Hello friends. It has been a long time since I have updated the blog, but for a good reason. Over the past year I have been working hard on completing my first children's book entitled "Monday is Wash Day" written by MaryAnn Sundby and published by Ripple Grove Press. It's about two little girls and their little brother helping their mother do the laundry in the 1940's. This past week I finally finished it! The feeling of completing a large project is priceless. I feel proud of the work I accomplished and am excited to share this beautiful book with you. But since it won't be released till September 27, 2016 (mark your calendars!) I thought I would give you a preview of what it's like for me to create a children's book from start to finish.
(cover of "Monday is Wash Day")
When I tell people I'm working on illustrating a children's book the number one question asked is "how did you get that job"? Good question. I sent out postcards of my art and contact information to publishers and art directors around the country. Ripple Grove Press received my postcard. My publisher, Rob, called me and talked about this wonderful story that he and his wife would like me to illustrate. I was beyond thrilled and very surprised! Of course this was my very first illustrated book and so I didn't know what to expect. But Rob and Amanda have been so patient and helped me every step of the way.
Before I began sketching I studied the time period and researched: clothing, wallpaper, popular color palettes, houses, old wringer washing machines (which look like mini spaceships to me), kitchens etc. Once thoroughly researched I began sketches by first dividing up the story and then created small thumbnail sketches to understand what each spread would look like. After my rough drafts were approved I moved onto final sketches.
I work best when I have models to pose and draw from. After searching around I was able to find the PERFECT family for my book. The Richins have two beautiful daughters named Lucy and Mia and a little boy with the most adorable curly hair named Hank. The family you see in my book is based off of a real family. This makes the book even more real and special. I have grown to love and admire this beautiful family who have been through so much.
I created all the illustrations by painting, cutting, folding, and sculpting paper to look like clothing. I chose to use paper as my medium because it compliments the story perfectly. The visual three dimensional texture of the folded paper makes the clothing look real--as if you can reach out and touch it. It makes the story come to life and allows you to feel apart of the story.
I hunted for small clothespins but found that none were small
enough for what I needed, so I made my own using matches.
Once the final sketch is created, I trace the sketch onto bristol paper using a light table and then I paint the clothing, objects, and characters using gouache (opaque watercolor). Next I cut out the individual pieces using an exacto knife and glue them all together. It's like putting a puzzle together--pieces can easily get lost. Sometimes I may cut too much and will need to start all over again. The process is time consuming, but the final product is worth it.
Below is an example of the process:
I work from home which can be nice since I can work in sweats and t-shirts (the best!) However it can also be a bit lonely. Fortunately I have a studio cat named Willow to keep me company. Unfortunately she tends to lay all over my art. In the past she's tipped over my water container onto art projects and sketches. I learned never to leave water unaccompanied.
Adding a box on my desk seemed to help.
Willow even ended up in the book.
And after a year of hard work I'm all done! And that's my cat...
Illustrating this children's book was a delight. Yes, there were times I wanted to throw in the towel and never create art again (that's how I felt at 3am at one point), but the best things in life are worth the hard work. Now that I'm finished I look forward to new projects and hopefully illustrating more books in the future. I'm grateful for all the love and support from friends and family.
*You can now pre order Monday is Wash Day