Our woodsy and magical coloring book In the Leaves is one of our favorites to take with on hikes or trips because of the amazing plants and animal illustrations. In the Leaves was illustrated by Sara Hopkins, an artist and children's librarian who studied writing and illustration during her undergraduate degree at the Sage Colleges. She has always been passionate about creating new characters and making them come to life on paper. In real life, she shares her home with a poodle named Charlie and nine parrots. We asked her a few questions about her work an what inspires her to make the magical creatures from In the Leaves.
How did you get your start in drawing?
I've been drawing for as long as I can remember and once I got into high school, I realized that this was something I wanted to pursue seriously. I began cleaning the studio of a local artist in return for drawing lessons to help prepare me for art school. During college, I began selling my work and local art events and conventions, which helped me build enough confidence to approach publishers. I still go to local art events, but now I have my very own books to sell.
What kinds of ideas, places, or things inspire you?
Stories inspire me most. Growing up, my favorite stories were Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows. I'm always on the hunt for new fairy tales and frequently listen to audio books as I draw. Working as a children's librarian during the day gives me access to the most amazing stories and illustrations - you never run out of inspiration at the library!
What colors are you drawn to and why?
I love deep, rich greens and browns - they remind me of the forest. I also love the classic black and white illustrations in old books.
What projects are you working on right now?
I am currently drawing more forest and garden critters for a coloring book, as well as drawing some imaginary creatures for a game project. I try to set aside a bit of time every week for "free drawing" as well - just letting my pen go and seeing where it takes me!
In the Leaves has a lot of woodland creatures, why do you like drawing plants and animals?
Growing up, I was an only child, but I was always surrounded by animals, so I never felt lonely. I've always had a very strong bond with animals and nothing is more important to me than spending time with my birds! I've always been drawn to the forest and fill my house with lots of plants so even in winter, I get to be surrounded by leaves and flowers.
What other kinds of things do you like drawing?
While I draw lots of real-life animals and plants, I also really enjoy getting to make up my own creatures. Sometimes I'll draw a flamingo with the body of a snake or give a kitten a unicorn's horn. Bending the rules can be so much fun, and it helps to break me out of any art ruts I get into.
What do you do when you’re not drawing?
When I'm not drawing, I tend to be playing with my pets and plants. I'm also a yoga instructor and love experimenting with new ways to move and stretch.
We loved the chance getting to know Sara more and learn more about what inspires her as an artist and designer. Thank you Sara!