Meet the Author/Illustrator

Floyd Cooper

Portrait of Floyd Cooper

At age three, Floyd Cooper began drawing on pieces of plasterboard left over from his father's work as a builder. He drew constantly after that, even on his math and reading worksheets in school! After getting his college degree in fine art, Cooper got a job creating art for a greeting card company. But he dreamed of being an illustrator in New York City, and, with the encouragement of the artist Mark English, he moved there. After some rejections, he got a book manuscript to illustrate. Only later did Cooper find out that the book, Grandpa's Face, was written by Eloise Greenfield, a well-known children's writer. Cooper's illustrations for the book brought him a lot of attention, and his career has continued to grow ever since.

The technique Cooper uses is called oil wash on board. He paints an illustration board with oil paint, and then he does something unusual. With a stretchy eraser, he erases the paint to make a picture! He calls this method of painting a "subtractive process." He likes to demonstrate this technique for kids to show them "that there can be different approaches to age-old problems."

Floyd Cooper says, "My personal goal is to take the reader on a journey into the story, to get a sense of the smells, the atmosphere, and the emotions conveyed by the characters." Look again at the illustrations for Happy Birthday, Dr. King! What sensory details (smell, touch, hearing, sight, and taste) are highlighted in the pictures? Share your ideas with a partner.

Photography Credit


Other Books Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

  • Grandpa's Face
    (written by Eloise Greenfield)
  • Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea
    (written by Joyce Carol Thomas)
  • Meet Danitra Brown
    (written by Nikki Grimes)
  • Jaguarundi
    (written by Virginia Hamilton)
  • Satchmo's Blues
    (written by Alan Schroeder)
  • Ma Dear's Aprons
    (written by Patricia McKissack)
  • Miz Berlin Walks
    (written by Jane Yolen)
  • The Buffalo Soldiers
    (written by Robert H. Miller)
  • Granddaddy's Street Songs
    (written by Monalisa Degross)

Other Books Written and Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

  • Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes
  • Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman
  • Cumbayah