I probably shouldn't be blogging right at this moment about illustrations...considering that I'm behind in my deadline. It's hard to find a chunk of time to sit down and get a good portion of an illustration done. I have these little 15 or 20 minute slots of down time and it's not long enough to set up and paint. Oy. I have to say that I AM excited about the next book that is coming out this summer. It'll probably be in print this fall and my deadline for having the book illustrations done is July 1st. Eek.
I never actually thought that I'd be a children's book illustrator. It just kind of fell in my lap one day. A few years ago, I was trolling Craigslist and I came across an ad for an illustrator. Patrick Wynn was looking for an artist to illustrate his book Icky, Sticky Pancake World , a charming tale about 2 kids going on a dream adventure to a world made out of treats. On a whim, I answered the ad and after throwing together some sketches, Pat chose my work out of all his applicants. I had NEVER even touched a watercolor palette and after some thought, I decided to attempt to illustrate this book in watercolors. This book really was the beginning of my watercolor career. My first watercolor illustration was absolutely hysterical. I had no control over the colors, there was no color mixing....basically, I had no CLUE what I was doing.
After many attempts and a good bit of frustration, I finally started to understand the medium. It took about a year to get all of the illustrations done on this book and I do think that they came out cute, but they aren't even painted on decent watercolor paper! lol....looking back, it's amazing how much my style has changed.
Unfortunately, this book isn't in print yet. I hope to see it in print someday b/c I think it would do really well.
Well, through Patrick's influence, I decided to joint the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and I am SO glad that I did. It was through SCWBI that Judy Snider found me and contracted me to illustrate her adorable book, I Love You, Be Careful. Wow, what an experience! In three months, I had to complete a LOT of illustrations with accent illustrations, design and put together a cover, paint floral borders, etc....it was quite a job but it was well worth the effort that it took. Judy was amazing to work with and I can't even begin to say how thankful I am to have met and worked with her and her sister.
Now, I am illustrating...yes, the book that I'm behind on, The Gift by Bridget Knouse (who, for the record, has been VERY patient with me) It's a lovely story about adoption and how adopted children are literally a gift from God. As difficult as it has been to get this book done this year, I AM looking forward to seeing it in print.
I just wanted to compare how much my illustrating style has shifted over the last three years. Check it out.
This is from Icky, Sticky Pancake World...wow, my portrait style has dramatically changed. Plus, none of my colors are mixed, but I think it works out alright b/c children tend to like bright colors....Notice how I have no concept of darkest darks or mid-tones...it's all or nothing in the color scheme.
This is from I Love You, Be Careful. Notice how many more washes are used in this illustration. There's a lot more depth, more color mixing and more expression on the character's faces. I'm not saying that I've "arrived" as an illustrator....not by far....BUT there's some improvement.
This is one of my current illustrations from The Gift. I still sometimes struggle with illustrating small features on faces, but I think that my angle of approach has improved. In this illustration, you can see my darkest darks, mid-tones and lightest lights. The author wanted the bedtime story reading illustration to include their dog, which was a little tricky, but I finally found a position that I was comfortable with. For this book, I actually went to the author's house and photographed the family in various poses and situations b/c I wanted to capture the essence of what made this family so special.
Having had no training in illustrating, I admit that I'm kind of finding my own way, but where there's a will, there's a way, right? I do have moments of deep frustration, but I've also been blessed with moments of surprise when things have worked out.
I do want to encourage my readers....if I have any...lol....to feel free to call me or email me if you need help with art or illustrating. I would be MORE than happy to lend a hand or give some encouragement or advice to a fellow artist. Being self-taught has it's own struggles, but I know from experience that forging my own way has given me great confidence in the ability that we all inherently have to teach ourselves and succeed.
Was I scared when I first picked up my pencil to illustrate a book? Absolutely....petrified. I'd never done it before and I didn't know if I could.....don't let that stop you. You can do it!
"People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to." George E. Allen