Today on the blog, we’re sharing a Q&A conducted with Elizabeth Erazo Baez, the illustrator of the recently released Alicia and the Hurricane / Alicia y el huracán: A Story of Puerto Rico / Un cuento de Puerto Rico.
Lee & Low: Congratulations on the release of your debut children’s book, Alicia and the Hurricane / Alicia y el huracán: A Story of Puerto Rico / Un cuento de Puerto Rico! What attracted you to Alicia’s story and made you want to work on this project?
Elizabeth Erazo Baez: I loved the idea that it was based off a family in Puerto Rico. I loved that my first illustrated book would be related to Puerto Rico.
Lee & Low: What is your typical process for book illustration projects? How did you begin this process?
Elizabeth Erazo Baez: For this book as well as commissioned paintings, my process is research first. I look at photos, books and stories about the subject. I compose the illustrations with inspiration from these ideas. Sketches are created. Revisions are made, some a lot more than others. There are a lot of things to learn about the process of illustrating a book and designing the layout. I am happy with the outcome of all the work, it was well worth it.
Lee & Low: The textures and the colors in the book are so rich. Can you share more about the medium(s) and tools you used to create the art?
Elizabeth Erazo Baez: I use acrylic paint. I love the medium of acrylic paint because of its rich colors, the texture of paint can be applied thin or heavy, no odor and it is easy to clean. When I paint, it is goes on for many hours until I am so tired I can’t lift my brush. I enjoy other mediums as well, charcoal, oil and watercolors.
When I begin a painting I will sketch it out onto canvas it is usually with charcoal. I will make the necessary adjustments with charcoal before painting. When I apply paint, I just go in. I paint from background to foreground. Painting is simply the best part, it is therapy and joy all mixed into one. It is also quite satisfying to have a feeling of accomplishing something out of nothing.
Lee & Low: Can you share a favorite spread and tell us both why it is your favorite and the detailed process behind creating it?
Elizabeth Erazo Baez: I am very happy with the book’s art. I really tried hard to paint knowing I would look onto it later, and wanted to feel proud of the work. I am proud of all of the pages of this work. I guess I like the little coquís with the moonlight. This is very easy to close your eyes and imagine them singing.
Lee & Low: Do you have any special connection to the coquís or Alicia’s story that you would be willing to share?
Elizabeth Erazo Baez: I believe anyone that has spent an evening in Puerto Rico would have a connection to the coquís song. Some have trouble sleeping because they can be loud. Some sleep soundly with the reassuring sound of their song. I feel like a reminder that I have returned to home when I hear the song.
Lee & Low: What are you working on next?
Elizabeth Erazo Baez: I continue to paint, teach and exhibit. As long as God graces me with art is in my life, I am happy.
Order your copy of Alicia and the Hurricane / Alicia y el huracán:
Elizabeth Erazo Baez is a Puerto Rican visual artist who is inspired by the greenery of Puerto Rico and the beauty of its landscapes. As a result, her paintings focus on tropical scenes and portraits of the Caribbean. She also works as an elementary school art teacher. Baez lives with her family in Miami, Florida. You can find her online at baezfineart.com.