Monday, November 27, 2017

Sneak peak of a new project I'm working on!

Cory and the 7th Story

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.

Visual Logos:

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!!!!


Monday, November 20, 2017

Western New York Children's Book Expo

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 SnyderChristopher 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.   

Monday, November 6, 2017

Children's Book Quote

As part of National Picture Book Month this year I thought I'd add a new feature:  Children's books quotes.  I get some of the best wisdom and most touching moments from children's books. Nothing warms my heart more than a well loved character and the wisdom they give from the pages of a good book.  So here is a favorite from Charlotte's Web by E. B. White.

(I'm sorry, I don't know who did this art, I couldn't find the source.  If you know let me know so I can credit them:)  )

Friday, November 3, 2017

November is National Picture Book Month!

November is National Picture Book Month!  And what a line up of events are planned!  My new picture book Five Hungry Mice launches this month and will be debuted at the Western New York Children's Book Expo on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at the Buffalo Convention Center. 

In addition, the sponsor of the Western New York Children's Book Expo, local children's book store Monkey See Monkey Do, has a whole week of events planned with authors and illustrators from all over the country!  Check out the listing of events below.

I hope you can get out to one of these wonderful events and celebrate Picture Book Month!  Be sure to share the love of reading with a child who you love and a lifetime of memories will be born.  I'll be back in my next post with more details about the schedule of events for the Western New York Children's Book Expo next weekend. 

Until then remember these words from Dr. Seuss: 

"You can find magic wherever you look. 

Sit back and relax, 

all you need is a book."