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.

My Scout Cards for all Occasions

Springtime is coming, when a lot of scout activities and events start up, so I’d like to just remind everyone that I have drawn cards to fit many scout occasions. And with the good works they do in our community and the values that scouting teaches our young men, Scouts are an organization to be celebrated.

February is often the Crossing Over ceremony for Cubs to Boy Scouts. For this card I used my a whimsical style to draw a friendly adult eagle, in scout troop leader uniform, waving 3 happy little eagles across a footbridge in the great outdoors, with an appropriately encouraging message inside. Info for purchasing this card is HERE.

I drew these cheery scouts, below, alongside the goals of the Scout Law – to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent – to create a notecard that can be used for any occasion. This could be given to celebrate a rank advancement or merit badge, offer words of encouragement or to thank a mentor, scoutmaster or fellow scout. These invitation-size cards make a great gift for a Scout leader too. They are blank inside and come in a box of 8 notecards and envelopes – ordering info is HERE.

My son is an Eagle Scout and he had such a great experience with the Boy Scouts – learning great practical skills and making good friends, while reinforcing the responsibility and morals that we tried to instill as he grew up. I drew the whimsical Eagle Salute Congratulations card below for a friend of my son’s who achieved the rank a few years before him. When my son made Eagle and had his Court of Honor alongside his best friend, I painted the Eagle Scout on a hilltop scene. To see the inside message and ordering info for them, see my Etsy shop HERE and HERE.

And for special mentors in a Scout’s journey, several customers have asked me to produce smaller thank-you notecards for Eagles themselves to send, and I now list them in my Etsy shop too. My Eagle thank-you notecards come 20 to a pack and have my “Eagle Scout on a Hilltop” illustration on the front. To see my Etsy shop for further ordering details, click HERE.

Little House on the Main Line

I was commissioned to paint a bridal shower gift recently – a portrait of the little brick home that the happy couple will soon be settling down in. It’s located in one of the charming towns on Philadel-phia’s Main Line, the string of villages that grew up around the Philadelphia Railroad line from the center of the city out to its western suburbs in the 19th century.

My client gave me several photos of the house that were very helpful, and also photos of the couple, since we wanted to depict the newlyweds sitting on their porch.

I started with a basic pencil sketch of the house from the front with the couple on their front porch together.

I drew a tighter but simple sketch of the couple, and then we thought to add their dog into the scene, so my client sent me cute pooch photos.

I tightened up the whole drawing to show to my client before I started painting, and with her approval I transferred the drawing to illustration board and began adding color.

The finished painting is below – it looked great in the frame my client picked, and the bride-to-be was thrilled with her very personalized gift!

My Fiddling Mouse and PEI Farm on Etsy

I’ve added a few more cheery notecards to Etsy, both hand-illustrated items that you won’t find anywhere but in my Etsy store.

The card below is my dancing and fiddle-playing mouse, part of a series of music-themed illustrations I’ve drawn. The notecards are printed on sturdy glossy card stock and come 8 to a box, with 8 envelopes. If you’d like some to send or give to a musical friend, ordering info is here.

My second card is a watercolor I painted years back, after visiting our friends who owned a lovely farm in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the place where the classic children’s story Anne of Green Gables was set. The red roads and lush countryside of PEI is as real now as when Lucy Montgomery wrote the story in the early 1900s. My original artwork is in full color. This pack of 8 cards and envelopes has cardstock that is made from partially recycled paper and the cards are printed in the USA. Ordering info is here.

Thanks for checking out my original notecards, and while your on Etsy take a look at my other cards for business owners, Scouting and more!

Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta Prints

I first saw a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta on television in the 1980s, when the wonderful Clive Revill played Koko in a BBC production of The Mikado. I was floored over how ingenious the patter song lyrics were, and how truly funny the humor was for something written a hundred years earlier. And the music itself was utterly sumptuous! I listened to as many G&S records as I could find in our local library – but since this was in pre-internet days, that’s about as far as my Savoy education went.

About 12 years ago my husband (who had been in HMS Pinafore years back) and I heard a Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society was forming right here in our town, so we checked it out right away. Since then we’ve been involved in and entertained by many of these delightful musicals; and it is apparent many others in our area appreciate the madcap plots, colorful characters and buoyant music of these operettas too.

For the Bucks G&S Society I’ve created 8 illustrations so far of their productions, and now by request of a G&S fan I’ve made 8″ x 10″ color prints of each. These full color prints are on heavy, partially-recycled paper and printed in the USA. The prints are $8.00 each and may be ordered by emailing me on my Contact page for info on shipping and payment method. A discount price of $55.00 is available for a complete set of 8 prints.

If any G&S groups would like to lease my copyrighted images for their posters and promotional items, please send me a message on my Contact page for leasing information. The 8 images are shown on my new G&S page – click HERE – and all artworks are (c) Pat Achilles.

Watercolor pencil sketch

There are colored pencils made by Derwent that are soluble in water, so you can draw with them then paint with a wet brush to turn your scribbles more into color washes. I used them for this little sketch of our neighborhood park, years ago when there were a number of lovely pink dogwoods blooming in the spring.

My ‘Pirates of Penzance’ Poster Illustration

The Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society is once again gearing up for one of the Victorian playwrights’ funniest, most lyrical and most popular creations, The Pirates of Penzance. I’m happy to again be illustrating the poster for this wonderfully fun musical. If you have ever heard the brilliant patter song I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General, this is the rambunctious show for which that song was written.

I started with a very rough pencil sketch of a group of the colorful characters – maidens, pirates, bobbies, the Major-General – in a classic triangle composition.

I defined the characters a bit more in the next sketch.

I scanned this sketch and did a rough colored pencil blocking in of the colors

I traced this drawing onto illustration board, outlined the characters and began to paint it in using acrylic washes.

And now the finished piece is dropped into the poster design, below. I hope you consider coming, this will be a terrific musical comedy!

Illustrations for a Montessori School

I am quite impressed with the variety of activities a new Montessori school offers its little students – Maria’s House, a traditional Montessori, opened in the fall in my hometown area. They asked me to draw a range of experiences that will be available in their summer session, from fencing to equestrian pursuits.

The summer session is a ‘bridge’ for the students between the end of this school year and the start of the next, so it is titled Ponte Montessori.

I am told that the art will be used in the advertisement below, and published in our local papers as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bucks County Magazine and the New York Times. Included is another drawing I made of the lovely main house of the school.

A House in Ireland

My husband and I made a memorable visit to Ireland last August – we traveled around that beautiful country from Dublin to Kilkenny, Killarney and Galway, ending in County Roscommon, where my mother was born and lived until she came to the US as a child.

There, by the generosity and hospitality of some newly-met Irish friends, we were able to visit the place where my mother lived with her parents and four siblings. In the 1920s it was probably more a cottage than a house, but it has been lovingly cared for and renovated by a new family, and they were quite kind to us when we visited completely on the fly. I painted this watercolor of the home and sent it to our friends for a Christmas gift, and I just heard from them that it finally made it around the world (my tracking slip said it went first to NYC then to Japan, and from there to Europe). So now that the surprise is over, I’ll post it!

Brownstone Illustration for a Children’s Book

Another Brooklyn scene in Chrysa Smith’s book The Upside-Down Gardener shows our main character Dory and her Mom, with some neighbors looking on as the little girl tosses her baseball on their way home. First the pencil sketch –

upsidedown_brownstone_sk1

and then the finished art, painted in acrylic paint washes –

upsidedown_brownstone_small

I’ll post more as we progress.