Here is the 24″x36″ oil painting for the wrap-around cover of the 2012 edition of the TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES picture book, which took around five weeks to finish. I wanted to revisit my favorite scene from the story of the princesses traveling through the Golden Wood.
THE GOLDEN WOOD – FROM SKETCH TO FINISH
– a painting in progress from The Twelve Dancing Princesses
It took me three days to photograph the models for this book. For this painting alone I probably took over 50 pictures, taking them in small groups of two and three. Also, a number of the models posed for two princesses each, changing clothes to become a different princess. It was complicated to keep track of it all!
Here is the final sketch in the book dummy, 11×17 inches. The notes are notes on the colors for the various dresses. The scene in the story of the golden wood was the one I wanted to “key” the rest of the book to, so the color scheme is quite golden, with a bit of green and a touch of blue, but no bright colors to compete with the magical “golden” feel of the scene.
oil on stretched canvas.
FALL FAERIE – FROM SKETCH TO FINISH
Here are my first two “idea” sketches for a painting depicting a “spirit of Fall” as a fairy.
A daughter of a friend of mine posed for the fairy and I took photos for reference.
Next I did a detailed drawing on my gessoed board – the picture is 24×36 inches. I do like to precisely plan my paintings when there is so much detail I want to convey.
Here is is after day2 with a bit more detail. I wanted to paint the background around the fairy and work out the complex value patterns.
And it took around three weeks to get to this stage – not quite done.
Finally after a good month or a little longer, the painting is finished! To work in this style requires a great deal of patience, as you might imagine.
Here is the cover of the first story in the Horse Diaries series, released in April of 2009. This is an exciting new series being published by Random House, with each book told from a different horse’s point of view. Each is a different breed, set in an interesting historic setting.
The first book in the series is a story of an Icelandic horse set during the Viking age in Iceland in the year 1000. I had to do a geat deal of research on Viking clothing, houses, and the landscape of Iceland.
The horses that posed for the book are from Robert’s Woods Farm in Morterey, Massachusetts.
Here is the first sketch of the scene that I took the above photos for.
These are the reference photos for one of the scenes in the story, depicted below. I always use real people and I had costumes made for the boys and the girl in the story. I had to take the pictures in winter because of the publisher’s schedule, but most of the scenes in the book are in the spring and fall, so there is not much snow in the illustrations. This was the most complicated scene in the book, and because it was winter and my models lived in different places, I had to take the pictures at differnt times and then draw them all into the same scene.
This is the sketch for the scene based on all the photos above – usually I don’t do quite this detailed a sketch, but the art director requested “finished” looking sketches as they wanted to show a mock-up of the book to the sales force to show them what it would look like.
For all my picture books, I start with a storyboard, which is the entire story on one page – 14″x20″ or so. I often do more than one version, and sometimes cut and paste new sketches over ones I change my mind about. This is the most important stage of the story and where one decides the key scenes, the flow of the book, the page-turns, etc. After this process, which can take a few weeks to a month or more, depending on the book, I start gathering reference materials and find models for the characters in the book. The storyboard above is from Cinderella, and the pictures on the right are a few of my reference pictures for the cover image. I also found pictures in my files of ivy-covered walls, roses, and flying birds.
Here is a closeup of the cover sketch, showing that I don’t just copy my photo reference, but use it as a base for my own imagination.
And here is the final cover, which “wraps” around to the back of the book.
The Enchanted Wood
These trees were some of my inspiration for “the Heart of the World,” the great tree in the Enchanted Wood.
Here is the final illustration.
The Crystal Mountain
Here is my photo reference and the finished sketch for this scene from The Crystal Mountain.
And here is the finished painting. This one took 2-3 weeks.