kites (written by Thomson Highway) and One Hockey Night (written by David Ward). He has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Literature Award, the Martha Baillie Picture Book Award and the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award. A native of Red Deer, Alberta, Brian lives in Toronto.

For more information about The Circle Game please visit the Dancing Cat Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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