"Do you do illustrations for books?" was a question I got early last week, so I wanted to take a trip down memory lane when it comes to creating illustrations. With all that is still going on in the world, I've taken to doing more digital drawing as a familiar coping mechanism lately since mostly moving away from chalk lettering. It had been a while since I drew regularly, but getting back to it has been a relief and something I look forward to daily.
The first book illustration I ever tried was for a book cover design for a project my father published entitled Escape. I remember him giving me a synopsis of what he was writing about and asking me to draw something. At that time, I sketched it on paper with pencil and shared it with him, but the drawing didn't go much further than that. Eventually, and I'm not sure how much later it was... there was a second book that is available online via Amazon/Kindle that I did a watercolor design for and then used as a project to learn how to make vector art using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I wrote about falling in love with that process in one of my first-ever blog posts here seven years ago.
That was only the beginning, and I had no idea that I would create illustrations for three different author's projects some years after that. I haven't seen any of these author's books as finished, printed products yet, unfortunately, but learned a lot with these early illustration works that I still use today. Read on for more about my first few storybook projects!
2016 Illustrations for Kevin Norman's book Golden
I met Kevin while attending a Valentine's event with my good friend Alicia in 2014. The singer Marcus Canty was having a concert at a venue in Fayetteville, and Kev was its host. We became cordial over the years and even casually dated before realizing it wasn't going to work out between us, but were able to collaborate on a few cool projects in that season.
One of those projects was a children's book he wanted to release and he asked me to do the illustrations. It took some months of brainstorming and tweaking, but I completed the designs and sent them to him in June 2016. Since then, I haven't heard anything more about publishing the book, unfortunately, but the illustrations can be viewed in the slideshow below. My process was to 1) sketch, 2) ink the drawing and scan it into the computer, and 3) color and edit in Photoshop, then save save as a PDF.
Today is a Tuesday, and I feel a shift happening-- a transformation. Tomorrow will mark two weeks since I received a welcome to the Durham Arts Guild (DAG) Board of Directors, a two-year term that I will be serving as a board member. I am excited for the opportunity and cannot wait to see what the future holds.
Much time has passed since my last post, but I'll be sure to share what's been going on over the next few weeks for "Throwback Thursdays" and "Flashback Fridays". For now, I'd like to share some photos highlighting what the first two weeks of being a DAG Board Member has been like!
If you would like to become a member of the Durham Art Guild, please join! There is a membership drive underway, and anyone who signs up before June 23rd will receive a $10 discount.
On another note, international recording artist Iyanya from Nigeria is in the U.S. for his 2016 tour! He made his way to Farotage Nation Lounge on Saturday, June 11th and put on an excellent performance for his Carolina fans. This is what I heard... because I wasn't there. I was totally bummed knowing I'd miss the afrobeat star's energetic show because I wasn't in town. Little did I know, I was in for a pleasant surprise the following day.
As everyone engages in the typical back to school routines, I can only reflect on all the things still left to do with "Summer of Fun". No matter how close we are to the Labor Day weekend, the unofficial "end of summer", I have to mention that the season has a whole SIX weeks remaining. This summer was planned to include group paintball battles, river tubing, trolley pubbing, speedway racing, camping, attending a Durham Bulls' baseball game and many other activities. In anticipation of all the fun that remains, I finished some vector art today created in Adobe Illustrator from an original pencil sketch. Being that this would be my first time experiencing a lot of these activities, the excitement still bounces and there's no way I'm giving up on these plans before September 22nd!
I am happy about the fun I have had so far, however. Although it has not felt like much time has been set aside from work for fun, I've volunteered often, traveled a little, attended a few concerts, cookouts, and weddings. Of course, creating art always falls into my category of fun, and I've had some opportunities to draw and paint so far, i.e. the J Cole drawing I thought I could finish before the Dollar & A Dream Raleigh Tour. That did not go as planned, but feel free to browse some progress pictures of the drawing below. More summer updates to come... Enjoy!
The coolest thing I learned about mushrooms is that some of them have teeth! I'm not much of a 'shroom eater and with it being my first time hunting for them, I joined the hike hosted by ECWA along with a group of Mycologists and students just for the sake of experiencing nature again. Our hike leaders were experts, and gave excellent direction on where to find them; "go for the mounds where you see pine needles poking out," I was told.
While scattering through piles of leaf litter and rolling over fallen logs, my hiking partner, Melody, and I found a variety of fungi, adding to the huge selection the group collectively gathered. Our collection included puff balls, Amanitas, Turkey tails (false or smooth, gilled, and porous) and other bracket shaped fungi. Someone even found an animal skull.
We learned how to ID mushrooms by looking at their caps, stems, what they are growing on and whether they had pores, gills, or spines (also called teeth). Also, we were informed about the different types of fruiting bodies, and the mechanisms they use to spread their spores. I was excited to find out that some of the mushrooms I found were edible (pictured above, Hedgehog or Sweet Tooth Mushroom; Hydnum repandum). I happily let Melody have them so she could cook them for dinner.
Overall, this hike was a very educational experience and I used it again as inspiration to create new art with a street graffiti, cartoon-like style (see gallery of inspiration and the design's progress slideshow below).
My newest illustration has allowed me to practice my line work and watercolor painting techniques. After exploring a new part of town this past weekend while hiking with a group of fellow naturalists and stewards, I felt inspired to start drawing (see progress pictures below). Hosted by the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, there are many activities on their calendar year-round. Take this Saturday as an example, which is their Community Stewardship Day at Glennstone Nature Preserve where volunteers will come to help with trail maintenance, removing invasive plants, and cleaning up trash around the detention pond. With it being my first experience on any of ECWA's preserves, I found it to be delighting. I learned all about North Carolina's habitats, tasted the [surprisingly] citrisy taste of pine, and flat out enjoyed Mother Nature. For more information about ECWA, visit http://www.ellerbecreek.org
As mentioned in my last post, here is a process video of my Save The Elephants design - inspired by the presentation I attended a couple of weeks ago at the Carolina Theater. Environmental Artivism... Support!
On Liberia's Independence Day this year, I created a new piece of art inspired by the holiday. Last year, I did the same. "Just because." I recorded the process of creating this year's painting, which was done in watercolor over the lyrics of Liberia's national anthem. It can be viewed on Youtube at this [link] and below.
Today, I feel inspired to do a series of paintings connected to each of Africa's 54 nations. I hope to find this project educational, on my part as well as for any viewers and appreciators of the artwork. Make sure you tune in to this page for updates and more information about coming shows, collaborations, and giveaways!
P.S: tomorrow is The Scrap Exchange's deadline to receive mail art for their exhibit, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”. The opening reception will be Friday, August 16 from 6pm-9pm. The piece shown to the left is mixed media (watercolor paint, chalk pastel, ink, collage) mail art, which will be dropped off at the post office today. It is folded into thirds (progress pic) so only two of its sides will be viewed. The gallery shows its front and back.
Hello, hello! It's been one week since I've been working on the illustrations for a soon-to-be published, children's storybook. I met the author exactly three weeks ago while I was at my day-job and I'm grateful for the opportunity to give her the illustrations she desired and to do all the layout designs for her book. I'm very excited and proud of the progress I've made thus far, so I am giving you a sneak peek! I can't show you EVERYTHING, of course, but here's a glimpse of what I've been creating in my free time. Enjoy!
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