This past weekend I attended my first “Illustrator’s Day” with the Southern Breeze SCBWI illustrators! It was just as amazing, if not better, than the pricier conferences (which are geared mainly to writers) that I go to twice a year. And as you can imagine, this day was geared specifically to illustrators. It was also extremely affordable. Anyway, more about Illustrator’s Day in my next post :)
I was fortunate enough to be one of the first 12 folks to sign up for Illustrator’s Day which qualified me to participate in a month-long mentorship with the amazing illustrator, Michael Austin! (He has a new book coming out soon called “Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg”.)
Michael challenged us 12 with depicting suspicion in the context of one of these three classic stories: Rumpelstiltskin, Three Billy Goats Gruff, or Little Red Riding Hood. We discussed sketches over email and phone calls. Michael Austin truly has a teaching spirit! His emails were very detailed, and he really took his time with each of us. I learned a lot! He says there are three things in which he feels is most important in an illustration: action, emotion, and connectedness.
So here is a series of photos of my work progressing from sketches to a final painting…
I was growing tired of Red Riding Hood cloak imagery, so I tried a hoodie instead. Michael challenged me to enhance the action and emotion. So, I let her hand reach to touch the wolf’s feet and she looks more scared. The wolf’s feet are about to pounce too. I also added glasses to Red. Michael brought up the question: why can’t Red tell this isn’t her granny until it’s too late?
At this point I just jump in. For some reason, I have the urge to paint on wood lately, so I did :) This sketch really got me excited. In some ways I like Red’s face and expression in this sketch better than in the final piece, but sometimes you just have to move along. And since I’m not a digital painter, I can’t just go back. What’s done is done for the most part. The mouth, eyes, glasses, and gesture in general is strongest here, but I’m still happy with my finished piece.
I start adding paint. Unfortunately, things start looking a bit stiff here. And she starts to look older again after I had finally gotten her to look younger in the sketch above. The work sat like this for two days, and it itched at me bad- all I could think about was how I could “fix it”.
This is a big jump in the process, but when you get on a roll you just have to go with it. I’m especially proud of the way the background turned out. I tend to avoid backgrounds so this was a huge leap for me to do one effectively that didn’t compete with my foreground images. Tints and shades. Tints and shades.
So there you have it! I think it turned out pretty fun! This piece is a little more child accessible than some of my other work. I’m definitely evolving, growing, learning. If you have a chance I’d love to hear what you think!