Marcia Strykowski

November Author Spotlight

PierrMorgan-headshotFor today’s author spotlight we have a talented painter (who also happens to write). Pierr Morgan has illustrated a host of beautiful books for children. Scroll down for a tree-house view from her studio on Bainbridge Island, as well as a sneak peek of her current work-in-progress!

Please share a little about your books.

TheSquiggle-PierrMorganI’ve illustrated 22 picture books, half of them with children’s author, Carole Lexa Schaefer. Our collaboration began serendipitously with The Squiggle years after my efforts to sell it as a wordless book. It’s a concept book about the imagination which is strongly featured in many of our books together: Someone Says; Kids Like Us; Dragon Dancing; Sometimes Moon; Who’s There?. ABCers-Schaefer-PierrMorganTwo of our other books, Cool Time Song (a conservation concept), and ABcers (kids as doers through the alphabet), have traveled to children around the world as part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Other collaborations have been with children’s author Christine Widman for her Cornfield Hide-And-Seek, a family romp on a sizzling hot day, and author Nancy Luenn’s The Miser On The Mountain: A Nisqually Legend of Mount Rainier.

TheNineDaysWonder-Hollinshead-PierrMorganHow has where you’ve lived or traveled influenced your work?
Before the internet, I did library research for time, place, and costume, but eventually it didn’t satisfy me. I wanted to experience the landscape colors and history firsthand with camera and sketchbook. So I wrote off my travel to Italian hilltowns for The Bells of Santa Lucia by Gus Cazzola, and my trip to England to retrace Will Kemp’s SupperForCrow-PierrMorgandance from London to Norwich in 1600, for The Nine Days Wonder by Marilyn Hollinshead. When Carole read me her text for Sometimes Moon (about a little girl’s concept of the phases of the moon), in my mind I saw a colorful dory boat off the coast of Greece. I “knew” everything I Adventures Beyond the Solar System-Williams-PierrMorganneeded to illustrate the story was there. So we traveled to the island of Keffalonia and sure enough, all the scenery and characters – including the exact same dory boat I’d imagined out on the bay – were there. Supper for Crow (a trickster Raven story) was told to me by Isabelle Ides, a Makah elder, while living next door to her in Neah Bay, WA. I wrote the story down in my journal but didn’t really know what it meant till fifteen years later, when I came across it again and realized I had needed a bit more life experience…knowing a Raven or two!

DrawingTable-PierrMorgan2015Could you briefly tell us your illustrating process?
I read the story text aloud over and over until I see pictures in my mind. I jot notes and doodles to remember them, then fold 8 pieces of paper in half for a 32-page dummy, then cut the text apart with scissors and tape it to the pages (with Scotch brand “Removeable” = blue plaid box), to get the rhythm of the page-turn.

DragonDancing-Schaefer-PierrMorganNext I make rough sketches willy-nilly throughout and tape those down. Rarely do I see all the pictures at once or in final order. I never draw or write directly on the dummy pages because there will be changes as I consult with the art director and/or editor, and/or author to refine the overall vision. Last comes final art (though I do make one or two finished color pieces – first as samples for them to see – in the style I intend to go with the dummy).

10845861Every story has its own personality or tone. I like to illuminate it through the medium and technique that I use. My book art ranges from Alkyds (oils that dry overnight) in Adventures Beyond the Solar System by Geoffrey T. Williams, to a Gouache (“goo-wash – an opaque watercolor) and Ink Resist technique used in many titles like The Turnip, or The Nine Days Wonder, to Marker and Gouache line on toned paper in The Squiggle and Dragon Dancing, to Marker and Colored Pencils in ABCers.

2991680What advice would you give to new illustrators hoping to become published?
Think backwards – research where you’d like to see your work some day (I made a “Top 5” list), and keep current on what they’re looking for and how they like you to submit art. Consider children’s magazines, too. Then start at the beginning. Keep a sketchbook. Draw everything, especially humans in movement. Dummy up a favorite picture book, words and all, to see what it looks like in that format. 378669Follow your interests. Learn what you need to hone your skills and discover and develop a style that brings you utter delight to create. If you have the urge to apologize for a piece before anyone says a word about it, or it’s really amazing work but you never want to have to create it again, get it out of TheTurnip-PierrMorganyour portfolio!! If you’re also a writer, have several projects (not just one) to send with their dummies. Make some promotional post cards to send to art directors – who are open to receiving them – every quarter to link your name with strong visual images.

favorite authors = Arnold Lobel; Cynthia Rylant; Kristin Cashore; Laini Taylor; Leila Sales; Jeannette Walls

favorite movie = When Harry Met Sally

favorite vacation =

favorite hobby = sewing HAND-Stands

favorite color = salmon pink!


Dummy in progress for a picture book that will be released in spring 2017.

Thanks for sharing your beautiful work and creative process, Pierr! Keep in touch with Pierr at her website:  And also take a look at this inspiring site:


  1. Great Post, wonderful.


  2. slochman

    Lovely post. Beautifully written. Love the photos. An inspiration in so many ways.


  3. Shana Gorian

    It’s great to hear about both the writing and illustration perspectives. Great interview.


  4. The illustration process is both foreign and fascinating to me! Thanks for sharing.


    • I love seeing how illustrators work. The last picture of her drawing board looks like so much fun!


  5. I enjoyed reading about Pierr. Like Yvonne, I know little about the illustration process and enjoyed learning a little about how she approaches it. This makes me want to look for some of the books that she’s illustrated.


    • I find the illustration process fascinating, too. Thanks for your comment, Sheryl!


  6. Hello Marcia, I have such admiration for illustrators and found this entire interview fascinating, thank you. I also enjoyed all the images.


  7. So many amazing illustrations! I love that they all have a different feel and look to them.


  8. Such a wonderful interview. I love Pierr Morgan’s illustrations. I particularly found her process interesting.


  9. I loved learning more about Pierr. So interesting to see the different styles and technique she uses. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  10. Ashley

    I really enjoy these peeks into writing and illustrating each month!!


  11. Love your author posts Marcia!! The Dragon Dancing could be a fun book for our grand-girls who were born in China. I wasn’t familiar with Pierr Morgan’s work. Thanks for the post. And I hope you have a marvelous, memorable Thanksgiving with your family there.


  12. Bette Norton

    I love Pierr Morgan’s Illustrations! The last picture showing her desk with her work already to go for a future picture book, is such a treat to see! I love good illustrations in children’s picture books! I collect picture books and the illustrations play a big part in my selecting them. It is interesting to learn the process she uses with the 8 pieces of paper folded and the many different mediums that she works with. . Thank you Marcia for a great post on Illustrators! An important piece for your wonderful Author’s Spotlight Posts! 🙂


    • Interesting to know what goes into creating picture books, isn’t it? Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed the post, Bette!


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