These days my life revolves around working on my own stories as an author-illustrator. It requires tons of sketching, thinking, and writing behind the scenes. So, there's not much I can share at the moment. Everything is either in development stage, revision stage, or being considered! stage.
It's always fun to take a break and play with watercolor and to set little challenges for myself.
The challenge for these two sketches was different atmosphere/lighting conditions.
While waiting for some answers on my other stories, it's time to start working on a new story with some old characters (thinking of a snow story in summer). Love the beginning stages of the project when anything is possible. You don't need to worry about page turns, word count, character development and all that good stuff. You just doodle and scribble and let it all unfold whichever way.
Glad to be at this point in my career! Meeting my agent Sean McCarthy for the first time (we started working together in December) for lunch in between appointments he organized. Sean sees a big picture, breaks things down for me and believes in my work. After years of doing everything on my own: networking, promotion, knocking on many doors (and windows), it’s exciting to have such a smart and caring individual do it with you and for you. Really grateful to the editors and art directors for taking the time to look at my work and giving me some great feedback and discussing all kinds of different directions I can take with my work. Appointments brought interest, questions, encouragement and inspiration. It was surprising to me that the feedback was really quite consistent. The editors and art directors liked: 1. looser, painterly style 2. fabric collage style
3. responded to most of my characters/stories (DOCTOR, SNOW STORY, SPOTS) in my portfolio and would like to see complete stories. All stories are in progress! For years I was trying to figure out the balance between the character consistency and looseness of the style. Really obsessing about it. Based on the feedback I received in this round of NY appointments: it's really good to have a looser style and not worry about being so super exact and consistent. If the nose on the critter is a bit longer and a bit narrower than in previous illustrations, but there is energy, emotion, SURPRISE, it's all good! Well. I am really glad to hear that. Because I absolutely love watercolor and how slightly (or not so slightly) unpredictable it is! Especially the linework you can have with watercolor+brush - so fresh and full of energy, not always predictable. LOVE. All the surprises, accidents, color mixing options watercolor has to offer! Fabric collage is quite appealing to me as well. I am playing with it, trying different balance between collage and watercolor, how much emotion of the character I can convey just in collage form and how much in collage + watercolor. For me experimenting is one of the funnest things in illustration! Working on my own dummy books is exciting, but time consuming. The good thing is that the more I do it and get feedback on my dummies, the better my story-telling abilities become and less time is lost in trying things that don't work. Still tons to learn and figure out, but I am enjoying the process for the most part. There is frustration as well, feeling that you wasted days or even weeks going left or backward instead of forward, but it's part of the PROCESS. So here you go. Time spent on the story (even if it's not going in the right direction) is still the time spent on the story. One of the best way to learn is by making your own mistakes! Really quite excited to get back to working on my characters, stories, painting and experimenting! Few things are happening behind the scenes that I cannot share at this point, but hopefully soon. Based on the interest and feedback, I broke down my work into several categories (a lot of these images can be in several categories at the same time): 1. looser, painterly style 2. fabric collage style 3. animals 3. younger kids 4. older kids
When painting my owl I set several fun challenges for myself.
I really wanted my owl to be in its environment, so I decided on the owl at dawn overlooking the forest.
The other challenge was to figure out the best way to combine a flat, decorative technique of the owl with a painterly technique of the environment. It was a lot of fun painting the foggy dawn air. The trick was to use many thin layers and to make sure that nothing in the background is well-defined. My ornate and colorful owl really stood out against this soft, understated background.
I used watercolor on soft-press Fabriano watercolor paper to create this illustration.
Honorable Mention for 3X3 Magazine's Competition, Picture Book
Show! Many years of entering this competition and I finally got in! Images
submitted – 3 pieces from “Sophie’s Animal Parade” written Amy Dixon,
illustrated by me.