One of the great joys of children's book illustration is, of course, the secrecy.
I don't know about you, but I'm terrible at keeping secrets. This isn't to say I can't keep them, it's more that I'm not smooth in any way about keeping them. My poker face is terrible, and I wander around my day twitching a mumbling, and generally feeling like a pinless grenade.
In the case of picture books, there's this six month to year long period of planning, drawing, and painting during which (near) radio silence is customarily reserved, followed by another year before the book in question hits the shelves, real three dimensional inventoried shelves or futuristic/imaginary cybershelves. This quiet time leaves plenty of room for hand wringing, regrets, quiet self defeatism and the occasional brag-that-never-can-be.
Since I'm in the middle of one those such projects right now, it gives me great pleasure to break the previous year's silence and mention this biography of Robbie Robertson I finished illustrating a few months back, penned by his son Sebastian Robertson and set for publication by the great Christie Ottaviano's eponymous imprint of HOLT.
It won't be hitting those previously mentioned shelves till Fall of 2014, but there's no harm in pre-ordering...
Well, that happened all of a sudden. Aside from the usual "where did Spring go?" business, June also means I can finally talk about how I spent my winter. Whew.
As it turns out, I spent a stretch of it on a new collaboration with two-time Grammy winning singer/songwriter/storyteller Bill Harley:
A brief synopsis in the words of Peachtree Publishers:
Shortly before school starts, Charlie Bumpers learns that he will have
the strictest teacher in the whole school for fourth grade. It doesn't
matter that she's been named Teacher of the Year. He s still afraid of
her. Last year when he was horsing around in the hall, he accidentally
hit her in the head with his sneaker (don t ask). How will he survive a
year under a teacher who is just waiting for him to make another stupid
Telling you anything beyond that would be violation of all sorts of illustrator ethics. And yes, illustrators do have ethics. I'm just not going to tell you where we keep them.
I will tell you, however, that Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year is the downright funny and genuinely heartwarming first book in an upcoming series, is available for pre-order now for September delivery, and contains some of the following people doing some of the following things.
Really, they'd be more aptly labeled the "economical" or "versatile" demos.
This little feller, for instance, started life out as a still life demo, specifically a still life of a pear. He went on to find employment as a skin tone mixing demo, whereupon he found himself sitting in the midst of a cloud demo which soon developed into a landscape demo. You see? He's not that weird after all.
Up next is François the Impressionist Man Boy. He began life as a demo on the proportions of a child, but several months later reappeared to assist in a demo about skin tone mixing techniques and lighting on facial hair. I'd like to say that, like pear man above, he's marked more by versatility than sheer weirdness, but no, he's weird. Like, don't-make-eye-contact-with-him weird.
That's it for the oddities. We're now up to some academic nudes, rendered in pencil and white gouache on toned paper. Various sizes.
Some one hour oil painting demos. These are all completed on either canvas or primed paper, between 11" x 14" and 13" x 19".
And these last two chaps are little one hour demonstrations of what we in illustration affectionately refer to as "the C. F. Payne technique," though it has been used pretty broadly by Mark English and others as well, and to remarkably different effect.
Demo Guy is one of the world's more unsung supervillains, if such a phrase exists. His only known superpower is a seemingly limitless supply of patience, which is of surprisingly little use in the superhero arena. As a supervillain, though, he has essentially donated his body to the whims of other villains as they work out the kinks in their freeze rays, paralyzing gazes, or—in this case—updates in their makeup regimes.