A few months ago Scholastic asked if I would illustrate the cover for the second book by award-winning author Wendy Wan-Long Shang. You might remember that I did the cover for her previous book: The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. This book is for the same pre-teen audience and is about twelve-year-old Peter Lee and his family, who are baseball lovers. Their family experiences tragedy and Peter wonders if their favorite game can pull them back together.
Here is the cover in context:
And here are the concept sketches I pitched:
If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, you might have noticed I’m obsessed with leaves right now. Tis the season, I guess. I don’t know why, but I walk outside and instantly get lots of ideas to try out. It’s been great, and I’m not complaining. Fall is my favorite season, and I think it’s such a creative time with so much change happening quickly. Makes me want to work fast to see what happens if I just keep exploring.
Also, I got new boots. And while this seems like a wildly out-of-the-blue thing to note, I’ve been crunching around the leaves in my new boots and another idea came to me, leading to the illustration you see below.
I thought it’d be fun to capture the feeling of autumn crispness and color (along with my new boots, of course) in a graphic, painterly approach. I’ve also thinking about working up some pattern ideas. And that thought snuck in here, too.
Hope you like it!
acrylic, monoprint and digital
My weekend shenanigans included going for a walk and discovering leaves that looked like stars. I gathered a bunch up and had the idea to take some photos that looked like a night sky, but couldn’t think of how I’d get a large enough background without using massive amounts of ink or paint. But as I walked back home I thought: my driveway is black — that might work!
So I set about arranging my night sky on my driveway. I started with this shot:
And then arranged them into a circle pattern:
And then had the idea of taking it further by creating a constellation. Out comes the large ladder and, after a few trial shots, I had a decent photo to work with. I went inside to the studio, drew some line work to place on top and voila! — We have Orion.
Colin even got out the film camera and got a few shots. I can’t wait to process those and see what they captured…
I’ve been exploring some abstract ideas in the studio lately, experimenting with color and texture and shape. At this point, I think they are stepping stones for more work – I have lots of ideas to play with. But I wanted to document them as process before I potentially paint over them.
So if you read this post you know that I recently had a little awakening that opened my eyes to some limitations I’d been needlessly been placing on myself in my work. After realizing this I couldn’t wait to get into the studio to push past those limits and see what I could do. I played the “what if” game… What if I tried this? What if I didn’t do this same line work for this piece? What if I experimented with that? In other words, I played more.
Part of that playing yielded this new print – a whole new arena in prints for me: typographic. I hand-lettered this and thought… oh yes! I’d surely hang this in my house. And heck, some other people might too. Let’s not overthink this and just launch it. (A hard thing because I have an honorary doctorate in overthinking…)
Long story short — I’m really excited to share this new print with you! This is my first lettering print (but hopefully one of many!). It’s 11×17 (fits standard frames to make it easy) and available in blue, yellow or pink. You choose at checkout. :)
I love that this print could be for your sweetheart, or it would look great in a kid’s room, too!
I hope you like it! You can see a bigger pic and get one for yourself here.