My First Job as an Illustrator

After I went away to college and no longer lived near my parents, we still had a desire for closeness, particularly around the holidays. We started a tradition where my mother would write a story and email it to me, I would create illustrations for it then send the finished pages back over to them, then my father would help bind and ship the story. They would go out to all the friends and relatives as their Christmas present.

I’ll admit, my illustrations were pretty bad at times.  Sometimes I really didn’t put the care into them that I needed to.  As I look back on each thin, hand-bound volume, I can see a lot of progress and I think that’s valuable.  Besides, there were other advantages too.  The extended family, who are devoted non readers, would start calling each other and discussing the story. And I got a little much needed holiday cash.  We all three had the feeling of continuing a holiday tradition that drew us together.

Now, for this year, my dad was the one who wrote the story. I had the idea to publish the last twelve or so stories into one big volume. I also would re-illustrate the stories that needed it. So “Yuletide Lights” was born. It’s fifteen stories, each one born of personal experience, and filled with the central themes of the holiday season. They stories are in general heartwarming and filled with generosity but in some truly touching ways. Each story is a slice of life, a pair of magic glasses with which you can peep into another life, another way. The story I wrote is about a lost cat in Japan, but even it happens around the Holidays. The little girl in the book my dad wrote might as well have been me, and I remember versions of many of events in these and other stories. Many times I’ve been moved to tears, working on this project.

I had fun preparing, editing and illustrating these stories, as much fun as I hope you have in reading them.

If you’d like to see this volume, it’s available both in paperback and Kindle.

Since I already posted a picture of the cover, two posts back, I’ll share some of the interior illustrations instead!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trash Burner Stove

 

 

This little drawing is for the latest Holiday Story my family is putting out.  We do this each year and are thinking, at some point, of doing an anthology.  The stove is called a Trash Burner, and is a small wood stove that people use to heat small spaces or burn things they don’t want.  I had that as my sole source of heat for about four years.

(Author’s note:  Since the site redesign, we have indeed completed the anthology.  It’s available on Amazon under the title “Yultide Lights: Holes in the Christmas Stocking.”)

October Moon

 

I took this last night, and did only a tiny bit of postpro to clean things up.  I’m still very happy with the fact that my humble little Nikon Coolpix 830 can take pictures like this!  I used no tripod, instead bracing in the V formed by two angled fence boards, and relied on nothing but that and my somewhat shaky trigger finger.  I must say, I am truly pleased – probably more pleased than I would be if I had a top end DSLR and a tripod.

I have submitted this photo to Pixabay so other artists can use it if needed, however I retain the signed, bordered version of it for myself.

The Great Old Woman

 

 

I so enjoyed looking at this great, old tree.  This picture was taken on a photo walk, where I took my camera with me on my normal morning route.  The shapes in the trunk are amazing, and the way the light might fall under different conditions is fascinating to me.

What story might this tree tell?  My partner just saw a group of people outlined in the bark… what do you see?

Time for a little graphic design

 

 

I really enjoy it when a publishing house offers me a free sample to try their product.  I use it as a chance to practice my graphic design skills, improve them, and usually outwit their silly interface.  This time I was offered a 20 page photo book, hardcover, for only the price of shipping.  These things are great and they make awesome mini portfolios.  By the way, if you want one, contact me, usually I can find a free affiliate offer for new customers.  Those are great too!

This time I put black and white pieces in alongside color pieces.  They were a mix of acrylic, watercolor, chalk, and pen and ink.  I tried to have one black and white and one color image on each two page spread, so things looked balanced.  I also delighted in deleting all their gimmicky bits and bobs and photo embellishments.

When designing, keep it simple!  The world will thank you.  Doubt me?  Think of Geocities and Angelfire sites from the 90s.  Oh, the flickering animated GIFs… the mixed, multicolored, mismatched fonts… make it stop…

“The Dice of Fate”

This was a book cover design that I made for a novel.

The novel was “The Dice of Fate,” a story about a young woman who was suddenly transported directly from her day job to a place that was like something from one of her roleplaying campaigns.  Early in the story, a little white Kitsune with three tails comes and helps her, and the theme of dice features prominently in the story.  Therefore, I chose to depict the kitsune, the ten sided die, and a hint of the long road she had to walk on foot to get to civilization.

I started (as usual) with the sky gradient.  The better the sky gradient, the better the foundation of the work.  Since this was acrylic, I could dispense any worry about the transparency of my layers.  With the trees I worked from dark to light, always keeping in mind that most trees have gray bark, not brown.  For highlighting, I used chalks and pencils in the final steps.

I was fairly pleased with the work.  If anyone wants to see it on the cover, feel free to click through to the link – and if anyone wants to buy it, it’s free for Kindle subscribers.  Just search the title “The Dice of Fate.”