“The Upside-Down Gardener” Book Premiering December 5

upsidedown_gardener_frontonlyI’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.’

udgdetail_1The 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!

upside_down_gardener_detail1Another 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 Cover Art for ‘The Upside-Down Gardener’

As promised in yesterday’s post of pencil sketches for this new children’s book, here is the full color cover art –

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I will post more sketches and info on the book as it nears completion!

 

My cover art for a new children’s book

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 –

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And then after checking some photo reference I refined it to a more anatomically correct stance –

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We want the urban setting to be apparent, so I widened the view to show the backs of the rear buildings a bit –

 

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– and tomorrow I’ll post the full color finished art.

Online Dating Illustration

I recently went through my Big File of Past Illustrations and came across some fun ones from before I had a blog, so herewith:

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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!

My Gilbert & Sullivan Artwork

I’ve just completed designing the show program for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s June production, Trial by Jury and More! This production is a melange of two comic operettas and some magnificent overtures and solos from Gilbert & Sullivan.

I’ve been pleased to paint the poster illustrations for a number of these G&S shows, which I then use on the program cover as well. It’s a pleasure to get to know the witty and comical characters in these operettas – and they are truly operettas, with some dialog but a lot of gloriously operatic sung music. I really recommend these shows for anyone who loves classical music and good theatrical humor.

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My illustration for Trial by Jury and More includes the characters Mr. Cox, a hatter, and Mr. Box, a printer, who unwittingly occupy the same rented flat because one works all day and the other all night; they meet unexpectedly and both are furious with their landlord for double-dipping on the rent – until they discover they are, or were, also engaged to the same lady and neither wants to fulfill that contractual obligation! Also depicted in this cover are characters from Trial by Jury: Angelina, the tragicomically jilted bride, and the Judge, who is instantly smitten with her. Together these 1-act shows make up the operatic musical comedy Trial by Jury and More!  and it is set to open in two weeks, on Friday June 16 here in Doylestown – all info is on the website here.

With my art for HMS Pinafore I shoehorned the main characters into a tiny rowboat for comic effect: the gallant sailor Ralph Rackstraw kissing lovely Josephine and Captain Corcoran carrying his sunny Buttercup, with ornery Dick Deadeye paddling them through the waves and Sir Joseph admonishing them all to be quite polite. My husband played Sir Joseph in this show locally, and friends may see the resemblance in my rendering of him.

For Princess Ida I stood our stalwart princess front and center, and in the background her bastion for women, Castle Adamant. If you look closely you can see the brave fellows clumsily scaling the castle battlements – Hilarion, Cyril and Florian – who engage the theme of this battle-of-the-sexes play. For some elements of Castle Adamant I was inspired by the design of Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine, and you may notice I incorporated male-female symbols into the castle windows.

For the Patience illustration I painted sweet, sensible milkmaid Patience listening skeptically to the florid words of poet Bunthorne. (I enjoy that G&S often chose hilariously Dickensian character names.) Meanwhile the lovesick maidens of the village cling and swoon on Bunthorne, with even Lady Jane and her cello getting drawn into the undertow. There’s a lovely small magnolia tree in my neighborhood that I used for reference in the Patience art.

In all these illustrations I painted with acrylic paint on illustration board. If you’d like to see my sketches leading up to these paintings, I wrote about my process – Trial by Jury here, Pinafore here, Princess Ida here and Patience here. Leasing of my artwork for other productions is available, and inquiries can be made through my Contact page.

 

The Basics of Book Creating

makingofabook_detailMy friend, author Chrysa Smith, has written up a great basic guide for anyone considering writing and publishing a book.  Chrysa has written for many years for magazines and blogs, and of late she has become a popular children’s book author, making regular school visits all over the Northeast to discuss her stories and conduct writing workshops for young writers. She has a lot of excellent experience.

Chrysa asked me to draw up a cover illustration for this ebook, The Making of a Book: What to Know, What to Do – available now for an incredibly low cost at Amazon – and she had an image in her head for the art. She suggested a person typing on a typewriter – how old-school! – with various accoutrements of the writer in view as well.

1chrysamakingofabook_sk1detailI pictured the image as looking down from above on the writer – I didn’t want to show a face, because that makes it a bit too specific. It’s been a long time since I used a typewriter, so I had to look up some images on google to make sure I got the details right!  I then thought about other hallmarks of the writing process – motivation (cup of tea), critique (red pencil markups), and frustration (crumpled paper), and added them into the pencil sketch.

1chrysamakingofabook_sk2Chrysa made a few suggestions, and I sent her a rough color sketch, with her title text inserted, and she approved that for final art.

I drew the finished art in one of my standard techniques, using black prisma pencil for the outline, on illustration board, and then painted in washes with thinned acrylic paints. I made the cover into a high-res jpeg and Chrysa inserted it into her ebook file, then uploaded it to Amazon.

As an illustrator I’ve spoken to many people who have ideas for books, with topics ranging from trends in their industry to creative stories for children or adults, and I’ll now be happy to recommend The Making of a Book to them.  Chrysa concisely explains traditional publishing, the exploding self-publishing market, ebooks and the all-important marketing phase of book 1makingofabook_coverart_lowrespublishing.  And she gives clear, real-life tips for authors that will prevent problems they could encounter further down the process, saving them time and resources. Her website, if you’d like to read more about her books and events, is here.

 

 

Newly Published Children’s Book ‘Once upon a Poodle’

onceuponapoodle_coverblueI am very pleased to announce that my friend, award-winning author Chrysa Smith, has just released her first full-color picture book entitled Once upon a Poodle, with illustrations by me.

Chrysa’s easy reader series, The Adventures of the Poodle Posse (which I also illustrated) was given a Mom’s Choice Award, a Dove Foundation endorsement, and a top pick on Amazon’s Children’s Bookshelf.

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With Once upon a Poodle Chrysa takes us back to the first poodle in that family.  When Woody (a main poodle in the posse series) goes on a hunt for a new brother, all sorts of adventures are in store. His attempts to find a suitable creature to join the family only bring chaos into the house. Feathers fly, gardens are harvested, and nuts are cracked in tale that embraces fun, problem-solving, and learning what family is all about. I had a lot of fun bringing Chrysa’s story to life in illustrations!ouap_wp5
According to one reviewer, this is a great tale for parents who are bringing a new sibling into the home. It is suggested as a read-aloud for young children, a bedtime storybook, a great lead into the posse series and a story for dog-lovers of all ages.
To purchase a copy of Once upon a Poodle you can see my Store page, or the author’s site http://www.wellbredbook.net.

ouap_wp3You can find out more about the book and Smith’s school presentations by contacting her directly at chrysa@wellbredbook.net – she’s a lifelong feature writer, pet-lover and children’s book author. ouap_wp2Chrysa’s journey as a children’s book author is also featured in the fall issue of Bucks County Magazine – you can see the article online at http://www.buckscountymag.com/launching-a-poodle-posse/