Wow! It's May and I'm just getting around to posting this piece of art I made back in March. Well, I think you are going to like this even though it's a bit late.
So here is the story....I belong to the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators and we have a local chapter for those in New York state. Back in the fall, the leaders of the local chapter (WestCenNYSCBWI) decided to start a sketchtravel, which is a traveling sketchbook that moves from illustrator to illustrator. I signed up to participate and wound up being the last person on the list to add a sketch before the book went off to our annual spring conference. That means I got to see all of the art before anyone else did, not even the organizers of the sketch travel got to see it before me. How did I get so lucky?
When I received our traveling sketchbook it was like receiving gold in the mail! I was so excited to see the contributions of everyone and wondered what I would contribute. When I opened the sketchbook I was blown away! The most amazing art was in there and each piece has it's own personality. There was no theme to follow, just sketch whatever your heart desired. It was very inspirational to see the work and the mediums people chose to work in.
Here I am receiving the sketchbook in the mail.
To start I made a little video of the whole book for you to see, then I'll post some of the art individually, and lastly my contribution.
Now, here are a few pieces from the sketchbook that just blew me away...
And my contribution.....
When I painted this it had snowed again for what felt like the thousandth time. I was dreaming of spring and wishing it would hurry up and come. I thought of all the creatures that were sleeping the winter away and wishing I could do the same:)
Below you can see how the painting came together... I started with references and then made a sketch the size of the book. You can't imagine how nervous I was painting in this book that had so many wonderful pieces of art in it. I transferred my sketch into the book ever so carefully and then put tracing paper between the pages to prevent bleed through. I put a piece of plastic underneath it to keep the cover clean and I even moved my water to the other side of my work surface so I wouldn't spill it. Could you imagine...
Starting with a watercolor wash for the sky, I then moved to acrylics for the majority of the painting. I added in details with colored pencil and pen and ink.
I hope you enjoyed seeing the WestCenNY SCBWI Sketchtravel. I would be honored to participate in a project like this again. It was truly magical:)
Back in December I previewed for you a new project that I am working on called Cory and the 7th Story. I shared with you the characters, some environment studies and even the character's little homes. Since then I have been working on the story board and roughing out the pages. I am at the color roughs stage and hoping to have these finished by the end of the month (Yikes, that's only a few days away!) I thought you might like to see the characters I introduced you to in a few scenes with a little narration from the story.
Cory is a little raccoon who loves to read stories.
He loves all kinds of stories, but mostly he loves stories that end with "happily ever after". Cory lives in the old village, along the clear stream, near the edge of the deep forest, within the broad meadow with his woodland friends.
Normally the old village is a happy place. But recently, Cory's friends don't seem so happy. Some seem scared, like rabbit, and try to run away.
Others seem conniving and try to drive others away.
Still others seem to fight all the time...
This makes Cory very sad and he doesn't know what to do. Why are his friends not happy?
That is till a poet came to town one day. The poet was a creature that no one had ever seen before and she seemed to have magical words.
The poet shared a story that no one had ever heard before...the animals were amazed. And then.....
Well, what do you think? Wanna read it? Keep coming back, I'll have more to share and maybe even a surprise from the story!
Life is very busy right now, and I haven't had time to post much. I came across this little piece of art and quote and it was a reminder to me of those moments in life that get squeezed out when you are busy, and really and shouldn't.
So thank you to Thepicsees for their art and this great reminder. If you'll excuse me now I'm off to read a good bedtime story.....
A new year has begun and we are already one month into it! Wow! Where does the time go? I hope your year is off to a great start!
As you may know I spent much of the holiday launching my new picture book Five Hungry Mice all around Western New York. It was a huge success thanks to you all. But more importantly, I wanted to share with you, that your your generosity in supporting the sale of my book had far greater impact.
As you may know I donate 50% of all of the sales of my picture books to the organization Feed My Starving Children. Well, this year we donated enough to feed two families for a whole year! We were able to donate 22% more this year than last year, and we are on our way to feeding a village!
Providing meals to these hungry children has to be one of the most powerful things we can do to help them on the road to a happy and productive life. Sharing the blessings of your support of my art with these wonderful children is a privilege for me. And I want to let you know that I follow through with your donation to them every year.
So take a moment to smile, and realize that we have done something very good this past year. And with your support we will both continue to do good in the year to come.
Playing a little catch up here after a busy Christmas show season! I spent most of November and December launching Five Hungry Mice to all my friends in Western New York! Art shows, Children's book expos, local TV appearances, book signing, and more, oh my! I seem to have done it all. And I am so thankful for the support of my family, friends, and publisher who helped me with each of these opportunities.
What a wonderful reception you gave my newest picture book. The best part for me is always being able to visit with you, and learn about the children who will be reading my books. Thank you for taking the time to stop by my booth at my different art shows, or drop me a line in my e-mail, or send me support on social media. I love hearing from you all, and I especially love the pictures of children enjoying my books.
I like to keep a list of the names of the children I sign the books for and looking at it afterwards is like looking at Santa's nice list:)
I also had fun introducing a new character to you all, Howard the Monster. He and his monster friends made an appearance this year in my new Monster Match Game. Howard comes to me from Dave and Debbie Preston, who shared their wonderful song about Howard with me a few years ago. Howard is so adorable I just had to share him with you all, and now he is going to be a future picture book! Look for him for next Christmas season:)
So now it's January and I need to get working again. I have two projects this year that I hope to get done for you all. That means lots of painting and lots of fun!
So stay in touch and follow me on Instagram at heatherharris.illustration for some in the moment updates:)
I have another picture book in the works that I am super excited about! I have been working on it for about three months now fleshing out the characters, environment, and flat plan. I thought you might like to see a few things I have created. These are all just sketches and ideas, but if you are like me, that's the art that I love to see:)
Logos and characters and environment oh my!
When I begin a picture book project I need to think through some of the building blocks of what will become the picture book. This requires research and studies and lots of little messy drawings. But if I take the time to think through this stuff up front, the rest of the picture book process goes much more smoothly.
Imagery, such as small vignettes that act as visual logos is a nice way for me to think about the essence of the story, and they become good little pieces of art to represent the project. I created two such pieces of art and above is the one I like the most. It's just a pen drawing on layout bond with prisma color marker at this point. I love prima color marker because you can lay down color quickly and get a sense of what final art might look like. But at the same time I often find the colors are too saturated. I guess I haven't figured out the best way to work with them yet, but I keep trying:) I will eventually paint it in oil
Characters of the story is the next thing I need to think about. I try to push myself to think about variety of shape and size (something I learned while at the Academy). I had a good friend of mine tell me that you should be able to recognize a character by it's shadow. Meaning their shape is so distinctive that you would know if anywhere! I think that is a great way of thinking about it! I haven't perfected that yet, but I do keep that in mind as I develop my characters. Below is the character line up I created. There are a lot of characters! I love the variety of animals I got to work with and imagining their environment was even more fun!
The next thing I had to think of was the environment where these little guys live. I focused in on these words from the manuscript....Cory lived in the old village, along the clear stream, near the edge of the deep forest, within the broad meadow. I created a little painting of what this might look like, you can see it below.
Then I had to come up with all of the houses that these animals would live in. That was even more fun! I drive through a small ski village on my way to work. As I was driving through I noticed all these cozy little homes that people rent out during the ski season. They made for the best visual reference for the homes I imagined my characters living in. One day on my way to work, I took time out to stop and walk through the village. I brought my camera and took all kinds of photo reference of the homes to give me ideas to work with. Then I went back to my drawing table and come up with houses for each of my characters. You can see a sample of them below.
Now for the fun part....
See if you can guess which animal lives in which house!
I hope you enjoyed learning about Cory and the 7th Story. I will have more to post about it in the coming months as I work through the pages and introduce you to my wonderful authors! You are going to love this story!!!!
Where else can you find 40 amazing children's book authors and illustrators in one place during National Picture Book month? Only at the Western New York Children's Book Expo!
This amazing event was put on by local children's book seller Monkey See Monkey Do and lasted an entire week, with book sales in schools, author visits, and illustrator demonstrations. The week culminated in a massive free event at the Buffalo Convention Center where all 40 authors were present to sign books for the children who attended.
For a quick recap of the event, check out the video that was put together for last year's Expo.
The list of authors and illustrators that were included looks like a best selling children's book store section, as you can see by the pictures above. And I was incredibly honored to be included:)
And I made some new friends including:
Caldecott winning illustrator E.B. Lewis, artist and Syracuse University professor James Ransom and his wife Lesa Cline-Ransom, Bad Kitty author and illustrator Nick Bruel, local friends Matt Chandler, Elizabeth Leader, and Rachel DiNunzio, David M. Schwartz, Laurel Snyder, Christopher Lloyd among many, many others! Below is a picture of us all at the event.
If you want to learn more about these authors, here is a link to their books and a quick bio on each one. Meet the Expo Authors
Children's books help make us who we are:
The important thing to note about this group of people is that each one is passionate about children and children's literature. So many of them remember how tough it was to be a kid and they draw on personal experience to tell stories that children can relate to. Children are drawn to stories that resonate with the challenges they are facing and these authors deliver with enduring themes such as overcoming adversity, enduring tragedy, finding a kindred spirit, relying on wit, gaining new powers or knowledge, and just plain having fun.
This is the stuff that translates into life lessons and lasting memories for young readers. It's the stories and the pictures of our childhood that inspire and motivate all of us.