Sincerely, Mark Teague

Sincerely, Mark Teague—a retrospective featuring original art from author-illustrator Mark Teague—opened at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) in the summer of 2016. This exhibition showcases work from Teague’s various books, including the How Do Dinosaurs series and the La Rue stories. The art in this exhibition will enthrall young and old alike, as Teague likes to find humor in the everyday events of childhood. Teague’s humor and finesse is seen in his art which draws everyone to pick up the books and explore Mark Teague’s world.

Having never taken an art class in his life, Teague discovered his love and talent for drawing through trial and error. It is this passion and talent that has made Mark Teague one of today's top illustrators for children. However, initially, Teague had never considered illustrating as a career, even though he had enjoyed sketching and doodling from a young age. Before he was old enough to write, Teague used to dictate stories to his mom. She would then type them up these stories and he would illustrate the tales, which were often frog adventures. Teague graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a degree in U.S. history and then moved to New York city in 1986. While in New York, he got a job creating window displays for Barnes & Noble and became intrigued by the children’s books that surrounded him.  

“When I was a kid, most of the illustrations were pen-and-ink with one or two-color overlays--that was my idea of children’s books. But I was inspired by what I saw at the store, especially books by Chris Van Allsburg, Richard Egielski and William Joyce.” ~Mark Teague

Teague soon developed an idea for a book about a boy and a cat who were homesick for the life they had before moving to a big city. He showed his sketches to the children’s book buyer at Barnes & Noble who then introduced him to Jean Feiwel at Scholastic. Feiwel liked the book and in 1989, Scholastic published The Trouble with the Johnsons. That same year, Publishers Weekly featured Teague as one of eleven prominent new authors to watch.

Teague's books always start as sketches, scribbles, strange little drawings, and phrases that seem cryptic. For Teague, his sketches are the most important part of the whole process. The next step is making a book "dummy,” a more formal set of sketches, which he shares with his editor and art director. Done in pencil, these sketches will give the editor and art director an idea of what the actual paintings will look like. When everything is approved, Teague is ready to paint. His pictures are usually the size that they will appear in the books. He uses a 140-pound watercolor paper and applies gesso to this paper. Next, Teague draws his pictures, using the dummy sketches as a reference. Teague then builds up his paintings by using many thin washes, with thicker coats applied at the end. He has worked with several different media to achieve his desired results but Teague prefers acrylic gouache paints for their versatility.