Monday, October 25, 2010

Butterfly Ladies

Whew! There's far more to butterflies than meets the eye. At left is a photo of wild echanacia growing in the nearby forest preserve, taken earlier this past summer. Even if the final art is stylized or presented in a simplified version, this is where the sketches start - with the real thing.

One of the things Kimberlee and I have been discussing is the question of fact vs fiction. How 'real' should the characters be, and what about their environment, the landscape and background colors, or shifts in season? Seasonal shifts means the backgrounds, colors and plants will be changing as the story progresses. Our target audience will be younger children, so there will be bright colors, interesting details, and characters the readers will enjoy looking at and thinking about.

Ive worked up a detailed pencil and will be setting it to watercolor this week and have been working on faces for the characters. This is the most challenging aspect so far, developing characteristics that will appeal to small readers without looking like cute cartoons. We'd like the art to be somewhat realistic.

The attached link ( ) takes you to the Virtual Museum, a Canadian and Peruvian site geared to children, parents and teachers. Kimberlee and I enjoyed looking through this site and would like to share it with you. There's a section especially for teachers with ideas for games and classroom instruction.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sketches Coming to Life

Helena and I conversed last week and she shared two versions of sketches with me and we opted to go for the more detailed one. That is what I love about her work is all the neat intricate things she ends up putting in the background and foreground. I think it will be most interesting for the children's book.  We are trying to also stay true to the animals and habitats around which the story revolves. So we had much talk and shared research via the internet with each other about ideas for other items in the background and foreground of the pictures as well as basic and general color schemes to go along with the habitats, etc. I hope to get some time soon to play with the formatting of how I will need to submit for self publishing so that I will be ready when the finished art starts coming my way.

I am getting some publishers asking me to write, but it is technical and scientific ones, not children's book authors. I actually think it is more phishing than anything because these publishing houses are ones that are in India or may have local offices but the main one is in India. So I am not really flattered by it. But it would be cool if it were a publisher for a children's book.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Local support

So I heard through Facebook that one of our local libraries is still struggling to recover from hurricane Ike, now 2 years past. And what a great idea they had! Local children's authors got together and held a fundraiser for the library by selling books and donating proceeds to the library.  They had children's activities and so I planned on taking my 2 oldest kids to peruse through the books and choose one to bring home and thought I might be able to meet some more children's authors and pick their brains about how they became published/successful, etc.

One of my boys came down with a fever (such is life) so I only took my oldest to the event. We stopped at every table and talked with the authors and looked at the types of books they had.  We even met one talented woman who is a blind author. I didn't ask too much about her process but mostly my son was wondering how a blind person can write. I think it was a good experience for him to be exposed to the reality that we are not all alike and some of us have challenges in different ways but that we can all still be successful and do what we love. I talked to a few of the authors about their process and one urged me to let go to be a real author and not to worry about the process of the illustrations coming out a certain way to convey the story.  I'm just not ready to do that. I know that I want these books to be fabulous so I selected the illustrator to work with me whom I knew could bring about the desired effects I wanted in the quality of my book series. The author stated that for some of her books the illustrators that her publisher set her up with brought unique qualities to the story and came up with things about which she never would have thought. She recommended I take an intense picture book making class online. I looked it up and will think about it, but for now I just want to create. I looked up her website when I got home and she had a link to Jacket Flap. So I went to check that out. It is a networking source for authors, illustrators, and publishers. You can have an account and post items and look at what certain publishers are looking for, and more. So I have created an account on there. (Kimberlee Prokhorov) Talking with Helena later she stated she has had an account on there for awhile. I can link our blog to my profile and so we can maybe get some more interest in our book and whole process, then again maybe not! :) But I am appreciating the resources it appears to provide. 

I also spoke with another author whom was self-published and was looking into publishing electronically for e-books. She stated specifically that for picture books the iPad graphics were phenomenal. She recommended  Smashwords.  So I have looked at that too and will consider submitting my books that way too! Exciting! So I continue to explore my options as an author on publishing and networking while waiting for the art to catch up to a point where I can start placing it and formatting it for publishing. I am hoping Helena has opportunity to work on it as I would love to finish this prior to Christmas or at least for spring/Easter time frame.  I know that may be a very ambitious goal for both of us. But if you do not set goals, you will not achieve them. So here's to being ambitious! Cheers!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Getting started on the Art

Our book is going to be for younger readers, and my job as illustrator is creating art that's not only colorful, but something that a child will enjoy. For now we've a basic idea of what we want, and I'm in the beginning stages of sketching the characters and setting. Research is an important aspect of this and the Internet is great for quick sourcing of natural settings, flowers, and the creatures who will be appearing in the book.

Here's a look at my drawing table and the pretty view outside the window. Right now the leaves are turning golden yellow, and just visible across the street are some tall cottonwoods. Soon their leaves will turn golden. Sometimes, in the early hours around 2 to 3 a.m. we are awakened by the yipping and barking of coyote, who make this forest preserve their home. They don't bother anybody and seem to be having fun over there!