Book Sneak Peek ~ Finished, Packed and Shipped

Finished illustrations - on stretchers
Finished canvases still on the stretcher bars.

Early in July I finished the illustrations for my latest children’s picture book project Catching Time, written by Rachna Gilmore (Red Deer Press, Spring 2008). The illustrations were finally packed up and shipped out yesterday.

It’s been a long process. This is what my studio, and the weather, looked like at the beginning of the painting part of the project (in November ’06)…

…and this is what it looked like at the end (July ’07).

Finished illustrations
Canvas cut off the stretcher bars and ready for shipping.

I’ll post more photos of the illustrations, as well as photos of the illustration process once the book is out.

After about 2 1/2 years of book work, peppered with other projects slotted in here and there, I’m officially on my kid’s book illustration break for a while and it feels really, really good. While I’m book burnt-out, I’m not yet painting burnt-out and will be trying to find a few days here and there to get busy on some of my own work.


Book Sneak Peek ~ Draw, Redraw, Paint, Redraw

Draw, Redraw, paint, redraw

A lot of reworking goes on at various stages of the illustration process. If I’m working in oil, it happens a lot during the painting process. If it bugs me, it gets scribbled over until it bugs me a little less. It’s inevitable that some things will never be quite right – but there’s a printing schedule to adhere to so stuff has to be pried out of my hands and shipped out the door at some point.

The colours in this photo are a bit grey. It’s a much cheerier palette in person. Let’s hope that comes through in the final scans.

This is another detail from a page in the current book-in-progress.


Finding ‘That Thing’

Paint Rags (2)

I’m in the last week and a half of a deadline for a book I’ve been working on for ages. I’m spent. I’ve been painting every day for what seems like an eternity but is actually only 2 and a half months (for this project at least). Before that it was months of drawings and before that other projects and other books.

Some days are good painting days. Yesterday it was a good painting day. It was also a sunny, beautiful and even warm day. The window was open, the birds were singing and the light in the studio was perfect. Everything worked. Today it is grey, there is a light rain and painting is painfully slow. I’ve lost that little thread of inspiration. Nothing seems to connect right. It probably doesn’t help that I stayed up late watching Blade Runner on tv last night.

While I’m itching to be finished with this final project and have my life back for a while, I’m still looking forward to tackling my own paintings. I’m not completely tapped out. In fact, the more exhausted I get working on this project, the more excited I get about dragging the 5 big canvases out of the garage and tackling a series I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I don’t want to make it seem that this project isn’t enjoyable. It is. There are bits that are really exciting. Part of the enjoyment comes when I’m working on a composition that I haven’t solved entirely in the sketches. It’s fun when it comes together under my brush. Almost every illustration has something in it, that thing that captures my interest. I just have to dig into it to find it, otherwise I just feel like I’m filling in space with paint. Yesterday that thing was the way the scene in the illustration was lit. Our house was filled with low, gold February light and shadows cast by plants and furniture. Borrowing some of the light and the shadows cast by our bird of paradise plant on our dining room floor, I painted the shapes into the background of the illustration. Without connection to the piece, I feel like I’m just going through the motions and then the work feels empty.