LIGHTBURN, Ron




Author Tags: Essentials 2010, Illustration

QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

Founded by Bob Tyrrell and now co-owned by Andrew Wooldridge, Orca Books evolved from its initial regional focus to become one of Canada’s most successful imprints for children’s and young adult literature. As much as any other title, it was Waiting for the Whales (1991), illustrated by Ron Lightburn, that turned the tide. It received the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration. The story by Sheryl McFarlane concerns a grandfather who conveys to his granddaughter his deep pleasure in the seasonal cycles of nature. After his death, the child gains comfort from the seasonal return of the orcas.

For his coloured pencil illustrations in Waiting for the Whales, Ron Lightburn used friends and family members to pose for the major characters and proceeded to photograph them. “You’re the cinematographer and the producer,” he said. “I explained the story very carefully to them, then gave directions on how and where to look. This is a classic tradition in illustration, as old as photography.” Once the editor approved his colour roughs, he projected them onto larger pieces of paper. Lightburn has compared “the transition between spreads in a picture book to the editing cuts in a film.” Born in Cobourg, Ontario, and raised in West Vancouver, Ron Lightburn settled in Victoria in 1975, then relocated with his wife and co-author, Sandra Lightburn, to Nova Scotia in 1997.

Lightburn has won numerous other awards, but his Governor General’s Award remains particularly significant because it drew national attention to the children’s list of Orca Books in Victoria. “That’s how you get good manuscripts,” Orca founder Bob Tyrrell has commented, “by winning awards.”

B.C.’s maven of children’s literature, Judith Saltman, points to Ann Blades’ self-illustrated Mary of Mile 18 (1971) as her choice for a breakthrough illustrated title by a B.C. writer. The published-from-Ontario story is based on Blades’ experiences as a teacher at Mile 18, a village on the Alaska Highway. The Vancouver Art Gallery exhibited paintings for the book and the Canadian Association of Children’s Librarians chose it as Book of the Year in 1972. Among Blades’ more than twenty titles, her enduring and charming picture book, A Salmon for Simon (1978), with text by Betty Waterton, was the first published-in-B.C. children’s book to win a Governor General’s Children’s Literature Award and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award.


FULL ENTRY:

Born in Cobourg, Ontario, he was raised in West Vancouver and attended the Alberta College of Art in Calgary. Settling in Victoria in 1975, he pursued a career as a commercial illustrator prior to finding success as an illustrator for books. His work was exhibited on numerous occasions prior to Waiting for the Whales (Orca 1991), a story by Sheryl McFarlane about a grandfather who conveys to his granddaughter his deep pleasure in the seasonal cycles of nature. After his death, the child gains comfort from the seasonal return of the orca whales.

For his coloured pencil illustrations, Lightburn used friends and family members to pose for the major characters and proceeded to photograph them. "You're the cinematographer and the producer," he said. "I explained the story very carefully to them, then gave directions on how and where to look. This is a classic tradition in illustration, as old as photography." Once the editor approved his colour roughs, he projected them onto larger pieces of paper, approaching his work like a cinematographer. Lightburn has compared "the transition between spreads in a picture book to the editing cuts in a film."

Lightburn's work has earned him the Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration (1992), the Elizabeth Mrazik Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award (1992), the Mr. Christie Book Award (1997) and the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Prize (1998). The Governor General's Award was particularly significant because it drew national attention to the children's list of Orca Books in Victoria. "That's how you get good manuscripts," Orca founder Bob Tyrrell has commented, "by winning awards." Tyrrell's press, now co-owned by Andrew Wooldridge has since evolved from its regional focus to become Canada's most prodigious imprint for children's and young adult literature.

In 1997, Ron Lightburn and his wife Sandra relocated to the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

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For other B.C. book illustrators, see abcbookworld entries for Banks, Robert; Bateman, Robert; Berman, Rachel; Bevis, Vivian; Bonder, Dianna; Bridgeman, Kristi; Calvert, Lissa; Campbell, Laila; Campbell, Ruth; Clover, Gordon; Cohen, Bill; Coleman, Sue; Corbel, Eve; Coulson, Evi; Courbault, Martine; Cowles, Rose; Craigan, Charlie; Czernecki, Stefan; Daniel, C. Stuart; Deas, Mike; Eidlitz, Barbara; Einarson, Earl; Elsner, Gretchen; Ferguson-Dumais, Maggie; Filbrandt, Rod; Flett, Julie; Fodi, Lee Edward; Forsyth, Bonita; Gait, Darlene; George, Jr., Leonard; Godin, Tom; Gordon-Findlay, Lynn; Gourbault, Martine; Griffiths, Dean; Guzek, Greta; Hamelin, Marie-Micheline; Harrington, Jennifer; Harrison, Ted; Hill, Stephanie; Hobson, Megan; Houston, Deryk; Huber, June; Hunter, Helen Downing; Juhasz, George; Kazenbroot, Nelly; Kimber, Murray; Kyle, Margaret; La Fave, Kim; Larson, Joan; Leger, Michael; Leist, Christina; Littlechild, George; Longman, Mary; Lott, Sheena; Lovett, Glen; Maté, Rae; Mayne, Elizabeth; McAusland, William; McCallum, Stephen; McPhail, David; Morstad, Julie; Mowatt, Ken; Norris, Len; Nugent, Cynthia; Osborne, Tom; Penn, Briony; Phillips, W.S.; Randall, Wally; Ritchie, Scot; van Sandwyk, Charles; Shefrin, Sima Elizabeth; Shoemaker, Kathryn; Sinclair, Jeff; Swannell, Anne; Syme, Marion; T’Kenye, Caddie; Valerio, Geraldo; Visser, Tineke; Wakelin, Kirsti Anne; Wang, Jacqueline; Wapp, Josh; Wilson, Janet; Wolsak, Jane; Wolsak, Wendy; Woods, Emily H.] @2010.


BOOKS ILLUSTRATED:

Waiting for the Whales (1991) by Sheryl McFarlane
I Can't Sleep (1992) by Patti Farmer
Eagle Dreams (1994) by Sheryl McFarlane
Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler (1994)
Driftwood Cove (1998) by Sandra Lightburn
How Smudge Came (1996) by Nan Gregory
Pumpkin People (2008) by Sandra Lightburn

[Image: From the cover of Waiting for the Whales]

[BCBW 2010]

Speech



Michael Burris of the B.C. Library Association presented the Sheila Egoff Children’s Literature Prize to Sandra and Ron Lightburn for Driftwood Cove (Doubleday). The Lightburns lived in Victoria for 22 years before recently moving to Nova Scotia.

RON LIGHTBURN: “In high school we were a couple of kids who shared pizzas and a love of books. Over the years, as I fumbled along in my career, Sandra has always been there to give me words of encouragement. With Driftwood Cove, she gave me words of inspiration.”

[BCBW SUMMER 1999]


Ron Lightburn
Bio Material (2015)



SUPPLIED BY AUTHOR

I was born in 1954 in Cobourg, Ontario. In 1958 my family moved to British Columbia where I attended school in West Vancouver and Chemainus. I completed my secondary education in Calgary, Alberta and then attended the Alberta College of Art from 1973 – 75. Following a move to Victoria, B.C. in 1975 I began my illustration career with work for a variety of advertising, editorial and government clients. I have been a resident of Nova Scotia since 1997 and live in the beautiful Annapolis Valley with my partner Sandra.

In 1984 I won the Western Magazine Award for Illustration. I illustrated my first children’s picture book, Waiting for the Whales, in 1991 and received three national awards including the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration. I have since illustrated twelve children’s books and have become internationally renowned for my visual storytelling skills and range of illustration styles. My children’s books have been published in nine countries and eight languages with total sales of over 600,000 copies.

In 2005 my paintings for the children’s book, A Poppy Is to Remember, were selected to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in the Library and Archives Canada publication Read Up On It: A Wish For Peace. My picture book, Roll On: Rick Hansen Wheels Around the World, was published by Greystone Books in the fall of 2012. Written by Ainslie Manson, it tells the story of Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion world tour.

FRANKENSTINK! Garbage Gone Bad (Tundra Books 2015) is the first picture book I have illustrated and written. Inspired by the monster movies and comic books of my youth, it is a fun monster-under-the-bed story as well as a cautionary tale about the need to compost and recycle.

I have given drawing, painting and illustration presentations and workshops to children and adults across Canada from St. John’s to Victoria. During the past thirty years my artwork has graced the covers of over sixty books and has been featured in magazines, calendars, posters and advertisements across North America. My client list includes the Province of Nova Scotia, the Town of Kentville, the Province of British Columbia, Aliant, The Walt Disney Company, CP Hotels and the Heritage Canada Foundation. Several of my Waiting for the Whales illustrations were featured in the 1995 Twentieth Century Fox film Far From Home. I have had numerous exhibitions of personal artwork and my drawings and paintings are included in private collections throughout North America. My artwork has been recognized and exhibited by The Society of Illustrators in New York and is included in the permanent collections of Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books in Toronto and the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy in Toronto.