The big project over the last year has been a book I’m illustrating for a couple who is self-publishing a story about a neighborhood beagle. This is a sketch for one of my favorite spreads in the book.
This year’s Illustration Challenge was “An Act of Kindness Along the Way”. I choose to create an illustration geared towards non-fiction about how kids and their families can help monarch butterflies along their migration. Monarchs have faced a lot of challenges recently due to habitat loss. Putting fruit out for monarchs, planting milkweed, echinacea, zinnias, Black-eyed Susans and other nectar-rich flowers can create a “Monarch Waystation”(https://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/).
After getting an approved sketch for Lost, I began sketching concepts for two new word prompts, “Time” and “Flight”. I haven’t gotten the go ahead on any of these yet… still working on it. EB wants the image to stand on its own, be instantly readable as “Time” or “Flight”… not needing any explanation of what is going on. I do think that my thumbnails as drawings are getting better though, and one of the thumbnails has given me a story idea I’m pretty excited about.
In July, I was awarded a mentorship through NESCBWI with illustrator EB Lewis. His first assignment for me was to illustrate the word “Lost”. In addition to capturing the word, EB wanted to see narrative, emotion, and anticipation. Developing the concept was the most difficult part of the project. I drew dozens of sketches until EB told me to move forward on a sketch of a lost girl meeting a tiger.
From there, I collected reference and drew a final drawing. EB liked the drawing but wanted to see more of the setting and to see the emotion expressed in ways beyond facial expression.
My revised sketch was well received and developed into a final painting.
A LOT of sketches came before I arrived at the girl with the tiger idea that EB told me to develop further. Having the narrative capture the essence of the word “lost”, avoiding cliches, conveying a sense of emotion and creating anticipation were all a part of the challenge. While I liked some of the story ideas that grew out of these exercises, most of them did not satisfy all the challenge’s requirements.