Rumor has it that November is “National Novel Writing Month,” also known as “NaNoWriMo.” According to Wikipedia, the goal of NaNoWriMo is “to get people writing, no matter how bad the writing is, through the end of a first draft.”
The NaNoWriMo goal is certainly one that could be applied to any sort of creative project. Even in illustration, I find that just getting started on a project can often be the hardest part. The success of NaNoWriMo has fueled numerous spinoffs–like “PiBoIdMo” (Picture Book Idea Month), “NaPlWriMo” (National Play Writing Month) and “NaNoFiMo” (National Novel Finishing Month)–just to name a few.
I am not planning to write a novel this year. (I’ll stick with reading them.) But in celebration, here’s an illustration to put you all in the mood.
Will you be participating in any sort of writing challenge this month?
This illustration is from a dummy book I created for a standard 32-page picture book about a young raccoon who sets out on a quest to find a monster called the terrible “Wumpu-Ye Ye.” He has to overcome various obstacles along the way, and in the end does not quite get what he expects, but instead finds something rather better! Here are some other images for the dummy.
Sometimes I have characters in mind before they have a story. This weekend, I decided to send two such characters to a cafe in France so they would have the opportunity to meet. I figured they could get to know each other and decide whether or not there was more to their story. (As a side note, “le Lapin Sauté” is an actual cafe, but not in France–in Quebec City.)
When we left off the last post, I had just taped my soaking-wet watercolor paper to a sturdy piece of board and left it to dry. Here’s what happens next in my process.
(If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.)
At this point the paper will stay totally flat, no matter how much water or paint I put on the surface, which will keep the watercolor from pooling in the valleys of warped paper. I keep a variety of brush sizes available but will often paint an entire painting with only two brushes. My favorite is my trusty Winsor and Newton Series 7 (size 8.) I know these are awfully expensive, but adore this brush. I can paint incredibly fine lines or nice broad strokes with it, and it holds a ton of water. If I ever forget how great it is, I need only use a different brush for a few minutes and I’m quickly reminded. The other brush I’ll commonly use is a sable square wash for covering large areas with washes or gradients.
Sometimes I will pre-mix some color in little glass bowls if I need a lot. The three dishes below have the three main colors I used for the painting: French Ultramarine, Quinacridone Red, and a warm yellow that was a mixture of New Gamboge and Quinacridone Red. I will spend a lot of time testing out different color combinations on small scraps of paper to make sure I have the gamut right. I still keep my full palette handy for extra touches if needed and for color mixing.
The Sun Gallery has posted some great photographs from the Children’s Book Illustrator exhibition that my work is a part of (currently showing in California.) Click the image below to visit the Sun Gallery blog for the whole post! Also, if you’re in the area, be sure to come for the artist reception and book signing next Saturday, March 17 from 1-4 pm. Unfortunately I have obligations that prevent me from making it to California next weekend, but I’m sure it will be a good time! Click here to find out more about the event.
This just in… “Good Fortune” has been chosen as a 2012 NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies book! I hope this means that it will end up in even more school libraries for kids to read (like me in the Loma Linda Elementary School library, back in the day.) Congrats to Renee and Joan and everyone else who made this book happen! It has been such fun watching the project come to life.
In other news, I’m excited to be exhibiting some of the paintings from Good Fortune in the 2012 Children’s Book Illustrators Exhibit at the Sun Gallery in Hayward, CA from February 15-April 7. Here’s the cool postcard they put together for the show:
Here’s a new illustration I just finished last night. It makes me nostalgic for India. I imagine this is somewhere in Rajasthan, maybe Pushkar or Jodhpur (hence the blue buildings!) I just love how full of color and life India is. Where else would you find a bus that was so elaborately decorated? It’s a pretty incredible place!
Last weekend I packed my bags and hopped on a plane to Carlsbad, California for a gathering of fellow illustrators. It was an incredibly inspiring weekend with some amazing artists, and from looking at old sketches and learning new techniques to demonstrating our processes and talking about the pros and cons of an agent, we covered the gamut of illustration topics. I think we spent the majority of the time either lounging by the fireplace with various beverages and snacks or hanging out on the beach (It’s a hard life, I know.) But in addition to illustration, another main theme of the weekend was food. Delicious food. There seemed to always be something cooking in the kitchen, whether it be popovers, pumpkin pie, perfectly seared steak, German pancakes, delicious salads, or something that I have decided can only be called the “heavenly fluffy Italian cheesy dish.”
To commemorate all the deliciousness that happened last weekend, I present to you with no further ado, the enthusiastic chef: