A recent commission of mine was to make illustrations for a novel written by a middle school student. The student has ADHD and is also a gifted and eager writer. He writes insightfully about fitting in with middle school culture.
After reading some chapters and poems that comprise the book I decided to create a sketch for one poem that is set under a tree – its theme seemed to encompass the message of the book. I thought it could be used inside the book as a page illustration with the poem, and perhaps could be used for the cover as well.
I designed my rough pencil sketch looking down from above the main character under the tree, so it would work on a page and also with the title if needed. I hand-lettered the title with ink and brush.
The family of the author liked the image and wanted it for the cover, but thought some extra middle schoolers should be added. I drew a circle of friends separately –
and dropped them into the tree scene.
Then I colored the art digitally and reversed out the text – the finished book cover is below.
A children’s book that I had a part in has been selected by Doylestown Bookshop to be part of their “Local Author Partnership Program”. It will be featured in the bookstore during the month of March, and I’d like to explain its unusual journey to publication.
I helped with this unique type of book project this past summer and fall. Professional storyteller Ray Gray asked me if I could help coordinate a children’s book idea that he had – to take one story out of his storytelling repertoire, have a group of children from his neighborhood illustrate the story, and put it all together into published book form.
It was delightful getting to know Ray, whose career in storytelling at schools, festivals, and performance venues reaches back to pre-digital technology days, when he had to haul props and his own audio and visual equipment that was rather ahead of its time. To prepare, he transcribed his children’s story “Ice Cream Mud” into a manuscript and I laid it out in book dummy form. His local neighborhood has many families with schoolchildren, and their parents were supportive of involving their kids in this project.
The parents and 8 or 10 children, ages approximately 7 to 13, were invited to Ray & his wife Nancy’s lovely home one evening to kick off the project. Ray told his story Ice Cream Mud, which was based on experiences with his son when he was young, with great emotion and humor to the children. Then I led them through questions about the main characters and how we might all draw the horse, donkey, goose and cow. The kids had fun choosing one identifying item of clothing for each animal – a top hat, an apron, etc. to make the characters unique and appealing. We gave each child drawing supplies and pages of the story, so each one had several scenes to illustrate. Since summer had just begun, we instructed the children to draw their pages through their summer vacation and we would gather together again in the fall to put everything together.
When all the artwork was completed I scanned the pieces and put the book together for printing through an online publisher. The final book is colorful and a delightful read, and is truly a community effort! I hope it inspires more stories and more drawings from these neighborhood kids as they grow, and from other children as they read this and imagine what they can create in story and pictures.
Again I’ll mention that Ice Cream Mud has been selected by Doylestown Bookshop to be part of their “Local Author Partnership Program”. It will be featured in the bookstore during the month of March. Make sure you stop in to see this positive one-of-a-kind creation!
The 2nd annual Bucks County Book Fest will take place in lovely Doylestown, the county seat, this Saturday and Sunday Oct. 12 and 13, and I’m happy to say my artwork will be seen in a few publications there.
The Bucks County Writers Workshop‘s inaugural issue of its historical and literary magazine Neshaminy will be sold at the open-air book market on Sunday from noon to 4 pm. It features short stories and poems that revolve around our area’s rich history and famous residents, including pieces about Dorothy Parker, Oscar Hammerstein, Pearl S. Buck and a never-before-published interview with James Michener. I was happy to be commissioned by the BCWW to illustrate the articles about Michener and Parker, and contribute a frontispiece illustration of the Neshaminy Creek, with a subtle reference to the Lenape tribes that lived by its banks.
You can see my pieces below – click to enlarge.
Some of my illustrations for children’s books will also be at the Book Fest, courtesy of author Chrysa Smith, for whom I have illustrated The Upside-Down Gardener, Once Upon a Poodle, and a series of children’s books called The Adventures of the Poodle Posse. Chrysa will also be at the open-air book market Sunday, and I’m sure she’d love book lovers to stop by and to buy local [books]!
A few of my illustrations for Chrysa are below – click to enlarge.
I’ll be around the market too! I’m not sure what I’ll be hawking yet, but probably some of my Christmas cards (you can see some here) and my notecards for birthdays or any occasion when you are giving a book as a gift –
Hope to see you at the Book Fest! There are many other events both Saturday and Sunday – a Lit Crawl, readings for children, a writer’s workshop and an illustrator’s workshop – check out all the events at their site here.
I’m happy to announce that Chrysa Smith’s new children’s book, with illustrations by yours truly, will be introduced at a book launch at Lahaska Book Shop in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, PA, on Wednesday, December 5, starting at 7:00 PM.
Chrysa describes her story this way: ‘Determined city girl Dory Oslo unwillingly agrees when her mom tells her she should plant a garden. How could something grow in their city plot with only a piece of sun shining above the buildings? Her determination to wake up those plants is strong and what follows is nothing short of a miracle. Only something highly unusual is happening, or is it? This story uses gardening as a tie-in to discussions about not giving up, trying something new, being a strong-minded girl and of course, the beauty of nature itself.’
The public in invited to join us at the launch and enjoy some light refreshments. Chrysa has asked me to talk and show a bit about how I planned and created sketches and finished art for the book, and we will both be there to sign purchased copies. Please join us – you can get a lovely book perfect for 2nd to 4th graders, or for reading out loud to younger children, and then get a jump on other holiday shopping by strolling though lovely Peddler’s Village!
Another sneak peek into the book: it takes place in Brooklyn, and there is definitely some fantasy going on – as you can see from the flowers starting to bloom right in the NYC subway!
For directions to Peddlers Village, click HERE . The Lahaska Book Shop is near the corner of Old York Rd. and Carousel Lane, which you can see on the map HERE – there is a parking lot just outside the shop, with other larger lots around Peddler’s Village. Other holiday events at Peddlers Village are HERE .
My friend. author Chrysa Smith, has penned a new book for children, with illustrations by me. Titled The Upside-Down Gardener, it takes us through a little girl’s first attempt at growing a garden in her Brooklyn, NY, backyard.
I started with a rough pencil sketch of the lead character Dory looking upside down at some of her flowers –
And then after checking some photo reference I refined it to a more anatomically correct stance –
We want the urban setting to be apparent, so I widened the view to show the backs of the rear buildings a bit –
– and tomorrow I’ll post the full color finished art.
I recently went through my Big File of Past Illustrations and came across some fun ones from before I had a blog, so herewith:
I drew this a number of years ago for the cover of a book about finding your mate online when you’re over 50. It’s drawn in black prisma pencil with some watercolor and pastel. I think the author is still in the business of matching people up!