This isn’t the sort of post I’m used to writing on this website. Things have been mostly quiet here since I returned from SCBWI-NE last spring which is usually a pretty big no-no in the social media world. Obviously I’ve been busy working on various projects but nothing really post-able. Mostly, I’ve been working on another contract building digital high school math course curriculum for k12.com and I’ve started picking up smaller info-graphics and corporate graphic jobs again as well. My k12Â contract ended this week and this is the first weekend I haven’t had to work in months!
My husband, Bill’s, job also ended inÂ October. AfterÂ 14 years in federal business development, prop and grant managing/writing and tech writing/editing on staff for various companies, he decided he wanted to stay freelance and support smaller businesses. Because we both areÂ now freelance, we decided to file for anÂ LLC the day before Thanksgiving. We’reÂ still waiting on the name andÂ number before I make us some cards and an online presenceÂ for the new biz which, if all goes well, will be called Illumination Services, LLC (as in – illuminated manuscript – the combination of words and images). So today, at the Virginia Women’s Business Conference, I found myself handing out my illustration business cards with this website URL because that’s what I had on hand.
I didn’t actually plan to attend this conference. Actually, I didn’t know about it. Despite 20+ years alternating between employee and contractor status, I am still just starting to wrap my head around the idea that I’m a businesswoman. Â Today happened… by a confluence of events.
Last year, my friend, Dana asked her friends to start collecting bras for a project that helped homeless women. We were (really she was) so successful that she started a non-profit company called Support the Girls(which has been getting a lot of press – here’s one from the Washington Post). At the end of this summer, she asked me if I wouldn’t mind doing another collection. I can’t say no because this isn’t hard. So I asked my friends in the MOMs Club, the Preschool, on-line, and a Facebook group called Buy Nothing Reston for donations (the final count this year was 102 bras and a kitchen garbage bag full of feminine hygiene products!).
On the Buy nothing group,Â Kim Lysik Di Santi noticed my post requesting donations. She and I were still strangers but she had met Dana a few years back and was very impressed with Dana’s work both at her primary company,Â Accessibility Partners, as well as Support the Girls. Kim has attended and volunteered for the Virginia Women’s Business Conference since its inception. SheÂ asked me if I would like to nominate my friend for their annual Stellar Woman Award. I said sure! and she emailed me the forms. My eyes crossed a little. This was more Bill’s bailiwick than mine. I asked him and he very kindly helped me put together the nomination with additional help from Dana’s colleague, Sharon.
Surprise! I was informed two weeks ago that Dana was a finalist for the award! Wooooo Hooooo! So, slightly unprepared and glassy-eyed, I attended the conference today as Dana’s guest. I participated in some informative business 101 sessions and a fascinating legal presentation by Nancy Greene. I met a bunch of truly fabulous women in all stages of the business world, and ultimately felt a lot less like a fish out of water than I’d expected to.
It’s hard to believe it was only a week ago that I wasÂ in Springfield MA, attending the NE SCBWI conference. Wow, whatÂ a fantastic weekend! I met great people, connected with “internet friends” (in person!), learned lots, got inspired, and now have quite a lot ofÂ work to do.Â I made a a bunchÂ of mental notes to try and remember to blogÂ about — I probably won’t get it all but hopefully I’ll getÂ the interesting bits.
There were sooooooo many wonderful workshops to pick from when I registered. I had a hard time choosing them as I couldn’t be in two or three places at once. My only disappointment was not getting more time with Patrick Carman. He’s doing some amazingly innovative work integrating media but his keynote didn’t really go into this and I unfortunately had to choseÂ other workshops over his.
Randomly (because if you know me, I often toss in something totally random)Â the best out-of-context quote I overheard all weekend was “Yes! She found her dongle in her chamber pot!” (I can only assume they were talking aboutÂ Sarah Albee)
Tips forÂ Storytelling
I’m not sure if anyone talked about “what does this character want more than anything in the world?” but I heard a few people mention it as something we should already know and then going on from there. Maybe that focus is already old news?
Be careful that you don’t write an idea instead of a story. You can have a great concept but it’s nothing without an arc.
If your story has an emotional theme (heart), it should boil down to one unifying emotion overall. (This ties in nicely with a parallel through-line of action)
“This story is about x, but it is REALLY about Z” (for example, Little Blue Truck goes out for a drive but it’s REALLY about the virtues of being a good friend.)
From Tara Lazar (Beginning, Middle, End – I’m bummed I had to miss the MIDDLEÂ of Tara’s workshop for my portfolio review. Only slightly ironic.)
Give the who, what, when and where but lead your reader to ask “why”?
First sentences are your hook but a resolution need not be the end. What happens after “happily ever…?” (not strictly necessary, but it leaves room for a sequel) Also,Â don’t give away the farm. It’s ok to leave some things ambiguous.
A great ending is inevitable – audience cannot imagine it ending any other way (this was repeated by several other presenters over the weekend).
If your ending isn’t satisfying, the problem is probably in your middle.
Children need to solve their own problems. No Parent ex machina.
FromÂ Aubrey Poole (Getting Outside Your Zone of Comfort: The Heroâ€™s Journey applied to Character Development)
Using the Hero’s Journey as an arc, a character enters an unfamiliar situation and has to adapt to it.
Going outside the character’s comfort zone creates tension.
Character wants something (it may not be his dream), pays a price for it (sacrifices his dream for it), and maybe gets a different version of it than he thinks he wants, Â concluding with a return to a “new normal” (falling action), the resolution having changed the character.
Exception to this is the “steadfast character” who re-commits to who they are rather than changing who they are.
Echoing Tara, If your ending feels flat, without emotional response, your resolution is unsatisfactory (again, aÂ great ending is inevitable).
From Wendy Mass‘ Keynote (Getting from Here to There (and Back Again)Â with your Sanity Intact)
Cut out unnecessary words (thank you, Stunk and White) and avoid any form of the verb “to be” (can someone please remind me which play that was in? I can’t ever hear that without being reminded of a play I saw in middle school…)
â€œSubstitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.â€ – Mark Twain.
â€œLive as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.â€ Â Gandhi
â€œDon’t look back, you’re not going that way.â€
And then she gave us all awesome waterproof notebooks made of stone because of course we all do our best thinking in the bath or shower.
Sarah gave us A LOT of great information on how to present our work to optimal marketability.
There is subjectivity as to whether or not you should put your contact information on the front of your postcard. Some say you MUST in case you get pinned to a wall. Others say it’s not a big deal to just turn the card over.
Be careful not to include “portraits” in your portfolio. They don’t tell stories.
Avoid showing character’s backs for sample art.
An illustration needs to tell a story, make the viewer ask questions about what is happening in the illustration and what is going to happen next.
An illustration needs to show emotion and relationship between characters (keep an eye on the eyes. The eyes have it!).
Use motion and gesture.
Details! Plenty of details (this was also mentioned in the First Look panel as well as Brian Lies’ workshop – see below)
Details are even more important in fairy tales because we already KNOW the story.
The technical execution of the piece and it’s medium is less important than the story it tells and the emotion it conveys.
If an image is meant to be a postcard, make sure it works in a small scale.
For a portfolio piece, it may be a good idea to leave room for text – a space where the text will obviously go.
Be aware of the gutter. Don’t put important stuff in the middle of a spread (1/2″ at least).
If submitting to magazines, review their formats and submit with those formats in mind (tall and skinny? side panels?)
If there is something out there that you really want to illustrate, put samples of that in your portfolio. Show the work you’d like to do more of.
Keep the style consistent. Push a style that is your signature. You will be hired for predictability.
Another thing you are showing off in your portfolio is your design sense.
Send postcards 3-4 times a year when you are first starting out, then twiceÂ a year when you’re more established.
Don’t forget to send to junior editors and art directors. They keep boards too.
Exercises similar to theatrical improv games that are meant to spark your creativity and enhance your skills.
In which we created 30 sketches in 1 hour. Wow, that was painful. Sergio gave us verbal prompts that we had to draw and timed us. I think some of the participants got a little frustrated but this was an amazingly liberating exercise.
Our last assignment was to take 3 of these sketches and combine them into a 3-panel story or logical sequence like three mice meet a hippo and then go off to watch the sun set. I actually kind of like what I came up with and plan to finish it.
This is a great exercise which, of course, we can all do at home, or over Skype, or something like that. We just need to make a list of 30 prompts.
FromÂ Dan MoynihanÂ (Spark New Ideas with Drawing!” and “Pictures First! Draw Out Your Story”)
“As I draw the characters, I learn about the characters.”
Both of Dan’s workshops consisted of games. The first was really an after dinner game where we all drew in magic marker colors and passed our work around the table embellishing each other’s sketches.
Our second game was constructing an illustrated story by passing work along after each spread. The results were hilarious. I pretty much forgot how to draw entirely right about then. Some of us presented these monstrosities to “the class” afterwards.
The second workshop the following day was similar to Sergio’s in thatÂ DanÂ had us draw, but instead of different things we drew to the same prompt word over and over and over again in order to help find the story within our illustrations.
And then we drew the same character over and over and over again doing different things. This is one way to learn about the character.
I’ve always been more linear and had never thought to “draw out” a story this way but it totally works. You draw different sketchesÂ until they connect, piece them together until the story arc makes sense, then put them into the dummy and proceed to tighten them up.
FromÂ Brian LiesÂ (The Angelâ€™s in the Details: Going Beyond First-Order ThinkingÂ in Illustration World-Building)
Sidenote – I could just sit and listen to Brain read the phone book (if I still had one). He has such a great voice!
Details give us information (historical, geographical, demographics)
Details puzzle and delight us.
Details take us away from the generic and tell us stories about the characters. Like props and costumes. We know people and characters by their “stuff.”
Name (and nickname) your characters.
Put in things for the “grown-ups” to find – especially when they have to read the book over and over again (and you want them to, right?)
Convincing details lead to a convincing illustration – Mice wouldn’t have cheese wallpaper any more than humans have pizza wallpaper.
Scale is important – A bear would write a BIG letter. A mouse would write a LITTLE letter. A bear’s letter in a mouse’s house would be pretty big.
Brian gave us an exercise where we were to populate a portion of a character’s life with thoughtful details. This exercise taught us a little more about our characters (If you are a writer and don’t want to draw, you can simply make a list).
Finally… About the (my) Creative ChallengeÂ
And this one was definitely a challenge.
Before the conference we had to do the usual promotional prep work (cards, portfolios, in come cases buttons — I’ll have to remember that for next time! They’re just jingly fun to share). But we were also tasked with an illustration challenge to “Re-Invent Jules Verne. Choose anything written by Jules Verne and reinvent it, bring it into the 21st century. Anything goes, as long as itâ€™s kid through teen friendly” at a double page 16″ x 10″ size. Â I picked From the Earth to the Moon. As part of my updating, I rewrote the quote.
I don’t consider this piece finished. I just ran out of time. And it’s got a lot of problems (hopefully I see more of them than you do!) but I do like it. I challenged myself to push a little more into the abstract layout than I usually go, mostly because of the Folger Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Seriously.
I realize that there is absolutely no obvious connection here. But it had to do with the stage set and the placement of a wedding cake high up in the back wall ABOVE the wedding scene. But it made the point. This was a wedding. And we didn’t question the placement. I had an “aha” moment. I’ve always been too straight-forward with my design. My set designs back in college were also always too… literal? I’m not sure when I got that grounded. I used to draw flying people like Chagall when I was a kid… Aha.
SO, I decided to try and break out of this a little and loosen up on this project. At which point the illustration started fighting with me. I wanted to do it in colored pencils, it wanted to be digital. We wrestled our way to a happy medium around an agreement on the concept. You may notice there are windows in the sky and stars on the background buildings? I’ve always been fascinated with city windows. Every time we drove over the 59th Street bridge at night, I would gawk as best as I could into the apartment windows at eye level, then look past them at the twinkling lights of Manhattan and think about all the people behind all those lights. The distance makes musing more poignant until it doesn’t matter if we’re looking at windows or at stars…
Next, I wanted to stay true to the concept of the story; that a group of people are trying to plan a trip to the moon. So my kids are out on the rooftop in various stages of planning or dreaming about how they’re going to get to the moon. Also, all the roof-top water towers of the city look like rocket ships. I’ve always thought so, anyway. Here’s where my Aha moment came in… I wanted to break the reality of my illustration and have the children’s plans and ideas floating above their heads to try and convey that this is what the illustration is really about. And I also wanted to make the plans LOOKÂ like plans. So I inversed the graphite and added a grid to the water towers on the left that looks like graph paper. Continuing with the inversed graphite for the children and foreground was an experiment, and I’m afraid I cleaned up the lines too much on the right-hand side. I like the idea of what I did here better than my execution, but as I said, I don’t consider this piece done.
All in all, it was a good exercise for me. But it’s not the portfolio piece thatÂ the challengeÂ suggested itÂ might turn out to be. But I did get to scan a slice of bread for the moon texture.
WHAT A FANTASTIC WEEKEND! I got to hang with some great people – I now have at least 30 new Facebook friends, enjoyed dinner with strangers who are strangers-no-more,Â Sharon Abra HanenÂ (who invited me to dinner by overhearing me say I didn’t yet have dinner plans), Sarah Ignatius, LinÂ Norman-Lyman, andÂ HeatherÂ Steffens. I was privileged to spend quality time with folks who have been inspiring me from afar for years includingÂ Jane Yolen and Tara LazarÂ (who are BOTH hilarious in person), andÂ Kelly Light and Heidi Stemple (whom I also know from social media and who are ALSO hilarious in person. I’m fairly sure Kelly and I crossed paths in college, and Heidi reminds me so strongly of my cousin that I’m quite positive we’re related), Jannie Ho (whom I “met” doing Illustration Friday 10+ years ago and finally got to meet in person!) Courtney Pippin MathurÂ (the only person I’d met “in person” prior to the conference because she lives near me!), Vita Lane and Jason Hart (for one of the most wildly coincidental lunches I’ve had in a while – Not often I run into someone who remembers seeing a play that I designed in college!) all my #KidlitArt friends (@emilywayneart @AutumnSeybert @reneekurilla @ClarElizabeth4 @ioanahobai @APSabourin @scillabert @juliaanneyoung @erniedelia @fultonbeal @matusic @sarahlynnereulÂ @ClaireLordon @IllustratorPG1 @PSWCreative @AJSmithillustr,Â joshfunkbooks) and Â Marlo Garnsworthy (I’m sorry Carlyn couldn’t make it but happy she introduced us!), Jennifer DesAutels, and Roya (so lovely to meet you!!).
I know I’m still leavingÂ many, many people out!
I got tons of inspiration and advice and some conflicting feedbackÂ about what I need to do next work-wise that I still need to parse… ButÂ now… back to my reality where I’ll be spending the next 8 months parsing this all out!
Ok so I’m a little late. The holidays snuck up on me as I was buried beneath work from a new client as well as the usual end-of-year to-do kinds of things, and of course, the care and feeding of the Jaegerlings (now aged 4.5 and 2.5). The ridiculously warm weather didn’t help. It only started to really feel like Christmas on its 12th day. Hanukkah is already a distant memory as Tu B’Shvat is at the end of January this year. Seriously?
Now that theÂ loose ends ofÂ 2015 have been mostly been tied up, I can get on with it being 2016.
Of course I have a few new resolutions for 2016.Â I was thinking about these as I was sorting out my kids’Â artwork the other day.Â I went through LITERALLYÂ hundreds of my 4-year-old’s drawings from Sept through now, thinking she’ll hit her 10,000 mastery hours LONG before I will at this rate. Picasso was seriously on to something. I realized I have much to learn from watching my daughterÂ progress Â while “wasting” tons of newsprint paper.
So I resolved that in order to really practice and progress, myself, I’ll have toÂ try and “Art”Â a bitÂ like a child again.Â Â That is to say:
Don’t be afraid to waste materials.
Don’t think too hard about it (the sketching will lead you where you want to go).
Don’t edit while you sketch.
Don’t overdo it. Stop when it’s done.
Make it sparkly (this is the kid version of “make it pop”).
Move on to the next.
The natural progression of this resolution is also that I need to stop worrying about the consistency of my media choices and if everything works in a series. I just to make more “stuff” the way I used to when I was a kid. Throw those ideas and creations out into the world and see where they lead.
On my way upstairs, I stopped to check in with Facebook (as you do) and caught some of the first 52 Week Challenge posts in my feed. By the time I’d got up to my studio, I was pulling out a bunch of “stuff” to “make something” for the “Fancy Dress” challenge, and this lady (above) emerged. Ok I went a little crazy with the glitter, which is also hard to photograph, but I felt better. I did it. Baby steps.
Another of my resolutions is to get more of that “stuff” out on social media and for sale without worrying too much if it’s “fitting my brand.” I think the definitionÂ of “personal brand” may actually be more or less the same thing as Giuseppe Castellano’ definition of personal style. It’s often hard to be objective about the way one actually looks. I have been told that my personal signature should shine through whatever I create as well. Looking at Fancy Dress Lady, I see that’s probably true.
Last year on Instagram I met a fellow artist and mom named Anna who lives in Sweden. Her children are roughly the same age as mine but she isÂ somehow managing to create complete pieces of dynamic art, illustrations, and intriguing Tangles daily, posting them out on the interwebs and in her etsy shop. I am in awe as well as inspired that she is able to doÂ this. I want to be able to do this, too. I know there are only so many hours in a day and that I sometimes have graphics work that takes priority to my personal work, but it’s a goal.
Like Anna, I don’t want to just wait around for people to hire me. I can get my work “out there” myself. My young self had hundreds of personal, creative obsessions. While I don’t fall in love with things as easily as I did when I was 9, I still have my own stories to tell and projects to complete. Another resolution is to get my own projects started (if not completed) without wondering if or how I’m going to earn money from them. I believe that if there is a true passion shining through in the work, an audience will come. We can’t all be J.K. Rowling, Johanna Basford, or Jacquie Lawson. But we can certainly try. So for starters,Â I put Fancy Dress Lady out on the interwebs and on Etsy for sale:Â http://tiny.cc/eppx7xÂ Â Ok that’s something.Â Not a large project, but another baby step. On to the next.
Last yearÂ I surprised myself by falling in love with the media and world of colored pencils. And here I’d thought I was supposed to be a painter. I discovered this love while working on my 100 Days projectÂ (which I also resolve to finish in 2016 – I need to continue working on simplifying). This year, I aimÂ to improve my colored penciling skills and techniques. I also plan toÂ work on improving gesture in my illustrations. I resolve toÂ pay a bit more attention to contrast (didn’t we call that chiaroscuro in art school?). AndÂ maybe get into a workshop or master class later in the year…
Of course, finding creative representation in 2016 wouldn’t hurt either!
Apart from my creative resolutions,Â I resolveÂ to manageÂ my not-so-spare time a bit better, de-clutter the house,Â spend more time with my family,Â lose about 10 pounds, and get back to the gym – you know, all the usual stuff.
Just signed up for an 11Â week yoga class starting next Tuesday.Â Let’s get this year started!
Sometimes when you’re tired, you do and say dumb things and then you *facepalm* and groan and hope you didn’t screw up too badly. I really need to get the littlest Jaegerling’s sleep schedule and my own to be better aligned (he’s two. what can I say?).
Anyway,Â Penguin childrens’ book art director and mentorÂ Giuseppe CastellanoÂ hosted aÂ #twitterclass where he gave some really great twitter critiques of every illustration submission he received between 9 and 10pm.Â I was tiredÂ and hadÂ found out about the “class” 5 minutes before it began soÂ I was more focused on quickly finding something recent and remotely critique-worthy to post thanÂ editing my tweet to say exactly what I meant.Â I wroteÂ “Still working towards style.” By “style” I really meant a flow, an ease of technique and process. I didn’t mean my own personal voice. It was a poor choice of word. *Facepalm.*Â Â Mr. Castellano referred me to his blog post on style (which I had already read) that’s pretty much about why he dislikes the word.
After I got over feeling stupid, I read the rest of the critiqueÂ tweet. Mr. Castellano also mentioned that my drawing looked too outlined and that the colored pencil wasn’t working well with the paper. True and true. I have been using cheaper materials, working on the theory that if I could make something nice with cheaper materials, I should be able to make something even better with GOOD materials. I also wanted to make sure I even wanted to continue with pencils and explore the feel of other brands before I invested a hundred or so dollars in a standard Prismacolor set.
I do have other materials in my cabinets, though. So I dug out some Bristol and unearthed a set of MitsubishiÂ colored pencils thatÂ someone (probably my artist aunt) had given me years ago, grabbed a sketchbook, and set to work on a pice for the SCBWI “Draw This” monthly challenge for October.
I only left myself 2 days to produce something so I challenged myself Project Runway style. Make something work. The challenge word is “Enchanted.” Go.
Because I’ve been focusing on my process (and not because this is a masterpiece by any stretch), I’m going to step through what I didÂ to create thisÂ piece. I welcome any professional advice on the media and myÂ process because I’m still learning by doing (and probably always will be).Â This pieceÂ reflects some of the skills I’ve been working on in my #100DaysOfSimple project. I’m working faster, a little looser, and with a little more line efficiency than I hadÂ been previously.
I don’t remember why but I had been looking at some Erte prints recently so I felt a little deco-inspired. Not sure why I picked Cinderella but that’s what came to mind. I deemed my third sketch satisfactory. The rest of my procedual notes are in the captions of the slideshow below.
Original messy pencil sketch.
Conceptually, I also wanted to give a nod to the “Upstairs/Downstairs” theme of Cinderella’s story. So the prince is above and Cinder is below running past the servant’s entrance.
“Inked” over the background in Adobe Flash to help keep it simple.
Light-table hand-inked the characters and composited them in Photoshop. I had wanted to keep the inks and color beneath them but printing back to Bristol didn’t keep the sharpness of the line. I was losing too much detail on Cinder. I later discovered that it was the scanner, not the printer where I was losing quality. Lesson learned.
So I gave up on keeping the inks and instead, printed them at 10% opacity on Bristol to color over them.
The finished, uncropped, version. No ink lines at all. Still learning. I think I still need to push lights and darks a little more and work on shadows. But all in all, not bad. I decided to call it “done” before I overworked it trying to “fix” things. Though in the age of digital, everything can be revisited.
\”What Is the 100-Day Project? Itâ€™s a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, itâ€™s not about fetishizing finished productsâ€”itâ€™s about the process.\”
But better late than neverÂ (the overall project ends inÂ two weeks),
Â \”Note: If you\’re just now finding us, you can still participate. You can choose to join in and catch up if possible or start at Day 1 and finish at your own pace.\”
It\’s totally an honor system challenge and I have the perfect challenge for myself.
I\’ve been thinking about my own work and how it compares to thatÂ of other illustrators whom I admire. I personally feel there is a sort of lack of polish inÂ my work, and often an overabundance of unnecessary detail. It may not be a failing but it is something I have identifiedÂ as something I\’d like to address in my illustration work to get it to the next level. The problem is that I\’m not sure exactly what it is that I need to fix. Lack of polish is a very loose description of a vague problem. On the other hand,Â it never hurts to work on streamlining Â and economy of line.
There\’s no such thing as a \”word count\” in illustration but the idea isÂ similar to trying to condense theÂ work from, say, 4 pages of prose to a haiku. The careful selection of wordsâ€”I meanÂ lines. The exact right shape of an eyeball, the fewest lines necessary to create aÂ contour. This is definitely no easy task for me. And since I don\’t make enough time for needed practice andÂ exercise…
My project for the next 100 days (whether it\’s executed effectively or not) is to work on drawing simple yet completeÂ illustrations. You can follow my progress on Instagram at the hashtag, #100DaysofSimple.
It would appear that I’ve fallen into a hole the past couple of months since the February drawing challenge. I kind of did. I’ve been busy with odds and ends and little things here and there, work projects, the end of school… And I called up my website just now to see my last image posted was a snowman. Hmmm that won’t do for the first day of summer!
So, here’s a a nice summer image. I’m calling it, “Gold From the Breakfast Tray.” If you’re at all familiar with my artwork, you’ll know I’m often inspired by music. The inspiration here is a lyric from the 10,000 Maniacs song, “Verdi Cries“. I’ve loved this song since I first heard it in the late 1980’s.
Natalie Merchant’s choice of wordsÂ feels so nostalgiac and other-timely. It’s not what I’d call a mood piece from the 1980’s. So I chose to set myÂ piece in 1910 at a Victorian-era rooming house by the sea. I’ve always listened to this song from the perspective of a carefree girl (who I picture much younger than a 20 year old Natalie) just doing as she pleases, not caring so much why the melancholy man in room 119 sat alone, listeningÂ to opera every day.
It also seems to have made a good bedtime song for my 4 year old daughter, who has been asking me to sing it to her every night for the last month (and yes, she posed for me.)
My own experiences, of course, influenced the piece’sÂ mood. I’ve spent various wanderingsÂ in my life and stays inÂ various places by various seas, enjoying morning light on the beach, sunny days running in the surf, and cool, late afternoon baths ending inÂ slightly sandy, sunburnt naps on crisp white linen. There were bright colors, bright days, cool porches and halls, and brilliant, restful nights of wild stars and storms far out at sea. “Holidays must end, as you know…”
My three girls are staying the summer at this rooming house. They’re equipped for their next grand adventure in the dunes, E. Nesbitt-style with nets, pails, buckets… The blonde girl can’t resist curiosity anymore. Every day she’s passed this breakfast tray returned toÂ the hall with a napkin-covered basket left un-touched. She’s finally stopped and lifted the napkin to discoverÂ the delicious pastries left untouched by the man in room 119. “Waste-not, want, not,” she decides and puts them into her picnic basket, pausing to sample one as the other girls call from the porch steps for her to hurry along.
Some technical details… I submitted my first pencil sketch for review on Facebook’sÂ “PBÂ IllustratorsÂ CritiqueÂ Group” Got some great feedback and did some updating, re-sketching, and noodling of layouts in Photoshop. I then printed out the blackline at 20% on watercolor paper and painted over it. I really did NOT intend to do so much of this piece in actual paint (oh heaven forfend! ha.). I did put the whole thing back into Photoshop and messed around with some clean-up and lighting (yes, you can tell). I’m generally pleased with the results, though I feel like I lost a bit of detail from the original sketches. This is probably a good thing because when I color on the computer, not matter how hard I try not to, I always zoom in too much and spend too much time noodling sharp detail in the backgorund. Anyway, I think I will continue to work with this technique. Thank you to Sylvia Liu and Tami Traylor for further critiques and advice.
This piece was created, predominantly, for Susanna Leonard Hill’s “2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest For Children’s Illustrators!!!” with the challenge prompt, “Discovery,” and secondarily for the SCBWI’s new monthly showcase (which is not a contest or competition so a few of us decided it would be ok to also submit to SCBWI) called, Draw This! with theÂ challenge prompt “Adventure.” (I believe they change the content of that link on the first of the month so it’s showing last month’s “Bounce” showcase for the next week or so).
I’m also making this illustration available to purchase as a print (contact me for the details). I’m aiming to have a “Prints” section of my Etsy shop on line by the beginning of July.
Now I just want a mojito… Cheers to the beginning of summer.