Illustration

Peek into the art process for NUBBY

Filed under: Illustration,My Books | October 11, 2022

NUBBY (written by Dan Richards) is my next illustrated book! It comes out January 3, 2023. It’s about an under appreciated stuffed bunny who sets out on a long journey (just around the culdesac) to find a better life. It’s a sweet story about home and family (even though they can be maddening at times).

I related well to this story because my family (especially my kids) drive me insane half the time, but there’s really no where else I’d rather be! Truth be told, I drive them nuts too :) And I’m so grateful they take me back after I lose my marbles, over and over again.

or these illustrations, I drew the line art on Procreate on my iPad.

Then, I printed the line art onto watercolor paper and traditionally painted the values (lights and darks) using only black.

Last, I scanned in the black and white painting and brought it back into Procreate on my iPad to colorize the brush strokes using a “color” layer. Finishing touches were added in Photoshop.

I think this book might be my prettiest yet. I really enjoyed drawing and coloring digitally while still being able to do some traditional painting too. The lines seems sharper and the colors less “muddy” than some of my illustrations in previous books.

Wow, 10 years makes a difference!

It’s so true.

Yesterday, my husband (Ben) texted me the image (below left) and said “You’ve come a long way in 10 years”.

side by side old work and new work

These postcard images were created by the same artist (me) and had the same theme (little red riding hood) with a frizzy red-haired character. The difference is 10 years.

That first image is odd, right? Not very kid friendly and extremely stiff. It humbles me to look back at this, because now I remember what a beginning beginner I was!

Sometimes I forget. But looking back at this reminds me how patient and kind other creators and industry professionals were with me at conferences or other bookish events. They didn’t dismiss me and say “you just don’t get it”. Thankfully, they found tidbits of good in my work and praised those things while also giving me gentle nudges to improve over and over and over again.

My dreams were never crushed, and I’m so grateful for that.

Little Red and the Big Bad Editor cover

Just 2 weeks until Little Red hits shelves!

Preorder below!

Read It Again Bookstore (Suwanee, GA) Request a “signed by Shanda” copy in the order comments.

Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA) Order 2+ books for free shipping!

Bookshop.org

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Book Depository (International)

I invite you and your family to join me at Read It Again Bookstore in Suwanee, GA on Oct 8, 2022, 12-2pm. This in-person event is perfect for Kindergarteners, 1st graders, 2nd graders, and their teachers. We’ll be reading, drawing, coloring, and writing a thank you letter just like Little Red!

Everyone will get a bookmark and stickers, and of course I’d love to sign a book for you or your class :)

Teachers: I’ll be giving away one FREE in-person writing workshop for students! All attending (K-5) teachers will be eligible.

Read It Again Bookstore
3630 peachtree pkwy, suite 314
Suwanee, GA 30024

Thanks so much for reading!
Love, Shanda

My Daughter Did Something Brave

Art by Harvey McCloskey
Today, my 12 year old opened her first online business with RedBubble to sell her art designs on various merch! She has one design so far, but buyers can get it on shirts, bags, pillows, phone cases, etc. She hopes the sales will help her to start saving for a car (which she will need in 5 years).

But as any creative soul knows all too well, putting your art (aka your heart) out there in the world is a very vulnerable and brave thing to do. And the very first response she got from a friend this morning was, “why is everything so expensive?”. That little comment from a particularly close friend crushed her. She immediately felt dumb for even trying.

Man, it flew all over me as a parent and an artist. No wonder living a creative life is so hard. You have to believe in yourself. Be near others that believe in you too. Hugs, my creative friends!Check out her store for yourself and feel free to comment and send some words of encouragement for her. I’ll read her every one!
Check out Harvey’s Store!

A First Look at Little Red and the Big Bad Editor!


Little Red and the Big Bad Editor written by Rebecca Kraft Rector, illustrated by Shanda McCloskey (me!) and published by Aladdin, will be published September 6.

I’m just giddy about this book! It’s a book-smart vs. street-smart kind of story, and it was a blast to illustrate. Not only is it packed with fun and action, but also full of learning how to craft a proper letter— finger spaces between words, when to use capital letters, a greeting, and a closing. (Truth be told, my 11-year-old could benefit from this book :)

In this clever and playful fractured fairy tale picture book, the Big Bad Wolf is so distracted by Little Red’s poorly written thank you note to her grandmother that he keeps missing the chance to eat her!

Here’s a peek inside the book!













I hope you enjoyed this peek into the book!

LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR will swoop into stores on September 6, 2022.

Mark as Want-to-Read on Goodreads, or pre-order now from your local bookstoreBarnes & Noble, or on Amazon.

The Little, Brown Picture Book Event!

Filed under: Events,Illustration,Shanda's Journey | February 28, 2018

Before the details of this awesome trip to NYC slips my mind, I wanted to write about it here.

Every year, Little, Brown hosts a Picture Book Event where they invite media, book stores, and librarians, etc. to see original art from their upcoming Spring books. They also get to meet 2 author-illustrators tat are a part of that Spring list. Caldecott Medalist, Sophie Blackall, was the main attraction as she spoke about her beautiful upcoming book HELLO LIGHTHOUSE. And the other author-illustrator was ME! I spoke about myself as a new kid on the block and my debut book, DOLL-E 1.0. (My anxiety meds work well, because I wasn’t nervous!) Let’s just say, the attendees got to know the real Shanda – southern accent, tripping up on several words, a few tears and everything when I shared about my eye struggles. Why not? This is me :)

The space where the event was held was decorated with my characters and Sophie’s too! Each place setting had Doll-E and Lighthouse Valentines, sweet hearts candy, and a magnifying glass to find clues in the presentations. It was the cutest! And I finally got to meet the team I’ve been working remotely with in person: Andrea Spooner (my editor), Hallie Tibbetts (Andrea’s assistant), Jen Keenan (my art director), and Saho Fuji (art director) among others! I felt so welcomed and celebrated. It was a breakfast (and lunch) I’ll never forget, because I know this doesn’t happen to everybody, and it may never feel like this again … but that’s why this blog post is here … to document this wonderful moment in my journey!

Shanda “like panda” slide sketch in my presentation.

 

Me and Sophie

Office of fun!

Signed my very first book!

The COVER of Doll-E 1.0 is out! (and some SCARY failed attempts).

Ta-da!!! The final cover:

 

 

I’m really proud of this cover … my FIRST cover! We (me, Andrea Spooner, Jen Keenan, and Saho Fuji) experimented with several cover ideas before we came to this perfect conclusion! Since this was my first book, I was really intrigued by the process of working with a team that wanted the cover to look cool as much as I did. I am very lucky an honored to have worked with these women who knew much more than I did about great cover design.

Here’s a few of our ideas that didn’t pan out, looked too busy, or worse – looked a bit SCARY …

 

 

Doll-E 1.0 comes out May 1, 2018 and is available for preorder now!

I sincerely thank each of you who are cheering me on and reading this post! I hope you’ll join me in the countdown to book release day by signing up for my email newsletter (at the bottom of my website), so you’ll be sure to know where I’m doing story-times and book signings to celebrate next spring!

With love and excitement,

Shanda

P.S. What do you think of the cover? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Toughing It Out

Filed under: Illustration,Lessons of an Artist | August 28, 2015

"Let It Fly" sketch by Shanda McCloskey

I took a cycle class today. It was pretty tough. Going again and again is making me tougher.

This “book game” is a tough. silent. killer. I’ve heard next to nothing since I started submitting my book. I did get one “no,” but it was from a friend’s agent. I can’t help but wonder if it was as quick and gentle as it was as a curtesy to my friend more than anything. The fact is … it’s so quiet. So still. You don’t know how to adjust your technique. Is it the letter? the subject? the person? or has anyone even looked at it yet? Is it sitting in “the slush pile” getting moldy? Members in my critique group have been going through this for a while, but it’s real for me now. I wouldn’t even mind some rejections just to know someone looked at it.

This is a time to listen to my own heart I guess. I love the book I wrote. I believe it’s valuable and beautiful and funny. I believe a child and a parent would have a sweet experience reading it together at bedtime. I believe a room of preschoolers and kindergarteners would get a kick out of it at story time. I believe it would inspire a kid.

The book dummy I sent out is probably not perfect, but I think it has a fantastic chance to be a great book. I hope someone else will believe it too … in the traditional publishing world so my book could be in bookstores and libraries all over the place. I’m working and brainstorming on a new story now. It has a similar large theme of thinking bigger and believing. I need my own stories right now, because that’s what this time is requiring of me. To dream, do my best, be tough, and have some faith.

One day the silence will break. Probably :)

-Shanda

Springing Off From Here

Filed under: Illustration,Lessons of an Artist | March 26, 2015

"Charlotte" by Shanda McCloskey

This is Charlotte. A techie, gadget-loving girl.

 

It’s Spring! (Here in GA anyway :) A time for the renewal of many things, including me. I feel energized and extra committed to my goals and dreams this year. My baby is 9 months old, and for now, things are good. I am getting more sleep at night, and I’m trying to take good care of myself. I have a wonderful mother and mother-in-law who help SO very much with my girls! I’m so grateful.

I’ve been working with the incredible, E.B. Lewis, through a Skype mentorship! It’s cool. He felt I could do better and more interesting artwork if I used real art materials rather than my self-taught, flat, lack-luster attempt at digital coloring.  (He wasn’t quite that mean about it, thank goodness). I felt the same way, deep down.

"Charlotte on Yellow" by Shanda McCloskey

So, the illustration you see at the very top of this post is my best attempt (so far) at applying watercolor and oil pastel to one of my characters. Seems simple enough, but I was at war with myself for a week just trying to get the paint to do what I wanted. I finally painted this, and I feel like it was successful … so I’ll try to spring off from here … no looking back.

-Shanda

What I’ve drawn lately…

Filed under: Illustration,Shanda's Journey,Sketchbook | November 11, 2014

The first pencil drawing of a character is by far, my favorite part of an illustration. It’s fast. Full of possibilities, energy and texture. It’s alive! I believe my work is best when I let the sketch do heavy lifting in an image.

Image from "Dollie 1.0," a picture book dummy by Shanda McCloskey.

Here (above) is my latest color piece where I tried to let the pencil do the most work. And although this image lacks action and sense of setting in my opinion, I still like it and think its one of my best pieces yet. This image will be a color sample in my latest picture book dummy about a gadget-loving girl and a doll. My goal is to get this newly updated dummy submitted to the 2 people who requested it earlier this year before this year ends! (I have a 5 month old baby girl, so I’m moving a little slower these days :)shanda_mccloskey2 The pig (above) and pig & boy sketches (very bottom) in this post are sketches I had sent to a small publisher earlier this month when they thought I might be a good match for a story they were publishing. Unfortunately, they weren’t convinced. I guess it just wasn’t in the stars. But it was exciting for a little while! Bummed, but not defeated.shanda_mccloskey3 shanda_mccloskey4 shanda_mccloskey5

sketch by Shanda McCloskey

sketch by Shanda McCloskey

sketch by Shanda McCloskey

 

Thanks for stopping by to see what I’ve been drawing!

-Shanda

HONK! It’s Finished!

Filed under: Illustration,Shanda's Journey | May 7, 2014

Open book backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

Open book backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

I have been meaning to post this for a few weeks now. Things have been pretty crazy around here as we buckle down and get ready for baby girl #2 to arrive! She’s not due till July, but because we live in a pretty small house, we’ve had to really think and work out our space. My husband can’t work here at home anymore since we need his office for a baby room, and my office no longer exists either. I’m going to have to “think like a New Yorker” and separate a space in my living room or bedroom for a small studio area. Ben has rented an office elsewhere, but I’m going to need to be home most of the time caring for my small kiddos.

Anyway, I got off subject :) Here is the work I did for “Honk!”, a musical! You might remember my first post about this project here, when I completed the promo poster. This post is the rest of the work I did for the project.

Above, is a closeup of the open book backdrop that will stay on the stage the entire time. Then they had me add the bookshelf (below). Each book on this shelf is a Hans Christian Anderson story held together on the shelf by duckling book ends. The actors and actresses will enter and exit from behind the open book, and perform in front of this the entire performance as if the characters from the book have literally jumped off the page to tell the story. I’m not sure the example below is perfect to scale, but the stage will look something like this…

Honk backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

Honk backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

To vary some of the scenes, they had me do these next three back drops…

Cat lair backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

Cat lair backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

These images will be mounted onto 4 triangular columns that can separate and rotate to change to change scenes.

Farm and pond backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

Farm and pond backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

Marsh backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

Marsh backdrop by Shanda McCloskey

I learned a lot about scanning and printing resolution for a project of this size. The open book itself will be printed at 8×12 ft I think, and the the rest of these images at 8×8 ft.

I am so proud of this project, and I truly hope my work serves this production well! Can’t wait to see it all come to life :)

Honk the musical, background art by Shanda McCloskey

honk2

And here it is in action!

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author