Today I’m grinning like a tooth-missing five-year-old whose painting just got taped front and center onto the fridge.
The New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators chose my illustration Tug-A-Worm to be their Summer Facebook banner. Thank you NESCBWI, for this opportunity to share my art.
I began designing this banner by taking an old piece of art out of a drawer. A while back one of my critique buddies (using the sandwich method) had given me constructive feedback on the piece. She said, "You need to throw this in the trash." At the time, I had to laugh. She was right.
Salvaging the two sleeping birds and the nest (the bread part of that critique) from the doomed drawing, I added a visual story with the two young birds playing.
To organize the composition I traced and drew all the birds on tracing paper careful to vary the bird's poses and sizes, and keep important elements out of the text and profile picture areas.
I spotted problems in my drawing easily when I flipped the tracing paper over and looked at my work in a different way: as a mirror image.
The illustration board I prefer is thick. Therefore, I transferred the completed drawing using the old graphite transfer trick.
I lightly inked over the pencil marks using a dip pen. Watercolor paint leaves a milky film over line work which I dislike, so after the light outlining, I set the dip pen aside.
When the ink dried I erased the pencil marks using a gummy eraser.
I chose my color palette to coordinate with the Da Vinci brand watercolor Cobalt Turquoise. Wanting to include a red bird (but not an overwhelmingly red bird) and an orange bird, I put down an under layer of Winsor Newton’s cadmium yellow, followed by a wash of Winsor Red. Similarly, I softened the cadmium yellow bird with raw sienna.
I scattered each color in varied amounts around the painting. This helped to unify the painting.
Sometimes I squinted my eyes to check the painting's contrast, adding shadows and darkening colors accordingly.
I then swirled and pulled my pen nib (using varying amounts of pressure) all over the painting, crosshatching to create shadows, adding texture, and applying thicker lines to the foreground and main subject areas.
Now this piece is finished, so it's time for me to work on my Twitter banner.
Thank you SCBWI, NESCBWI, and my critique groups, GBIG, Illustrator Sunday, and WIG at The Writer’s Loft. Your shared guidance, support, and knowledge of the children’s picture book industry has helped me in more ways than I could write about in this blog. At our next meeting, I might even give you a hug.