new book beginnings ~ db

photo 5-1


Mountains & Plains Winter Catalog.

Dream Boats is the featured book in this winter’s 300,000 copies of the Mountains and Plains Independent Book Sellers Association Winter catalog. It’s on the cover, and a few little vignettes made their way into the inside of the catalog as well.

Mountains & Plains is an almost 40 year old non-profit professional association of locally-owned bookstores, booksellers, and industry professionals. Wherever you are, please support your local, independent bookstore this holiday season. If you happen to be in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming, there is a list of store locations on the MPIBA website.

photo 2

My favourite Vancouver bookstore is Kidsbooks (Kitsilano, South Surrey, and Edgemont Village, North Vancouver). Their staff is incredibly knowledgable, and the are wonderful advocates for local authors and illustrators, and for great books for kids (and teens)…and they even have a few for adults!

.

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 12.22.22 PM


Dream Boats is a 2014 Recommended Read.

Dream Boats made the 2014 Canadian Toy Testing Council’s list of recommended reads for the age group 5+.


Also, this is going on until the end of November: agbd-logo

A Good Book Drive is an annual book drive to bring stories to a new generation of readers, and support kids in need of new books.

Running through the month of November, A Good Book Drive will be inspiring Vancouverites to purchase a new copy of their favorite kids’ book and deliver it to set locations throughout the city to be donated to this year’s book drive recipient.

– read more and find out how you can participate, on the A Good Book Drive website
.

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

IMG_4017_ella


Featured Reader Art & Event Reminder.

This fantastic dream vessel, rendered in marker and ballpoint pen, is courtesy of 7-year-old avid reader, Ella. Thank you very much, Ella!

IMG_4018_ella

Also, a quick reminder that I’ll be at Village Books in Bellingham on October 5, 11am for an illustrator Q&A, beginning with a short talk on illustration. Not sure yet what I’ll talk about yet – maybe about influences and inspiration, style (or lack of), or that I learned the most important thing about creating art, not from art school, but from my grandmother when I was 5 years old. Or maybe why I chose to illustrate this book the way I did, and the challenges I encountered along the way… Bring your questions!

Night_progress_sm

.

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

IMG_3397_sm_800


Cover Out in Portland

I’m just back from a fantastic, restful camping trip on the beautiful Oregon Coast (see photo above), ending  with a 2 night Portland stop-over (in a hotel – which, in my opinion, is the best way to end a camping trip).

While we managed to squeeze the camping into the dry days, our city visit was a little wet. One day, we ducked into Powell’s Books to avoid a downpour and I discovered something familiar in the children’s section:

photo 5

photo 4

I also found these and the illustrations were just so beautiful that I couldn’t very well leave them behind…

IMG_4012_sm

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman, is Illustrated by Rick Allen in many-layered lino prints, and is rich in colour and texture. The night scenes are vibrant and lively, and cheerfully coloured. A Monster Calls, written Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay, is equally exciting for its lack of colour and wonderful deep, dark spookiness;  it is the kind of book that I was thrilled to read as a 12-year old.

Just look at this great composition and this lovely figure, so beautifully drawn.

IMG_4011_sm

A Monster Calls also has the added bonus of being nicely designed, and does a fine job tying in a lot of great texture-rich sketchy vignettes and scuff marks.

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

DB_Village_Books


Upcoming Illustrator Visit at Village Books

I’ll be at the lovely Village Books in Bellingham on October 5, 11am for an illustrator Q&A. Curious about the illustrations in Dream Boats? Curious about my book illustration process? Come on by and ask me some questions. (Or if you just want a book signed, I can do that too): 1200 11th Street, Bellingham, WA.
.

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

Booklaunch_duo


We’ve launched!

Wow! Thank you to everyone one who came to the launch last night, asked me great questions, and helped buy out the Lyceum’s entire stock of Dream Boats books. And thank you to everyone one who is patently waiting for the book you ordered to get to you – Dan and I will sign them as soon as we get them! And thank you to all the little kids who came, and folded paper boats, and helped launch the book with us. 

And also, a big thank you to the Lyceum staff who put on yet another wonderful event complete with food, drink, and a paper boat folding station! We are fortunate to have such a champion of children’s literature in our neighbourhood.

And also to my publisher, Simply Read Books, who let me get creative with this book.

IMG_2193

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

Dream Boats - water 1


Water, it’s a tricky thing.

excerpt from Dream Boats:

Water is memory; water is dreams.
Clear or mirror, deep as sleep,
water flows inward and Dream Boats follow.
Take me, Dream Boat, and show me everything I know.

This recent post on the blog Illustration Art not only includes example of how some of my favourite illustrators and painters handled the tricky subject of water, but it is also a rather timely post. I’ve been thinking about water and how to paint it for a really long time, having spent most of 4 years trying to figure out the best ways to render it in the illustrations of Dream Boats. It’s a central theme in the book and main element within the text.

I made a decision really early in the concepts not to ground the book in the terrestrial realm. It is a book about dreams, after all; anything can happen. So I took the characters up into space, I floated them on muddy rivers, on canals that changed between pages from window glass-clear to looking glass-reflective, through misty trees, and roiling oceans, and in the sky above oxbow rivers, frozen seas, and the deltas where the rivers of Iceland meet the sea.

Wherever the boats went, it was important that water was present, somehow. Up in space, water is represented in the blue surface of the earth, in the flow of the composition, and in the creatures that drift among the masts and oars of the boats; moon jellies, lookdown fish (chosen for their flowing fins and similarity to the Atlantic moonfish), radiolarian (rendered in gigantic proportion). The result is the boats might just as easily be thought to be drifting beneath the surface of the oceans, as above it. And so water becomes portal to other worlds, as much as a conduit to adventure.

Practically, the representation of water became tricky when the ocean, seen from above on one page, became the sky on the next page, and then a storm tossed sea transformed into a snow covered landscape.

Ganesha to Baba Yaga - 4 page spreads

Continuity is exceedingly important in a picture book. But how do you deal with that when your character can at once rise up in all manner of rolling forms, break itself into white foam, and burn the colour of a blazing sunset, at at another be as clear and flat as a pane of glass, or turn the colour of a blue summer sky?

Inspiration was drawn equally from Hiroshige’s flat, graphic representation of bodies of water, the natural bloom of ink on a wet piece of watercolour paper, and the photographs I’ve taken of rivers and oceans from a plane over Iceland, the Arctic, and Northern B.C.

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

DB_luanch_horiz

(click to see bigger)


Book launch reminder – join us tomorrow night!

Dan and I are dusting off our launch hats; he’s readying his reading voice, and we’re both quelling jitters for our Dream Boats launch tomorrow night.
There will be some paper boats, refreshments, a Q&A, and reading. And Dan and I with our autograph pens. However, Dan has been clear there will be no pony rides, reindeer, bears, or llamas, so do not expect to find any of those sharing the stage with us tomorrow night, except for on the pages of our very-ready-to-launch book. Probably for the best – I know for a fact Christianne likes to keep the Lyceum floor clean, and reindeer are hard to come by at this time of year.

It all goes down on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art, 3696 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver. (Corner of Alma & 8th)

A bit more of a look at what’s between the covers…

.

DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.

new book beginnings ~ db

Dream Boats


On the Cover

Dream Boats deliberately does not have a dust jacket. It seems opinions are very split on book jackets. Some people love them, some people remove them immediately, shove them in a drawer, recycle them, or pin them up as wall art. At the beginning of the book process I had a nebulous idea of the cover but I had a definite idea about a jacket; I didn’t want one. A big part of my reasoning was my desire to cut down on excessive paper use, especially as this book is longer than the average picture book at 40 pages, the other was that a jacket didn’t fit with the idea I had for the feel of the book.

Covers are an incredibly challenging part of the book. Sometimes a cover uses an interior illustration, and often because a cover image is required really early in the process for marketing purposes, the cover is created first, before all the other artwork – which usually means before the illustrator has had time to really spend time figuring out the the illustrations as a whole, and that can result in cover art that looks stylistically different from the interior artwork. This cover took some figuring out; it wasn’t going to work to use an interior illustration, because the book is full of different stories, about different individuals. Additionally, I knew I couldn’t use one character from within the book, because the book is full of a variety of characters and I also wanted to keep the narrative voice that flows through the book as open as possible to allow a child-listener or reader to inhabit the story as that character. I toyed with the idea of showing a number of boats, with the children left somewhat indistinct, but that didn’t feel right either (plus marketing deemed it too scary [as an aside – I would truly love to illustrate a scary book]).

Picture 3

Early (rejected) cover illustration sketch

Picture 7
Early (rejected) cover illustration mockup 

Partway through the illustration process I decided to include a folded boat that would appear on all the narrated pages (more on the narrated pages vs story pages in a later post). In the dreamscapes this boat it is brightly collaged. I decided this was the object-character that needed to be on the cover, and by including a fanciful reflection (or an upside-down glimpse into another world), I could hint at the dreams and magic inside. Additionally, water is an important element within the text, it appears as raindrops, oceans, and rivers, so it also needed to be prominently featured on the cover.

The interior illustrations start off quite quietly and build to depictions of densely detailed dreams and adventure, so I felt that a quieter, more contemplative cover was required. I didn’t want to give it all away on the cover.

Finally, I designed a varnish for the ‘reflected’ area, to further play up the feeling of water, reflections, or alternative veils of reality.


DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_var

This post is part of a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats (author Dan Bar-el, pub. Simply Read Books). The entire series of posts is archived here.

View a gallery of all the work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art at a much larger size, here.

.