Denise Ortakales (pronounced or-ta-KEL-lis, like Ellis Island) started buying children’s books long before she had her first baby—great research for a future children’s book author/illustrator. When she was pregnant with her second son, she discovered a book that had significant impact on her life and career. Paper Sculpture: A Step-By-Step Guide by Kathleen Ziegler and Nick Greco set her on the pathway that led to a successful career in illustration.
Ortakales’ process of creating art with sculpted paper starts with a sketch. She then enlarges the sketch on tracing paper. Cutting the shapes from heavier stock, she uses colored paper and sometimes paints it to create a custom look. Guided by the thin overlay, she puts the shapes in place and uses a spacer behind selected shapes. When the finished piece is photographed, shadows are created giving depth and dimension to the work.
Her writing career started back when she was attending the Art Institute of Boston. She wrote the text for The Legend of the Old Man of the Mountain for one of her classes in school. Filed away for several years, she pulled it out when the Old Man fell in 2003 and Sleeping Bear Press published the story.
Ortakales wrapped up the spring lineup in our Author-To-Author Speaker Series. The series will resume in the fall with YA author/literary agent Rebecca Podos on Wednesday, September 21 at 10 a.m. at the Portsmouth Public Library.