More of my cartoons for “A Woman’s Book of Dirty Words”

A few more chapter headings from Mary Fran Bontempo’s very funny book about the ‘dirtiest’ words to women – a book with some great commonsense advice on how to ‘clean up’ the language too. Below are two chapters with a couple of the more positive words in a woman’s vocabulary, like Balance and Adventure:



A Woman’s Book of Dirty Words is available as an ebook here, and will soon be in paperback version.  To see a few more of my cartoons for it, scroll up on my blog to the previous two posts.

Cartoon Animation for a Book Trailer

My friend, humor writer Mary Fran Bontempo, has written another funny and insightful book for women, to be released soon — The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words. It follows on the themes and success of her previous humor book, Not Ready for Granny Panties, which detailed:her ’11 Commandments for Avoiding Granny Panties.’  I was once again delighted to draw some cartoons for Mary Fran’s chapter headings, and when we were done tweaking the interior and cover art, she thought it would be fun to create a little animated sequence to promote the book, using the character.we developed for the cover.

Mary Fran suggested the action for the little scene, and I made a partial version of it to work out some of the movement, with just a pencil sketch of the figure.  Here’s how the 20-second partial version looked:

From this experiment I drew the full color character and made this finished 1-minute book trailer:

I used Windows MovieMaker for this animation. It is done fairly traditionally – I drew the character in various poses and made jpgs of her moving across the background, gesturing, etc., then put them in sequence into MovieMaker and added ‘fade’ transitions between frames to blur the transitions between actions.

When the book’s in full release, I will post more about it and the cartoons I made for it. I highly recommend The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words, by Mary Fran Bontempo – it’s very funny reading, especially for us gals, and would make a great gift!

Self-publishing ‘Let’s Visit New Hope,’ Part 1: Inspiration and Timeline

lvnhcoverfront300The new children’s book ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’, written by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler and illustrated by me, Pat Achilles, has just been released by the New Hope Historical Society. We used Amazon’s online publishing service, Createspace, to publish it.  This series of posts will follow the steps in the creation of the book.  

The authors of Let’s Visit New Hope contacted me last summer to ask my availability for taking on a book project.  Author Gayle Goodman, who has worked with grade-school children in the area, was the motivator, having realized there are no children’s books devoted to the unique, historic town of New Hope.  Roy Ziegler is a local author and historian whom Gayle brought on board for his particular expertise in the history of the area.


Art (c) M. Sasek

At our first meeting Gayle brought along two books from her childhood that somewhat inspired her to develop this project – and they became my inspiration as well. This is Paris and This is San Francisco are two of dozens of children’s books created by the incomparable architect-illustrator Miroslav Sasek in the 1950s and 60s.  They are delightful romps through famous cities of the world, with a dizzying number of beautiful illustrations drawn by Sasek, with the skill of a master but a child’s eye for fun.

They made me eager to do a book in this same vein, for our lovely local town of New Hope. The authors and I needed first to rough out a timeline for its production.

The authors had notes for the book but not a finished manuscript, and they planned to approach the New Hope Historical Society and other resources for grants or donations to pay for the art and production of the book.  From their typewritten manuscript, I would lay out the book from page 1 to 32, deciding which text and what art would go on each page.  I would sketch the illustrations and paint the finished art. And then the whole piece would be turned over to Createspace for printing – Roy had used Createspace for his other books and found good customer service and easy navigation. So basically we had to estimate the time needed to write the manuscript, gather donors, lay out the book, create the illustrations and have it printed.

Our ballpark estimations were developed: a couple weeks for the manuscript to be written; a month to lay out the book; 3 months to create the art; and a month to get it printed.  The task of soliciting donors, we decided, would come after I laid out the manuscript as a dummy book with pencil sketches.  We felt it would be a big selling point for donors if we could show them an approximation of what the book would look like, and also, having a 32-page dummy book would prove that we were serious about getting this book made.


Art (c) Pat Achilles

While we initially hoped to have the book ready for sale in December for holiday gift-giving, this was unrealistic for a full-color 32-page book. Instead we targeted March 1, which is Benjamin Parry Day in New Hope, as our hoped-for launch date.

In discussing the events and family-friendly places to include in the book, Roy suggested the idea of having Ben Parry himself – known as the Father of New Hope – be the narrator of the book, leading the reader through the town’s history and culture.  The Historical Society celebrates Parry’s birthday on March 1 at his historic home in the center of the boro, so Benjamin Parry Day was indeed the perfect time to aim for in introducing our book.

‘Let’s Visit New Hope’ is available at My next post coming soon: The Manuscript and Thumbnails. Please write questions in the comment box below the post and I will answer them asap. If you want to read future posts as they are published, subscribe to my blog by clicking on the +Follow box at the lower right of your screen and you will get email notifications when I have posted the next article.

See Original Illustrations Up Close

secretg96Every day we look at illustrations in magazines, on book covers, and printed on all types of retail items, but seeing the original artwork for them in living color reveals the art, the process and the personality of the artist behind the image.  I’m proud to be a co-founder of the Bucks County Illustrators Society, and very pleased to recommend to you our group exhibit, which is opening this Friday, October 3 at the bucolic Barn Studio Gallery on Gronendahl Farm in Doylestown.

Our goal at BCIS has always been to promote the art and business of illustration and give illustrators an opportunity to connect with other professionals in the field, and to date I think we’ve been very successful.  This exhibit, curated by the Barn Studio Gallery’s Kim Gronendahl, showcases the original paintings and drawings of 14 of our members, some of whom are quite well-known:gronendahleblast2

I will have a dozen pieces in the show as well, but I’m more than eager to view the originals by my colleagues in illustration – to examine them up close and get the backstory of the art and process from the artists themselves at the opening reception.

Please join us Friday evening for the art and complimentary refreshments if you can!  Gronendahl Farm is a beautiful venue for this show, it’s the home of the late Anita Gronendahl who was a master silkscreen artist.  The show opens Friday from 6 to 9 PM and continues October 4, 5, 11 and 12 from 1 to 6 PM, or by appointment.  The gallery is at 4783 Landisville Road, Doylestown, 18902.  For further info call Kim at 267-337-3023.

The Book of Jims

thebookofjimscoverfinal3In some posts a while back I showed my steps in painting the cover illustration for The Book of Jims, by my friend Jim Miller. I’m very pleased to say it is now available for purchase through either AuthorHouse or Amazon.  

I did not get to read the full book before I did the art – a common occurrence, with deadlines being what they are – but Jim gave me a rough table of contents and he suggested which Jims should be depicted on the cover. The first thing I learned from this book was the word ‘Olio’ in the subtitle.  Even though I’ve done my share of crossword puzzles, I’d never seen that one! Has nothing to do with margarine. It means ‘a miscellaneous collection,’ and that is an apt description of the witty path the author leads you through in this book – royal Jims, explorer Jims, places named after Jims, food christened with Jim variations, sports Jims, poetry by and about Jims – and more oliotic tales. (Made that up, do not use in a crossword.)

I must note that AuthorHouse did a nice print job – I’ve had other books done by other print-on-demand publishers, many with mediocre production results – but the paper is very nice, they printed my art well and have pleasing margins for the text.  That’s been my biggest complaint among other printers, small margins that cram too much text on the page and into the gutter.

The Book of Jims is a fun & interesting read, especially to other Jims, but for anyone who likes quips and quirks of history. 





Book illustration finish, Part 5

Here is the finished art for the book cover, a cavalcade of historic figures plus a contemporary fellow at the end.


Did anyone guess what these guys have in common? Below is how the art will look on the cover, which I also designed. When the author releases it, which should be within the month, I’ll post more info on it – it sounds like a pretty fun read to me.



Book illustration finish, Part 4

I’ve painted in the next figure, which you might recognize, and which may give a clue as to who the other figures are – they do all have something in common.  I wonder if anyone can guess?


I’ll post the completed finish tomorrow.

Book illustration finish, Part 2

I painted in the second figure, and delineated the next few a bit. I’m glad I have a few days to work on this one, since leaving the piece over night often gives me a fresh perspective on how it’s are looking, and I can go back and add small touches to ‘finished’ characters. I’m connecting the figures somewhat with a little bit of eyeball interaction. 


Mystery novel cover art

I finished the watercolor cover art for the sketches I posted a week or two ago – author is very pleased.  I painted this scene of a cabin in the California mountains at twilight on Arches watercolor board, using mostly acrylic paints thinned with water.


The calico cat that is backlit in the window plays a significant role in the story.  He is also featured on the back cover: