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31 October 2017

Coloring Page Tuesday - Skeleton Cha-Cha

     This was a card I made for our retiring Director at Hollins University. Amanda loves all things Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead (November 2nd)! CLICK HERE for more Halloween-themed coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...


     Click the cover to learn about my Halloween picture book - Lula's Brew. She's a witch who would rather be a famous chef!
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

30 October 2017

Halloween in Edinburgh

Halloween isn't as much of a thing here in Scotland as it is in the US. However, you can find pockets of celebrations. For instance, I saw quite a few children leaving some sort of event yesterday - they were all in costume. And last night, Stan and I went to our friend's monthly Edinburgh Salon - Halloween-themed. We saw a few entryways decorated right and properly on the walk there.

At the salon itself, Connie outdid herself. The decorations were awesome! The door matt set the mood.
The balcony dripped with El Dia de los Muertos skulls.
The cocktails were cranberry and cointreau with eyeballs (lychee nuts with blueberries in them - yum!). Screaming ghosts were projected on a wall from the balcony.
And best of all was the table - what a spread!
I wore my stripey stockings and pumpkin earrings, but some folks dressed up all the way.
The menu was mostly Dia inspired Mexican - shrimp and avacado on homemade tortillas, then chicken mole over cilantro rice, with a side of marinated cucumber and radish salad. Dessert was margharita pop-sicles and more eyeballs - chocolate ones this time. I'll be getting cravings for those! (I'll add photos of the guests as Connie shares.)
     All said, it was a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween! Bwahahaha!

29 October 2017

TRAILER: The Breadwinner

The new animated movie, THE BREADWINNER, was done by the same folks who did the gorgeous THE SECRET OF KELLS. I can't wait to see this! Click the image to watch the trailer.

28 October 2017

SOI - Orson B. Lowell and Charles Dana Gibson

While in New York, I did a lot of walking. Including a small jaunt through Central Park...
on the way to the Society of Illustrators. I mainly went to see the last day of Greg Manchess' work for Above the Timberline on display. But as usual, there was lots of other great work to see, and I'm fairly certain these are in the public domain, so I'm happy to share.
     The primary exhibit on display was a collection of black and white work by Charles Dana Gibson of the "Gibson Girl" fame...

and Orson B. Lowell. Most of the work represented was by Lowell, although the methods were remarkably similar - I believe we're looking at ink applied with a brush.
Ink very skillfully applied with a brush. I mean, look at the motion in these lines!
And how shape is alluded to rather than drawn straight.

His greyscale washes were also exquisite.


Even his color work was simply lovely.

The surprise to me was how large the pieces are - it seems all the publications of these pieces I've seen were small, so that they looked more like highly detailed etchings. No, these were big - at least 11x17" or bigger. Mistakes or corrections were drawn on new paper seamlessly glued on top. But what I loved most was all this energy and movement in the lines. (Anybody who knows me, knows what a line-geek I am after working on Snoopy for so many years early in my career.) What a treat and fantastic learning experience to see these works in person!
     Happily, while at the SOI, I met and had lunch with the Collections Manager, artist Eric Fowler. We dined right under a Greg Panchess painting and talked shop. I even ran into Betsy and Ted Lewin (who I interviewed HERE) who were there to see the George Booth exhibit. It was so much fun! Can you imagine a better time for an illustrator? I can't!

26 October 2017

John Shelley's MAGIC FOR SALE

I am a longtime fan of John Shelley's work. Happily, he stopped by to share his latest book, MAGIC FOR SALE, written by Carrie Clickard for Holiday House. And he shared some luscious work-in-progress images. Woohoo! I can't think of a better Halloween treat than this!

Click the cover to visit the book at Holiday House.
e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it and what is your medium?
John:
I’ve used a lot of different materials in my wider illustration career, both hand-drawn and digital, but for children’s books I tend to stick with pen & ink with watercolour.
It’s not a rule set in stone, but years ago in Japan most of my work for advertising and editorial was in a very different style using process/computer colour, it was very graphic, but inevitably quite a mechanical way of working, so my children’s books became a relief from that kind of work, the more ‘graphic’ my other work became, the more ‘analogue’ my children’s books became. It’s a more natural, intuitive way to make art, I enjoy the struggle with traditional materials. Though most of my work is for children’s publishing now, on the whole, I’ve stuck with the hand-drawn & painted method, though I’m not against working digitally at all!
      The process is pretty straightforward - a lot of prep work goes into pencil roughs, once 1/2 sized pencil sketches are approved by the editor I enlarge them to full size with photocopies and trace them onto watercolour paper, then begin inking in the lines with my dip pen (I use Leonardt EF Principal nibs for watercolour paper). When the entire book is drawn out in pen and ink, I put away my nibs and start painting layers of watercolour.
Click this image to see it larger in a new window.

e: How long did each of these illustrations take?
John:
As I tend to work on all the spreads at once it’s a little difficult to calculate how much a single picture takes… If I were to do just one spread, then maybe 5 days to a week?, depending on the level of complexity. That’s for the final art production, there was a lot of time spent on research, sketches and so on before then.
Click this image to see it larger in a new window.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
John:
I think back to that sense of wonder I had as a child when discovering children’s book illustrations, the way certain pictures capture your imagination and send a tingling down your spine. When I think of the ones that affected me, I think it comes down to one or more of three key things:
1) They are windows to another place that beg you to explore, in the sense that they take you from where you are and propel you to somewhere else, they entice the viewer to step inside the image, mentally explore them, through composition, detail, or whatever, they pull you into the picture.
2) These pictures often have a powerful sense of atmosphere or mood that places you in the location, so those illustrations that give you a sense of time of day, weather, or the fragrance of the air (pleasant, foul or otherwise!) … movement, shadows, and highlights help to convey this.
and 3) Character - personifications of people or animals that seize you with compelling emotion - fun, scary, light or dark, something about the pose, the expressions, or tone that makes them really believable figures. Illustrations that affected me as I grew up all had one or more of these qualities.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story? For instance, what sort of research did you have to do for this book?
John:
When I first read Carrie’s text I was struck by the fun rollicking gait of the rhymes, but also by the spooky locations, so my first step was to create the shop interior in my own mind. I wanted to give a sense of claustrophobia, of being a jumbled, mysterious shop overflowing with spooky items in every corner, but at the same time reflect the rollicking fun of the narrative, so finding that balance was the target.
Click this image to see it larger in a new window.

      Illustrators find inspiration from all kinds of sources. Georgie was based very loosely on Fred Scuttle, a character of 1970’s TV comedian Benny Hill. I was never a massive fan of Hill’s brand of slapstick bawdy comedy (highly sexist looked at through today’s lens!), but the buttoned-up, ‘have-a-go’ Scuttle character was a definite inspiration for the kind of ghost-hunting character I envisioned Georgie to be.
      I deliberately made the ghost a friendly, non-threatening simple motif to give contrast to some of the more tightly rendered background details. The shop owner Miss Night presented me with a conundrum, on the one hand, she runs a shop so has to match the environment, but at another point, she threatens to eat Georgie, so is quite monstrous. If I were to literally make her a monster though, it would diminish Georgie’s dare to find a ghost - who would care about finding a ghost when the shop itself is run by a monster? So she is human - though a somewhat witch-like and ashen-faced one!
e: What was your favorite or most challenging part of creating this book?
John:
I like nooks and crannies, so designing the interior of the shop and finding things to fill it’s shelves was endlessly fascinating, research took me in all kinds of mythological and supernatural directions which I’d like to explore more in future projects. I also really enjoy drawing spooky buildings and landscape too, so the views of the street and the shop from the outside were particular fun.
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
John:
There are a few details that might encourage some readers to delve a little deeper… some of the objects in the basement and shop are referenced from history and mythology, in addition to things specifically mentioned in the text. The ‘blue’ spread of the ghost celebrating for example - the background behind includes amongst other things a Cerberus (Greek legend), a Tarasque (French mythology), a Krampus costume (European Alps) and an Anomalocaridid, an early sea predator. Here and there you might spot the odd talisman & runic symbol aimed to protect against witchcraft (there’s one on the cover!) I don’t expect readers to understand these, but they are authentic occult symbols for those interested! No hidden messages though, and rest assured, no secret spells!
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
John:
At the moment I’m working on my own ideas for picture books. Over the last few years I’ve been very busy illustrating a string of picture book texts written by others, which has led me to put my own story ideas on ice for a long time, but now I’m slowly getting back into the rhythm of developing my own projects. Also I’ve been very busy working on black-and-white illustrations for novels, I just finished inking drawings for a series of three children’s novels about Auckland Harbour ships, which will scheduled to be released later this year.
      My dream project? Something magical, poetic and poignant, something timeless that speaks to us all.
      Many thanks Elizabeth!!
e: Thank you, John!

25 October 2017

Where's e? The reveal!

Have you been playing along? Did you figure out Where in the World is e? Well, I'll be home by the time you get this, but here's the big reveal:


All done up for Halloween, no less!

Did you guess New York City? You were right! I stayed in this lovely hotel:
in the heart of the flower district in Chelsea, New York.
And no, I'm not going to tell you why I was there. THAT will have to remain a mystery!

24 October 2017

Coloring Page Tuesday - Grizelle

     Meet ghristly, bristly, Grizelle - my grumpy little witch who woke up on the wrong side of the broom! CLICK HERE for more Halloween-themed coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...


     Click the cover to learn about my Halloween picture book - Lula's Brew. She's a witch who would rather be a famous chef!
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

23 October 2017

Where's e? Round 2

Have you figured out where I am yet? Here are more hints. Where I landed has a lot of this going on.

I don't even know what some of these are!


Wee widdle pumpkins!



Figured it out yet? Check back Wednesday for the big reveal!

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