• Marjorie van Heerden grew up on a farm in the Hex River Valley in South
    Africa. From an early age she loved drawing animals and fairies and
    people and dinosaurs and children and dragons and monsters and today
    they appear in all shapes and sizes in books that feature her work.

    Since the publication of her first children’s picture book in 1983
    Marjorie has written and/or illustrated more than 130 children’s books
    and has been published in 35 languages in Africa, England, Europe, the
    USA, China and Malaysia.

    She and her husband, Johann, lived in Stellenbosch near Cape Town for 20
    years, in Johannesburg for a decade, travelled for eighteen months on
    honeymoon in a camper van around Europe, lived for a year on the banks
    of Lake Michigan in the USA and for four years in a forest on a mountain
    north of Athens in Greece. From each of these places Marjorie drew
    inspiration for her menagerie of animals, fairies, dragons, monsters and
    people that feature in her work.

    Although she and her husband have travelled far and wide, they always
    returned to South Africa and now live in Gordon’s Bay, a coastal village
    near Cape Town. They have two children, a daughter and a son, and three
    granddaughters. Now her Gordon’s Bay studio overlooks False Bay, once
    again near Cape Town.

    Marjorie learnt about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and
    Illustrators (SCBWI) during their stay in Greece and was co-founder of
    the Greek chapter. After returning to South Africa in 2003 she started
    the South African chapter and was a co-regional advisor until December
    2018 when she received SCBWI Regional Advisor Emeritus status.

    Amongst the awards she has won for her books, Marjorie received the
    M.E.R. Award (one of the Media24 Books literary awards) for best South
    African illustrated children’s book twice, in 2008 and in 2012.

    For more detailed CV go to –  https://marjorie-cv.blogspot.com/


  • I love picture books. I remember when I was about four years old my mother gave me a book called Ferdinand the Bull (first published in 1937). Half a century later I realize what a profound impact that little book had on me – in my young mind it triggered a fascination with the interaction between words and pictures. I remember pouring over that book and loving lines like “His mother saw that he was not lonely, and because she was an understanding mother; even though she was a cow, she let him just sit there and be happy.” I remember some pictures showed far away scenes with big empty white areas on the rest of the page and other pictures showed close-up figures completely filling the page. I wanted to draw pictures like that. Later, when it became clear that my dyslexia made words harder than pictures, I started focusing more and more on expressing myself though drawing, even as a child. And it all started with a little bull who loved smelling the flowers.
    To share a few notes on the technique and materials I currently enjoy using when I illustrate a children’s picture book: After completing a full set of rough pencil drawings and sorting out the design and layout of the book, I like to choose a specific paper that would suit the atmosphere of the story best. Generally I find that a fast-paced story wants a rougher paper, whereas an intimate, quiet story benefits from a smoother, fine paper on which I can do much more detailed work. I then redraw the illustration onto the selected paper, often using a light box. Next I paint a wash onto the illustration area of the page to indicate light source and finish the detailed drawing with crayons over the wash.
    I use Caran d’Ache ‘Neocolor II Aquarelle’ oil pastels. Oil pastels that are water soluble! It also scans very well. Four makes of paper that work well for me are Canson Mi-teintes 160g/m2 (when I want yo use a colour paper), Fabriano 4 Liscio 220g/m2 (especially when working in Monochrne – Pen and ink or conti pencil), Bainbridge Coquille Bristol #2 Has a lovely texture – I did the Alice in Wonderland illustrations on this paper) and Saunders HP 190 grms – (wonderful for washes – takes watercolour very well), I currently like the last one best…

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