Today we have a guest post introducing Kelly Schumacher, illustrator, artist, and Lutheran to boot. I first heard her name as a presenter for the Good Shepherd Institute through Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, and then I saw a video on Facebook about her work with Grail Quest Books.
It seems to me that illustrators can be hard to find, so if you know names of any Lutherans, send them my way! I’ll include them in my list of resources for living, Lutheran authors. (I’ve redone that page slightly, by the way, so hopefully it’s getting more clear.)
Kelly Schumacher is the artist behind Agnus Dei Liturgical Arts. She has 3 degrees in fine arts including an MFA from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Kelly is committed to seeing a revival of classical art in the Church.
Kelly’s studio is in Saint Louis, Missouri, and she is currently working on illustrating The Creation, the Fall, and the Promise by author Joshua Radke and Grail Quest Books. You can view her work at www.agnusdeiarts.com or www.facebook.com/agnusdeiarts/.
Why are you a liturgical artist?
As Lutherans, we have kept our sacred music and sacred liturgy traditions. I would like to see our confessional and traditional church body bring our art and architecture to the same par as our music.
When did you become interested in illustrating books?
I loved picture books as a child and fantasized about becoming an animator. In files my mom kept from my childhood, I found many construction paper books I had made and stapled together. The interest in illustrating children’s books was revisited when I was 18 and wrote a small children’s story. In 2014 I contacted Grail Quest Books looking to publish the story I had written. We began discussing illustration and things have grown from there.
Who are your favorite illustrators?
My favorites are Maxfield Parrish, Trina Schart Hyman, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Alphonse Mucha, and most Disney animated films.
What were your favorite books as a child? Do they influence you now?
One of my absolute favorite books was Saint George and the Dragon illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. She was inspired by illuminated texts for the styling of her books. I absolutely love her symbolism, detail, and line work.
What is illustration?
Illustration bases images off of a written text. The illustrator’s job is to understand the essence of the text, the meaning, and the written work as a whole. I think of how the images tie the text together and use symbols to create foreshadowing.
Tell us about the book, The Creation, the Fall, and the Promise
(By the way, author Joshua Radke is Lutheran, too.)
First off the book is beautifully written. The author weaves Scripture, imagery, and narrative together in a deep way that can speak to adults and children. My job is to flesh out the story of Adam and Eve being made, sin entering into the world, Jesus sacrificing himself for our sake, and the marriage feast that has no end.
What are the materials you use?
I use pencil, watercolor, a little gouache, and a little acrylic on illustration board.
Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas come through church sermons, hymns, and Bible readings. Visually I am inspired by fairytales, movies, art museums, and Pinterest. I am also inspired by my personal struggles. God comforts me in those struggles and it makes me open up creatively and desire to bring the same comfort, hope, and healing to others.
Describe your process.
First I read the text and decide on a style. It is important that the author and the illustrator match in vision. The author trusts that what he has painted with words to be painted well by the illustrator. I make a mock book where I arrange the text and different inspirations for images. Next, I work from these images and photographs of my own. I work whatever page seems to speak to me at that time, the simpler pages to the more complex ones to perfect my technique. On each page I design a border, and then draw the image in with pencil. Then I paint several layers of watercolor glazes to complete the image. Lastly, I highlight with acrylic and redraw important lines with pencil.
Describe your style.
It is a mixture of medieval and pre-Raphaelite styles; realism with a little bit of fairytale sparkle mixed in. I want to make images that look realistic but are miraculous and otherworldly.
Is there anything unusual you had to do for the book?
One of my friends needed to act out the creation of Adam, so we buried him in the sand and did some live action photography. I wanted to describe the wonder of him being formed from the dust of the earth. My friend totally got into character and it was awesome!!
Are there any other books in the works?
Yes, the book I initially came to Grail Quest Books with, The Perfect Prince. It is the story of a princess and is written as poetry. The first page reads “There once lived a princess so far away, she wanted a prince and each day she would pray, ‘Dear Father in Heaven please send me a sign, let me know he is here the one who is mine, but in the meantime dear lord all I ask you to do, please mold me, please shape me to be more like you’”. There is a surprise ending too!
What role does your faith play in the creation of art?
God is the source of all things. “All things were made by him and for him” Colossians 1:16. My art is inspired by His word and creation. When Jesus says “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), he is right. When my art is made with the intent of learning more about Him and expressing Christ, the meaning is deep and transcendent. In abiding in the vine, Christ, I have an endless source of ideas and concepts. His word and truth and life fill me up and is then poured out into the art.
How can people see your artwork?
My Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/agnusdeiarts/.
My website is www.agnusdeiarts.com.
My email address is [email protected].