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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.
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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.

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prints for sale

Following some queries as to if I’d sell prints of some of my illustrations, I’m giving INPRNT.com a try. The following illustrations are now available as gallery-quality giclée prints on 100% cotton rag archival paper, printed with archival inks.

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Time Escapes, from Catching Time | 22×10 inches


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Lilies & Koi, from Dream Boats |  22×9 inches


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Starfishing, from Dream Boats |  22×9 inches

new book beginnings ~ db

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Dream Boats is on shelves now

So Dream Boats has now arrived in stores in both Canada and the U.S, and has had some very nice write ups  from booksellers, which is pretty thrilling, like this one from Brookline Booksmith in Massachusetts :

“I don’t have naps. I have adventures.”

That is the first line in Dream Boats, and once you turn from that first page you understand that anything can happen when you close your eyes. But maybe keep them open so you can see the pretty pictures. Are they ever pretty! Each spread is a kaleidoscope of imagery, as our dreamer’s imagination strings together surreal scenarios: aboard a fishing boat heading to Mumbai, poling down the Niger River, sailing into St. Petersburg, …there is not an inch of this book that isn’t a treat for the eye.

Also, Dream Boats is featured in the Winter 2013 Mountains and Plains Independent Book Sellers Association catalog, which is super cool! So if you’re looking for an independent bookstore in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming, here is a very handy list.

 

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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.

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new book beginnings ~ db

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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.

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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.

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new book beginnings ~ db

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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.

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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.

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new book beginnings ~ db

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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…

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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.

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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]).

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Early (rejected) cover illustration sketch

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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.


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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.

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The Walking Read – a literary themed event in support of BC Children’s Hospital

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Looking for something special to do next Friday?

CWILL BC is celebrating their 20th year, and is putting on a gala event to not only honour this impressive anniversary, but to raise money for BC Children’s Hospital at the same time.

The Walking Read event is open to all (who are of legal drinking age), and will be an evening full of food, fun, and live music.


DETAILS

Tickets are $60 (+ applicable taxes), and include:

  • food
  • drink (including the alcoholic kind)
  • live entertainment  by Gale Force Blues Band, Nancy Newman Jazz Trio, and Xray Ted
  • parking
  • a silent auction
  • PLUS all attendees will walk away at the end of the evening with a swag bag worth, I’m told, $40.

Friday, June 14, 2013
7 pm – 11 pm
Open Road Lexus
5631 Parkwood Way
Richmond, BC

Eventbrite - The Walking Read
note: tickets are NOT sold at the door

DRESS THE PART

The event is also costume gala (although if you’re shy, you could come as yourself!) – Attendees are encouraged to dress as their favourite literary character from a children’s book (could be YA too, if the Velveteen Rabbit just isn’t you….Nancy Drew, a Hardy Boy?)

If you come in costume, you’re eligible for a prize:

  • Best Costume from a Children’s Book
  • Best Costume from a Canadian Children’s Book
  • Best Costume from a CWILL B.C. member’s Book (tip: find a list that includes a lot of CWILL BC member’s books here, or take a look through the bios of CWILL BC authors & illustrators)

SILENT and ONLINE AUCTION

Generous sponsors have donated a huge variety of very wonderful items for the silent auction – including bikes, designer clothing, JRR Tolkien collector’s editions books, hotel stays, scotch, original artwork, laptops etc, etc. (The whole list is here).

bonus: If you can’t make it out for the event, but are still interested in supporting the cause, CWILL BC has posted a small number of auction items on a limited-time online auction (ends at noon on June 13th): bike, books, bed & breakfasts packages, original kids’ book art etc…. (Highest bid between the online auction, and the silent auction at the event wins.)

FINAL NOTES

There are no paid staff or event planners. All net proceeds will go to the BC Children’s Hospital foundation.

new book beginnings ~ db

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So flickr has made some major changes… I’ve been too busy to have a proper look yet, but I really do like some of the updates, such as the gallery layout (pictured above). I’m really not fussy over the slideshow with the annoying pan and zoom stuff – it certainly no longer works for the purpose I was using it for, but haven’t had enough time to look into if that can be manual adjusted or not. (EDIT: ah hah! ! found the way around that horrible powerpoint-like slideshow!) More importantly, their changes have broken all my slideshow links, which means I now have to go back through about 100 posts and update everything. sigh. 

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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.

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