Illustrating the Maasai

Almost ten years ago I illustrated the African folktale The Lion, the Ostrich and the Squirrel for the Maasai Cultural Exchange Project. I learned much about the work of MCEP in doing this book, an organization that helps to build wells in Kenya and pay for education of women and children. I helped frame the actual story, which involves all animal characters, by suggesting we start the story by showing a common Maasai family tradition: the grandmother gathering the grandchildren under an acacia tree to tell stories. A friend of mine asked me to make this cover illustration into a notecard for her. I’ve just added it to my Etsy line of illustrated cards, and it can be seen and ordered here.

This is pack of 8 notecards (blank inside) and 8 ivory envelopes. Printed on the back of the notecard is a description of the scene: “The artwork shows the Rift Valley of Kenya, a region of many Maasai villages. A grandmother making bead jewelry while seated on a cowhide tells her grandchildren a folk tale in the shade of an acacia tree. An enkaji – a home made of mud and sticks – is behind them. A father and son herd goats in the background, and behind them is a fence of acacia branches, which encircles the villages to keep wild animals from entering.” When I drew the illustrations for this book I had the kind cooperation of several Maasai visitors who explained specific cultural details in the drawing, so the scene is authentic.

The 8 cards (same illustration on each) in this pack are 5 1/2″ wide by 4 1/4″ high, which is a typical ‘invitation’ size notecard, taking regular first class postage. The cardstock is made from partially recycled paper and the cards are printed in the USA.

If you would like a notecard of this sort customized by me to include your personal message or a custom-drawn illustration, please contact me through my Contact page to discuss your ideas and my illustration fees.

I am happy to say that The Lion, the Ostrich and the Squirrel is in schools and libraries in Maasailand, and is especially useful because the story is written in both English and Swahili. The book is available for purchase, with proceeds going to MCEP, here.

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 –

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

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I’ll post more as we progress.

Brooklyn scene

I’m working on Chrysa Smith’s new children’s book The Upside-Down Gardener, and just finished painting the first spread, taking place in Brooklyn, NY – kind of an unlikely opening for a book about a garden, but that’s part of the point. I started with a pencil sketch, after much photo research into city scenery¬† –

 

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Our lead character is the little girl, Dory, emerging from the subway with her mom.  Here is the finished scene, minus the text, which will be dropped in later.

 

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I’ll be posting more scenes as the work progresses!

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.

My Work Featured on ‘Writing and Illustrating’

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I am quite honored to have my illustration work featured on ‘Writing and Illustrating,’ a fun and very informative blog on publishing by author-illustrator Kathy Temean. The interview, with lots of samples of my work, is here.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions at the bottom of Kathy’s blog, I will be checking it throughout the weekend.

A hearty thank you to Kathy for her help!