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New Ipswich artist turns to children’s books

  • Matt Patterson, a New Ipswich illustrator, offers a prairie scene in his newly published children’s book, “Daylight Moonlight.” This scene was inspired by a trip to Yellowstone National Park, where Patterson proposed to his wife.

    Matt Patterson, a New Ipswich illustrator, offers a prairie scene in his newly published children’s book, “Daylight Moonlight.” This scene was inspired by a trip to Yellowstone National Park, where Patterson proposed to his wife.

  • Nighttime wildlife, including burrowing owls, collared peccaries and coyotes, roam the desert landscape, in a new children's book by New Ipswich illustrator Matt Patterson.

    Nighttime wildlife, including burrowing owls, collared peccaries and coyotes, roam the desert landscape, in a new children's book by New Ipswich illustrator Matt Patterson.

  • A night scene shows some of the wild and domestic animals that might be seen in a city setting.

    A night scene shows some of the wild and domestic animals that might be seen in a city setting.

  • A city park, featuring pigeons, butterflies and cottontail rabbits, shows some of the animal life that thrives in local cities.

    A city park, featuring pigeons, butterflies and cottontail rabbits, shows some of the animal life that thrives in local cities.

  • Matt Patterson, a New Ipswich illustrator, offers a prairie scene in his newly published children’s book, “Daylight Moonlight.” This scene was inspired by a trip to Yellowstone National Park, where Patterson proposed to his wife.
  • Nighttime wildlife, including burrowing owls, collared peccaries and coyotes, roam the desert landscape, in a new children's book by New Ipswich illustrator Matt Patterson.
  • A night scene shows some of the wild and domestic animals that might be seen in a city setting.
  • A city park, featuring pigeons, butterflies and cottontail rabbits, shows some of the animal life that thrives in local cities.

The son of a biologist, Matt Patterson first found his love of animals at his father’s knee. Patterson has also made animals the focus of his life’s work — but not as a scientist — as an artist.

In 2010, Patterson, a New Ipswich resident, collaborated with his father, David Patterson, to illustrate a field guide called “Freshwater Fish of the Northeast.” But the book was intended to be a combination adult field guide and coffee table book. Patterson decided to focus his next project on a book that would give children the opportunity to learn about animals and where they live.

“Daylight Moonlight,” written and illustrated by Patterson, was released this year by Schiffer Publishing of Atglen, Penn. Patterson will be making an appearance at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough on Saturday to discuss the book.

Targeted at young children, the illustrations in the book depict a variety of North American landscapes and the wildlife that inhabit them, both during the day and nighttime hours. From the scorching desert to the Florida tropics, and even the average backyard, the whole gamut of North American habitats are featured.

“Wildlife is what I’ve always been interested in,” Patterson said in an interview Sunday. “I wanted to combine that with my art. I thought this book would be a fun way for kids to be exposed to different animals and see the change in the same habitat based on the time of day.”

A few of the 11 habitats featured in his book hold a special place in Patterson’s heart. The book begins with a day and night desert scene, and this is also where Patterson began developing the book. These two were the first illustrations — all hand painted with oil and acrylic — of an eight-month process Patterson took to illustrate the book. The book is light on words, intended to allow young children to explore the environments depicted, and pick out and identify different animals. So the illustrations were particularly important, and the desert pair were the ones Patterson sent to publishers as part of his book proposal, and really got the project off the ground.

The pages devoted to the “Backyard” could very well depict the backyard of just about anyone, but in fact it’s a specific backyard: Patterson’s. He even included a little personal touch. A pigeon peaking into one of the upper windows isn’t really common backyard wildlife in New Ipswich, and it isn’t identified in the species guide at the back of the book. That pigeon is actually an old pet of Patterson’s that used to visit him on his windowsill and watch him while he drew.

Usually, Patterson draws local wildlife, and is able to go out and see the animals in those habitats and take his own reference photos. For “Daylight Moonlight,” however, his process was a little different, since he was depicting scenes from different areas all across the United States. But Patterson did have experience in one area far from home, which served as the inspiration for his “Prairie” paintings.

“Another one that I really like is the daytime prairie scene,” said Patterson. “That painting does have a little bit of a story behind it. On a camping trip in Yellowstone, I proposed to my wife in a field of buffalo. I used some references I took from that trip and had that story in mind when I was painting that particular illustration.”

Now that “Daylight Moonlight” is complete, Patterson said, he’ll be taking a break from children’s books to do a follow up to “Freshwater Fish of the Northeast.” He’s planning to to illustrate another field-guide book on local reptiles, which will include over 90 illustrations. He’ll also be focusing on his gallery paintings once again.

Patterson will be signing and discussing “Daylight Moonlight” on Saturday at 11 a.m. For more information about Patterson, visit mpattersonart.com.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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