My Life With Gracie…New Ways Of Looking At The World

A New Way Of Looking At The World

Recently I’ve used some weekend time to experiment with other styles of illustration. This has mainly been driven the realization that any lengthy illustrated book, like a novel, would likely be quite expensive with full-color illustrations. Using black-and-white illustrations only would seem to be the best alternative.

But even so, as you can see in today’s main illustration above, I can’t get away from having at least some color! Even what appears to be black-and-white is actually a warm black-and-white.

When I put a filter over this illustration to make it truly black-and-white as below, it feels to me like some of the “life” went out of the illustration. See what I mean?

For further comparison, below are two different styles of the same basic illustration. On the left is what you would normally see here on “My Life With Gracie.” On the right is a different way of looking at the world, at least the world of my chickens.

Personally, I’m unsure which I prefer. (My chickens like the scratchy texture, but then scratching around is a good part of their day!) Most likely it will depend on the type of story and intended audience.

For me, one thing that really stands out as a major difference is the eyes. On the left, they seem blank and unblinking. On the right, they seem more alive.

Anyway, just wanted to share with everyone what I’ve been thinking about and working on.

Also even though we have finished our little series on “Gracie’s Summer Reading List,” Amelia spotted a book that we didn’t get to read yet. The title? “Amelia Bedilia Unleashed.” If that wasn’t enough to get her attention, the cover also has shiny glitter on it. Chickens love shiny things like glitter.

Thanks for looking and reading!

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

Last week, the first official copy of “Seasons of Friendship” arrived in my mailbox. Previously I had received a proof copy and had made a few minor visual changes, probably nothing that most people would notice, but I did.

Just so you know, I tried both Barnes & Noble and Amazon. The quality of printing provided by Barnes & Noble was much better than that done through Amazon. The colors were much truer to the original digital artwork with the test copy from Barnes & Noble.

If you would, compare Gracie in the photo from the book and Gracie in the digital image from the upper right corner. They are even closer when viewed side-by-side.

The illustrations printed by Amazon also had a slightly glossy sheen which did not work well for graphic images. The glossiness might be appropriate for a book which contained photographs, but did not work well for my illustrations.

The feel of the paper from Barnes & Noble was also slightly better which is very important with a print copy. The time from order to delivery was basically the same, one week. (They both use print-on-demand technology rather than a warehouse for self-published books like this.)

Today’s photo is from one of my favorite chapters which is based on this post from the first month of “My Life With Gracie” and this post from earlier this year. It also may be considered the turning point chapter of the book when Gracie learns one of the key lessons of being a good leader.

Classifying “Seasons Of Friendship” was not easy and may still change. It is not really a novel but more of a story collection. Here is how I described it in the preface:

The stories here are rambling. They are simply collections of thoughts, anecdotes, hopes, and dreams. Each is complete in itself, yet they all fit together to tell a bigger story. This is much like life itself.

All are loosely bound together by a common theme. They free range like my chickens exploring their backyard but always coming back home. They aren’t great literature, but they are from my heart.

This book is perhaps best read outdoors in a shady peaceful spot, perhaps in your own little backyard garden, real or imagined. Whether you read just one chapter at a time, one seasonal section at a time, or the entire book all in one leisurely afternoon, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you choose as a reader, I hope you will imagine Gracie and the others sitting at your feet, bringing you peace and friendship.

“Seasons Of Friendship” is now also available as a paperback for $12.50 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “Seasons Of Friendship” paperback!

Four Parts, Twelve Chapters, Seventeen Full Premium Color Illustrations, White 70 lb. Paper, 5.5” x 8.5” with Matte Cover.

Need a preview, just to be sure? Download “Seasons Of Friendship” sample!

As with the eBook version, all royalties from “Seasons Of Friendship” until the end of the year will be donated to the women’s group at St. John’s Church that sponsors our annual Flower Festival. This year, the Flower Festival followed the Hatchday for Gracie and Bessie, April 25th. Each chapter in “Seasons Of Friendship” is illustrated with garden plants as a celebration of beauty and friendship. What a perfect combination of events!

The “A.W.E.-some” women of St. John’s always give and they always give their very best. They love everyone no matter what, and I’ve never known them to turn anyone away who needed help. They always have a smile and a kind word, particularly for those who are the most vulnerable and have no voice. These are just some of the reasons why Gracie and Bessie call them their friends!

Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp (Part 3)

Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp

This post is a continuation of a little series which may become part of a book about Amelia’s trip to the moon and back. If you are not a regular reader, you may want to read the most recent post about Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp first. It will help explain the ending to this post.

Emily had been enjoying her chalks and pastels for long enough to cover the front of my refrigerator with artwork. It seemed like a perfect day to try something new.

“Would you like this little travel-size watercolor set?” I asked.

“What does it do?”

“Well, I thought you might like to try making some pictures with it, paintings really.”

“Are paintings better than drawings?”

“That is a question people still haven’t figured out yet. But if you ask me, a painting is a lot like a drawing except it is wet at first. But some drawings, like ink drawings, start out wet too. The best thing about painting is you can make a big colorful shape all at once.”

“Don’t I have to travel to use it? I don’t think I can fly and carry that all at the same time even though it is small.”

“It’s only called that name because when artists travel away from home sometimes they like to take a little set of paints and a brush with them. But they can use it at home too.”

“Those colors are pretty and brighter than chalk. Do I pick them up like chalk?”

“They have pigment in them like the chalk, and a very weak kind of glue. You add some water with the paintbrush to loosen up the pigment and glue, and then you have paint.”

Emily couldn’t quite imagine how this would all work. She looked as if she was going to tell me she’d rather just stay with her chalk drawings, but I wanted her to at least try.

“By the way, Emily, did you know that many years ago some artists started using the clear part inside eggs as a stronger kind of glue when they mixed their paint colors. The clear part of the egg made the paint last a really long time and kept the colors extra beautiful.”

“You are serious about that?”

“Absolutely serious. It’s called egg tempera, and some artists still use it. The paintings are small because they take so much time to make, but they are worth it because they are small and as beautiful as jewels, just like you.”

Emily had exhausted all of the questions she could come up with, and so there was nothing left to do except make a decision. Chickens can be hesitant about trying new things, even new food.

“I want to see how this paint works. I will give it a try.”

“I’m so glad.”

“But I’m not giving up any eggs for this.”

“And I wouldn’t ask you to either. You will just need a dish of water. It wouldn’t be good to use everyone’s drinking dish. Nobody wants funny-colored water to drink.”

I was eager to see how her watercolor painting would turn out. The travel-sized box had a shorter paintbrush that fit nicely in her beak. I showed her how to use it to get water and turn the cakes of pigment into paint. In no time, she was ready to start.

From the very beginning, Emily developed her own painting style. She enjoyed being able to use her whole body, especially her wings, when she painted.

Flying and painting worked well together for her. She would load her brush with paint and then touch straight down to make round yellow shapes for flower centers. She would touch at an angle to make white oblong shapes for flower petals. She would touch down then drag and lift up to make green shapes with two pointed ends for flower leaves.

None of her shapes were exactly the same which made every flower unique, just as in nature. A few times drops of paint went where they weren’t supposed to go, but she was able to turn the drips into more flowers. All in all, her first watercolor painting was quite a success.

When she was finished she put down her brush and looked up at me. She was delighted to see the approval on my face.

“Nicely done,” I said. “And I know what you are going to say next.” It was why she had asked if painting was better than drawing.

“I want to paint Amelia.”

“Then we will work on that tomorrow. You will need even bigger shapes than what you made today. Let me show you, and then you can imagine how you will do it for tomorrow’s lesson.”

I opened the paint box all of the way so that the lid laid flat. Emily had been so eager to start, she hadn’t noticed this. She liked how the two sections there could be used to make a larger amount of paint.

Emily watched carefully as I mixed a special color and outlined a large round shape with watercolor and then filled it in with more paint.

Then once that was dry, I mixed another special color and added more smaller round shapes on top of the larger round shape.

“That is the moon! That is where Amelia is going!”

“That’s right.”

“So is painting like drawing?”

“What do you mean, Emily?”

“Does it also let you do things you would never be able to do any other way?”

“We will find out tomorrow, won’t we?”

“Yes. Yes, we will.”

My Life With Gracie taught me you never know what you can do until you try.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!