Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SCBWI Bulletin

I'm very proud to have my illustration on the cover of the current SCBWI Bulletin (January/ February 2014). As always, the requirement is to include within the illustration an image of a kite — the logo of the SCBWI. 

I did a lot of searching and had a lot of different ideas (including giant children in Paris, and even an octopus flying eight kites at once). But once I saw the image of a butterfly-shaped kite, it was suddenly obvious to me that a caterpillar should be flying it. Perfect! Transformation, inspiration and imagination are what children's books are all about!! Now all I have to do is pull it off...
I sent along a few variations of this idea to SCBWI, and we all agreed on the one on the left so I then got to work. After refining the composition and characters, I did a number of color studies, like so:
Once the colors are decided, I can go on to the next steps. My illustrations are done in mixed media, with both hand-painted elements and collage in varying amounts (depending on the subject and on the amount of time). Some collage elements are prepared in advance according to the chosen color scheme, while others are happy accidents. This is true whether I collage with paper ephemera...
...or with monoprints that I make myself— here's a peek at a set of photos showing printmaking in progress.

Once I've printed the monoprint sheets in the colors that I'll be using, then I begin cutting and gluing.  I usually start with the background—
And then I create the characters and foreground elements.  Here's our hero...

...and his faithful sidekick:
As you can see, the individual elements that make up a character (limbs, shoes, clothes, face, hair...) are created separately then assembled. I paint some of the details with acrylics and, after I've glued them all together, I go over it again with an oil glaze to add a bit of dimension and oomph. Sometimes I scratch back in — sgraffito — or even sandpaper it, until it resembles what I have in my mind's eye as much as possible.  Needless to say, it's not an exact science...

Finally, referring to my color study, I assemble the composition as a whole — first gluing the background elements then the foreground ones. In this particular illustration, there was a lot of foreground foliage which framed the image. Some were collaged, and some painted in india ink.  Here's the finished piece:

PS.  If you're a SCBWI member, you can view the Bulletin online right here. It even includes an interview with yours truly in it!


  1. i love this! and thank you for sharing your process. would you mind telling me what kind of paper and glue/paste do you use? i love collage and have tried it many times but failed miserably...

    1. Alik, I could give a mini-dissertation on this but the short answer is it depends on which materials you use together -- paper thicknesses and textures all seem to require different glues and methods of assembling. I'll pop back when I can with a better answer, but in the meantime: TRIAL AND ERROR!

  2. This is a lovely piece, and I appreciate getting a glimpse into your process. I think I am an art voyeur! :)

    1. Thanks Sharmon! I think we're all art voyeurs to some extent... :-))

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Julie— I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. I met you at SCBWI -LA and instantly recognized your art for the SCBWI bulletin. Love this and thanks so much for sharing your process. You've got your niche! Inventive, original, & lovely!

  5. Hi again, Sharalyn — thank you so much!


So... what do you think?