Thursday, June 18, 2015

Beginnings and Endings

Cricket Magazine's Crowd Sorcery project which evolved into the fantasy story "The Girl Who Writes the Future" began just over a year ago and has come full circle. The first group of my Crowd Sorcery character sketches was published in the July/August 2014 issue of Cricket and the final part of "The Girl Who Writes the Future" printed in this year's May/June issue. If you missed any issues the entire story is available to read online. Now that Fable's adventure is complete, I thought I'd look back on the illustrations that opened and closed her story.

When I say "look back on the illustrations," I don't mean that I've already forgotten how they look! But while working with deadlines on a long-running project such as this, it's sometimes difficult to take a step back and evaluate all the work I'm doing with a fresh eye. I thought it would be interesting to compare side-by-side the first and final images I painted for the story to see how they relate to each other visually and thematically.

Fable reads by the light of the setting sun before she is suddenly thrust into a harrowing journey.

The first thing I noticed about both illustrations is that they have similar palettes. Both have a triadic color palette of orange, green and violet. I didn't plan this in advance so it was a happy coincidence that helped bookend the story. Both illustrations also feature warm light: in the opening image it's the rosy hue of a setting sun and in the closing picture, a luminous light radiating from the face of a sculpted full moon.

In the middle of the story, Fable and Luminè descend into darkness and mystery. Many scenes take place at nighttime or in the corners of ancient buildings and forgotten passageways, so for those images I frequently made use of a cool palette and a lot of blue hues. When the girls are successful in their journey they come back into the light once again.

I took a risk with the closing illustration and tried what I felt was a bolder color palette than many of the other images I painted for the story. Even though the palette included the same triad of colors as the illustration that opened "The Girl Who Writes the Future," the way I used them was a little less conventional. The swath of bright orange-yellow against violet could have been a disaster, but luckily it gave me the magical look I wanted. My art director and I worked hard to find room for this illustration in the space allotted for the final chapter, and I'm glad we were able to squeeze it in. It turned out to be one of my favorites. I hope that when readers look at this picture they feel the same satisfaction, relief and triumph Fable and Luminè do at the end of their adventure.

Luminè and Fable, exhausted but triumphant after completing their quest.

I write frequently about my creative process and I thought anyone reading this might like to hear about the creative process from the perspective of a writer. Frederic S. Durbin, author of "The Girl Who Writes the Future," shared his insights about the development of the story on his blog. He also wrote about the interesting relationship between authors and their characters here. I really enjoyed his posts and I hope you will, too!

Friday, June 5, 2015


The original sketch

I just lost a lengthy blog post I was planning to publish today which I now have to rewrite entirely. So instead, here is an old drawing I recently came across while reviewing sketches I'm considering for inclusion in my new sketchbook. These mother and daughter gorgons are from the book A Practical Guide to Monsters. I've forgotten the reason why my art director felt the character should be younger, but I was asked to change the daughter from a teenager to a little girl.

The revised version

Monday, June 1, 2015

Artist Privilege

"Being crazy...that's the privilege of being an artist."

From Overheard at the Museum by Judith Henry.