Blaine’s Podcast

I was on Blaine Greenfield’s podcast last night – a delight all around, he’s the Ed Sullivan of the Asheville, NC area!

I fumbled a bit getting my artwork to screenshare, so I’m posting a pdf of some of my New Yorker published-and-rejected cartoons below, so you all can take the full tour I was going to give Blaine. Please scroll through!

(If they appear too small to read, try clicking on the three horizontal lines at top left. All artwork is (c) Pat Achilles, but the first four are (c) The New Yorker.)

Now below is the slideshow I was going to show Blaine of my children’s book illustration, and some illustrations for adult books too. Included are illustrations from The Upside-Down Gardener, Grand Slam Birthday and the Adventures of the Poodle Posse series by Chrysa Smith; Robbie to the Rescue by Laurie Nowlan; Let’s Visit New Hope, by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler; The Book of Jims and Bills! Bills! Bills! by Jim Miller (they are fun books all about famous people thru history named Jim/James or William/Bill, fun to give as a gift to friends of those names), Leading Team Members with Super Powers by Thomas Edwards (a great informational book about working and training neurodiverse employees), and A Woman’s Book of Dirty Words by Mary Fran Bontempo. If you want to purchase any, I believe they are all available on Amazon. (All artwork is (c) Pat Achilles)

This slideshow below shows some of my greeting cards for Eagle Scout events and for the holidays – some are available now on my Etsy shop (click HERE) and some I hope to post there soon. (All artwork is (c) Pat Achilles)

Below are some of the cards I’ve drawn, which Blaine enjoys so much, for Kohlhepp Investment Advisors. (All artwork is (c) Pat Achilles)

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And finally here are my illustrations for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society, a wonderful group of devotees to some of the loveliest, and funniest, operettas ever written. (All artwork is (c) Pat Achilles)

Now you have seen all the things I meant to show Blaine – thanks so much for taking a look. Here’s the link to the half hour of me with Blaine: go to https://www.blainesworld.net/ and look for the podcast dated 11.8.2022 And thanks again to Blaine!

–Pat

Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’ – Porcine Version

I have once again dreamed up a humorous setting for the Lenape Chamber Ensemble‘s Children’s Concert, which is coming up Saturday, November 12 at Delaware Valley University. The Lenape Chamber Ensemble is a group of world-class musicians who twice a year host a delightful hour of playful information and performance for kids and their parents, on the weekend when they also perform magnificent concerts for adults at other times and venues. Their talent is sublime, but for their children’s concert I am permitted to draw a light-hearted fantasy of a scene for a poster, just for entertainment’s sake. For this one, I chose pigs as my musicians.

The concert November 12th features the most popular of Vivaldi’s works, The Four Seasons, as well as works by J. S. Bach and Jean-Marie Leclair. I felt a dance ensemble might be fun to accompany my little pigs’ musical performance, so I drew an audience of piglets admiring the dancers representing the seasons, while their accompanists play behind them.

I first sketched pigs in different music & dance positions –

  • and then placed them within the space I have on the flyer, hand-lettering the info above and below them. The final poster is below – I also looked up the names the the seasonal movements of the Vivaldi. I’m hoping some enterprising children might learn a little French in the bargain! I highly recommend this concert for kids & parents alike, it’s really a delightful hour of music and fun!

My Illustrations for the Children’s Book “A Grand Slam Birthday”

Now that the Phillies are in the World Series, it’s definitely time to write about a new kids’ book by my friend, author Chrysa Smith, and illustrated by me – A Grand Slam Birthday. Chrysa brings back the lead character from her book The Upside-Down Gardener, Dory Oslo, for a delightful story that makes a perfect birthday party gift for youngsters – or a holiday gift, since that season is coming up too!

Chrysa describes the plot like this: When Dory Oslo arrives at her cousin’s birthday party, nobody looks like they’re having too much fun. In fact, the kids are lined up against the wall. But Dory turns up the excitement once again as her cousin opens her gift and finds something that turns the party inside-out and into something quite unexpected—and FUN! Dory, her cousin Izzy, and their friends learn a thing or two about having fun, trying new things, and having confidence in yourself.

In illustrating Grand Slam Birthday I started with pencil sketching the whole book as usual, for example these double-page spreads :

Once Chrysa suggested adjustments to the sketches, I transferred the revised drawings to illustration board and started drawing and painting finished artwork with acrylic paint washes. Because of the birthday party theme and the surprise gift involved, it made for some colorful pages:

As you may have guessed, an impromptu baseball game figures into this story – Dory after all is a tomboy! It’s a fun story that also helps kids think differently about trying something they may think they’re “not good at.”

You can order A Grand Slam Birthday online from Chrysa HERE – and if your child’s school would like to have Chrysa do an author visit (in person or through zoom), she has some great programs that help teach and inspire the kids to write on their own. Send Chrysa a message to inquire about how she can spark the imagination in your students! You can also meet her in person, selling this and her other books, at the Warminster Kris Kringle Holiday Market this coming Saturday, Nov 5 from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM, at 300 Veterans Way, Warminster, PA.

Illustration for Liebovar, a Children’s Opera

I have worked with composer and librettist Misha Dutka before, illustrating the poster for his children’s opera The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. Recently Boheme Opera NJ performed a beautiful concert version of Misha’s full length opera Liebovar, or The Little Blind Girl, at the 1867 Sanctuary in New Jersey. Liebovar‘s plot has an opera-within-an-opera, and now Delaware Valley Opera Company plans to mount the short children’s opera that is within the larger story of Liebovar, in the fall. Misha asked me to do an illustration to advertise this performance.

Misha explained that the children’s opera involves the same young girl I depicted in the art for the full length work, a blind girl in a WWII concentration camp –

– but in this fairy-tale-type opera she is a poor peasant girl wandering through the woods, and befriended by various animals – a squirrel, a turtle, a fawn and a duckling. As soon as he described this I sketched a rough idea quickly, which he then approved:

I tightened up the pencil drawing –

and did a colored pencil color sketch first –

and then the final painting, in acrylic washes over prisma pencil, on illustration board. Below is the poster with text added for the event.

Hedgehogs with Violins

If you see hedgehogs playing violins and flutes, can spring be far behind?

Below is my drawing for the Lenape Chamber Ensemble’s upcoming Concert for Children in March. Lenape Chamber Ensemble brings together word-class musicians for local classical concerts and the instrumentalists also find time to do a one-hour concert for kids in between their professional performances – they talk to the kids about composers, play snippets of the longer pieces, and generally create an entertaining hour of the fun side of classical music. It’s completely informal – kids spontaneously dancing along to the music is encouraged – and children can chat with the musicians and see the instruments up close.

Highly recommended for an afternoon out with the kids or grandkids, to welcome spring!

Beanies and Knee Socks

I drew some vignettes of Catholic school life when my kids were in school, and I post them today to celebrate Catholic Schools Week. I went through Catholic school in the 1960s and 70s, and some of my teachers were still there when my children attended! I deeply appreciate my Catholic school upbringing, where we were always encouraged to excel academically and discern the spark of sacredness in every human being.

I send my special thanks to Nativity of Our Lord School, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School and Archbishop Wood High School for the wonderful, dedicated teachers, staff and clergy who surround our children with the beliefs and morals they need to create a good society.

My Scout Card for ‘Crossing Over’ from Cub to Scout

I have added to my line of Boy Scout congratulations cards – the two I have drawn for Eagle Scouts are quite popular sellers on my Etsy page – by drawing a whimsical illustration for young cub scouts who are making their ‘Crossing Over Ceremony’ from Cub Scouts into full Boy Scouts. I’ll add, the card is inspired by my two grandsons, who made their Crossing Over into Scouts. I’m very proud of them and their friends, who have completed their work as a Cub and want to further their knowledge and experience in BSA.

In my whimsical drawing style, I drew a friendly adult Eagle, in scout troop leader uniform, waving 3 happy little eagles across a footbridge in the great outdoors. This mirrors the Crossing Over Ceremony that young scouts go through when they ‘cross over the bridge’ from Cubs to Boy Scouts.

I first pencilled in a sketch of the scene –

I tightened up the drawing, scanned it & colored a printout roughly to work out the colors –

– and then transferred the drawing to illustration board, outlined in ink and painted it in with acrylic washes.

To see the finished card, inside message, and all other info and for purchasing, please see my Etsy shop HERE.

A fan of my cards who is a troop leader reviewed them this way: “These cards are exceptionally unique and well drawn. The messages are well thought out and brief, a good thing. I always add a personal message to the card as well, and there is room to do that. These are beautiful cards and an inspiration to the scouts receiving them.”

Illustrating “Robbie to the Rescue!” Part 3

(To read Part 1 and 2 of this process click HERE and HERE.)

After I did rough color sketches for Laurie Nowlan’s entire book, I started transferring the drawings to illustration board and painting. I use prismacolor pencils to outline my characters and acrylic paint, thinned with water to the level of a wash, to paint the colors. You can get nice vibrant hues using acrylics, which brightened up the autumn pages at the beginning of the book.

This story follows two brother robins as they go on a southern migration to Florida, the twists and turns they encounter along the way, and how they help each other as siblings. They encounter a nasty storm, which knocks the younger brother, Robbie, for a loop.

The older brother, Ben, has trouble with one of his wings, and suddenly little Robbie is the sibling that has to look out for his older brother.

Robbie steels himself and finds the strength to get both himself and his brother out of danger.

And to see the sunny conclusion of the story, you’ll have to get the book!

Since the cover art is so critical to the appeal of a children’s book, the author and I went through several sketches of the cover illustration before we settled on the right scene and feel for it. We wanted Robbie alone on the cover, but did not want to give away too much of the climax of the story.

I envisioned Robbie swooping through the stormclouds with a determined, serious expression; and after discussion with Laurie we tried a more cheerful look and we both liked it better.

I did a color sketch and added some lightning to create a little more excitement –

and then painted the finished art.

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“Robbie to the Rescue!” is available now through BookBaby HERE.

Illustrating “Robbie to the Rescue!” Part 2

To read Part 1 of this process click HERE.

Once I had drawn all the pages of Laurie Nowlan’s Robbie to the Rescue! as pencil sketches, I scanned all the drawings and colored them in roughly so both the author and I could see the placement of color throughout the book.

Early on when Laurie and I discussed her main characters, we had decided there should be some little bits of clothing to humanize Robbie and his older brother Ben. Laurie liked having Ben wear a baseball cap, and perhaps big sneakers for Robbie, to make him look smaller and younger and maybe a little clumsier than his older brother. In initial sketches I had given them orange and red jackets, thinking they’d stand out in green foliage – then when I started doing pages I realized it was autumn in the story and the leaves would be those colors. So I switched their jackets to blue and green.

The story has a number of scenes that take place during a rainstorm so I tried to vary the spreads between pages that bled off the sides and vignettes where there was white space around the illustrations, as well as full double page spreads where it was warranted, to keep the scenes from looking too similar.

Laurie suggested that the storm scenes should stay very blue and gray, so that at the end of the story when there are beach scenes, the change to sunny warmth would really be apparent to the reader. I agree it worked really well.

After this stage I started painting finished art for the book. I’ll write more about that, and about developing the cover art, in Part 3.

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“Robbie to the Rescue!” is available now through BookBaby HERE.

Illustrating “Robbie to the Rescue!” Part 1

I recently completed illustrating a new children’s picture book, written by Laurie Nowlan, Robbie to the Rescue! It’s a lovely story about brother robins and how they help each other through the younger brother’s first southern migration. I think it’s a very good sibling story, with lots of touches that happen between real brothers and sisters, so many children will relate to it.

I first spoke at length with the author about how she imagined the characters and the flow of the story. Laurie is a retired teacher and has been writing for a long time so she had already given this much thought. I di some black and white and color sketches of the brother birds and more or less used them as my prototypes when developing the page art – although you’ll see some colors changed.

With the author’s suggestions I laid out the text and drew pencil sketches for each double page spread. I drew a very loose pagination, which just helps me visualize a variety of page setups before I design, like this –

Then I drew pencils of each spread like these samples.

I’ll explain the next steps in the process in my next post.

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“Robbie to the Rescue!” is available now through BookBaby HERE.