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.

Children’s Classical Concert Returns!

I’m very happy to say that the Lenape Chamber Ensemble, a group of world-class musicians who perform several times a year for chamber music lovers in our area of Bucks County, will return to a live in-person concert for children on November 13 at Delaware Valley University. The Ensemble has been performing these delightful and educational concerts for kids for over 20 years; they play snippets of music from their adult concerts, teach the children about the composers and musical instruments, and even invite the little ones dance to the music as a finale – it’s just as much fun for parents as for the kids!

I always illustrate the flyer for the Children’s Concert with little animals playing instruments, and this fall is no different. The selections to be played will include parts of Telemann’s Tafelmusik, which was meant to played as entertainment at a banquet, so that became my theme. I started with a pencil sketch, and set it in the rainforest because I just wanted to have a toucan in the scene. I sketched monkeys playing the noted instruments, with a jaguar seated at a little table enjoying the music.

I traced the basic lines of this scene onto bristol paper and inked it in loosely with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen. The finish is below.

For those who have attended before, please note the new time of the concert. I highly recommend this event to everyone – parents will love the informal and fun atmosphere and kids will easily learn to appreciate the beauty of the music and the joy of these musicians.

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/

 

Cows & Waffles

lodging_badapples_wpdetailMy latest illustration for Lodging Magazine is for an article about hotels keeping their dining areas germ-free. It delves into some of the nastier problems that hotel managers have to deal with – foodborne illnesses, sanitation laws and damage control responses. Not a lot of pretty images came to mind for my illustration, so I decided to go wacky with it.

The article begins by stating how people often like to get away to hotels where there are lovely bucolic scenes out the window, cows grazing and sheep frolicking nearby – but the visitors don’t realize that the flies around livestock are one of the most common ways for germs to spread. While flies buzzing around a dining area seemed off-putting to me, I thought some barnyard animals would be funnier and less openly icky. I sketched a cow and sheep in line at a hotel breakfast buffet.

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Whenever I’ve been at a hotel for breakfast, the most entertaining thing is watching people use the waffle machine, so I drew the cow using that. The editor asked me to include a bowl of apples in the drawing, since the article’s title is ‘Bad Apples.’ She approved the sketch so I painted it – acrylic paints, prisma pencil on illustration board.

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More Poodle Pics 2

I’m continuing to illustrate Once Upon a Poodle by Chrysa Smith, coming down to the wire now.  Here are a couple new illustrations (others are shown in previous posts, scroll back to see them) :

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Illustration for a Fall Children’s Concert

lenapechamberensfall16detailtwOnce again the Lenape Chamber Ensemble has asked me to create a fun illustration to advertise their semi annual concert for children. This ensemble has been performing outstanding classical chamber music since 1975, and its musicians are among the best that the New York/ Philadelphia area have to offer, and have come from as far away as California and Europe. My friend Mary Eleanor Pitcairn has supported and produced these concerts since their inception, and she and her daughter Elizabeth Pitcairn are remarkable musicians themselves, as well as devoted patrons of musical art.

The program for this concert includes Handel’s Water Music, which he wrote in response to King George I of England’s request for a concert on the River Thames. It features movements related to dances of the era, such as minuets, bourrees and hornpipes. You’ll recognize the hornpipe if you listen to it here. I thought about the hornpipe that is a traditional sailors’ dance, and chose to draw cats for my illustration of sailors performing the music, while two break out into a hornpipe on the deck.

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I heartily recommend taking your children or grandchildren to these Lenape concerts, they are formatted especially for young children – the musicians talk about the music and composers in simple terms, demonstrate their instruments, play short snippets of the elegant music and explain how the instruments speak to each other, and take questions from the children. It often ends with all the children dancing to the final musical piece, and it’s a delightful experience for everyone!

 

Poodle Posse Picture Book: a few more pics

The new picture book I’m illustrating for easy readers is progressing – Once upon a Poodle, by Chrysa Smith, and it should be ready for publication sometime in the early fall.  A few bits & pieces –

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I’ll post more updates as we go along.

 

A Painting a Day: Polka Pigs

For the final Day 7 of a Painting a Day, I’ll post my Polka Pigs. As I mentioned previously, I love drawing animal instrumentalists, and this trio was inspired by my grandfather (clarinet), Mr. Pondl (accordion) and a tuba player (can’t remember his name), whom I heard play in my grandparents’ house in Allentown, PA, when I was a child. They were excellent musicians (all born in Austria), very stoic as they played; but there was one piece where at a certain point they would all stop playing and call ‘y-y-y-yip!’in a falsetto – then plow back into the polka – so funny and endearing! polkapigs_smallwp

Thanks to everyone for hanging on for the full week of paintings! You can see Days 1 through 6 by scrolling back through my blog.