HORSE RESCUE: TREASURE is the first in a series of horse stories inspired by real horses and horse rescue facilities. TREASURE was written by my daughter, Whitney, who is the author of two books in the Random House HORSE DIARIES series–GOLDEN SUN and DARCY, which I illustrated.
A few summers ago Whitney volunteered at Little Brook Farm in Old Chatham NY, the oldest horse rescue facility in the US. She was greatly impressed by their work, especially the theraputic riding, and the field-trip programs for urban schools. Whitney decided to write a book inspired by the horses there. Like the HORSE DIARIES, this story is told from the horse's point of view.
I was pleased to create the cover illustration for the project, based on a photo of the horse that inspired the story. Whitney generously plans to donate half her proceeds to Little Brook Farm. I encouraged her to publish using Create Space, the Amazon self-publishing arm, so she can control the price and also print books inexpensively for the farm to sell.
If you'd like a poignant read for yourself or a young horse lover, and would like to help support horses in need, here is the link to ORDER THE BOOK.
NOTE: If you purchase TREASURE on Amazon along with either of her other books, DARCY and GOLDEN SUN, which I illustrated, people who buy those on Amazon in the future will see TREASURE listed and more people will find out about it. Since this is self-published, that and social media/word of mouth will be the best ways for people to find out the book exists.
If you are interested in a digital copy --- Here is a link to a Kindle version.
In 1977 I painted the very first paperback cover for the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. These were my favorite books growing up, along with fairy tales, of course. I was thrilled to meet Mr. Farley in New York at the publisher's office at Random House, and he offered to take me to the racetrack to do research and take photos. I was right out of art school and very shy, and I regret to this day I never took him up on the offer.
For fans of the Black, I offer limited editions prints of this iconic picture in the Prints section of my Shops, and I've just added a $20 high-gloss poster on my CafePress Store.
This is lovely little holiday story for horse lovers–a Random House Special Edition.
The story, set in 1917, is about Horse Power vs the Model T. The horse and sleigh come to the rescue during a snowstorm on Christmas eve.
I had fun illustrating the story, as well as some "extras," like a how-to-draw-horses section. When I was growing up, the Walter Foster book on drawing horses was my favorite. I even held a Saturday morning class in fourth grade for my friends and taught them how to draw horses, too.
A few years back I took some photos of my daughter at an old mill where I had a studio. I've been wanting to do a scratchboard piece of this for years, and finally did it! The shadow of leaves on the wall is my addition.
I have just added four VERY limited quantity hardcover picture books to my SHOP: MOTHER GOOSE AND FRIENDS, GOLDILOCKS, THE CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, and THE ENCHANTED WOOD. These are now all out of print.
I am happy to share the process for creating the cover illustration of my upcoming book A CASTLE FULL OF CATS, due to be released in early 2015. Yes, it takes almost a year for a publisher to produce a book after the artwork is delivered. I'll be doing lots of sneak previews during the year.
As you can see from my initial storyboard sketch, I envisioned the cover as a view looking out a window with cats watching the outdoor activities from the inside of the castle.
At the next stage, I created a more detailed cover sketch to focus on the queen's "favorite" cat. I also depicted the cats and kittens in a much more active and playful role, indicating the queen and the king outside in the garden. And, I played with how the title of the book might fit on the cover illustration.
In the final cover sketch, I brought the queen's cat closer to the center and looking directly at the reader while still allowing the queen and king to be seen through the window.
In creating the finished illustration for the cover, I wanted the window to really stand out, so I created a maroon wall in the background, actually painting it in acrylic over the watercolor painting to get a really solid effect, and because a dark, even color is so hard to create in watercolor! When I submitted the illustration, the editor and art director felt that it was too dark...
and suggested I make the wall pink...On the left is the revised cover, with the pink wall painted in acrylic on top of the maroon color. Yes, it was very time-consuming to paint around all those details. But we are not done yet! After giving the art to the designer, problems arose..
A note—The marketing folks asked that the title be changed. I coined the word "Castleful," to indicate there were a ton of cats in the castle, and am very proud of it, but apparently anyone searching for a book with "castle" in the title would not find my book, so we had to split my word to "Castle Full." Inside the book it is still "castleful," read as one word, like "spoonful."
The designer was having a very hard time making the type stand out against the background. The art directer even photoshopped the curtains to make it simpler, but is just looked too busy. When she and the editor approached me about making yet more changes, and major ones, to the artwork, I agreed that they were right. The cover was simply too busy, as you can see. I had to fix it!
I started with the full size digital image of the cover, because changing to a blue wall would not be easy. I really did not want to put a third coat of acrylic paint on that wall! SO, I started in Photoshop with my pink cover image. I duplicated the image as another layer and changed the whole picture to blue, and then painstakingly worked to combine the two layers into one. I painted a new window with a single sheer curtain in watercolor, below, no king and queen, and Photoshopped it in, so the type will hopefully read nicely on top of it.
Above is the final image with the blue wall. This final (I hope!) cover image is back with the designer. I am a bit sad that the king and queen can't be seen outside, but feel the title reading well was the most important concern. And the cats are the stars of the book.
A week later....here is the (almost) final cover design. I love the new typeface the art director chose. Note the kitten kicking the word "of" in the title! The type color is still under discussion, but this is VERY close!
Below is a color option the art director and editor prefer: