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A source for Bowers Studio updates, technique demonstrations and entries covering topics such as inspiration, career experience, preparing for publication, industry observations and whatever else seems appropriate at the time.
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The new 2013 Hot Licks Bluesfest poster is finished and on it's way to the printer.
2013 Hot Licks Bluesfest poster
I painted this one in acrylic (again) and wanted it to compliment a previous illustration, done for an earlier Bluesfest poster. You can see that piece of art in the photo, on my easel. The main band for the night is Ruthie Foster. I used photos of Ruthie to inspire the design but I didn't want to create a portrait. I picked up on the dreadlocks, facial expression and style of guitar and used those in the artwork but didn't try to make an exact likeness of Ruthie Foster. I do that on every poster. Last year, my inspiration was Sean Carney...and so on.
I can't wait until September 7th, when the blues blows into Granville, Ohio. It's a great night of music.
I can hear it from my house but it's better when you are with hundreds of other blues fans, in the heart of the village. My folding chair is packed and waiting.
My friends at Highlights High Five magazine are publishing the August issue, featuring my artwork on the cover. I remember Highlights magazine from my childhood and having the chance to work with the team at Highlights High Five was very exciting. I know that a lot of little fans of the magazine (who grow up to be big fans of the magazine) will Get On Board! with this issue.
Detail from High Five cover art by Tim Bowers
If you haven't looked at a copy of Highlights High Five in a while...now Is a great time to check it out.
A box of chilly dogs arrived on my doorstep, last week. Well, kinda. My next book, Snow Dog, Go Dog by Deborah Heiligman (published by Two Lions/Amazon Children's Publishing) will be released on September 3 and features the lovable Tinka.
Here is the description on Amazon: Snow doesn't stop the Golden Retriever, Tinka. She runs and plays and sleds with her boy. But when her friend Millie the beagle shows up, off races Tinka. And she gets lost -- till her boy finally rescues her. A companion to Fun Dog, Sun Dog and School Dog, Cool Dog.
The artwork was painted with acrylic paint on a gessoed surface. I love to get lots of texture on these images and brushing a layer of thick gesso helps me get there. I always feel that I can loosen up a bit with this technique.
I've been thinking about baseball, lately. No, I'm not playing but I've been working on my knuckleball and will pitch you the details, soon. Well, back to the drawing board...gotta get into the blues mood. The Hot Licks Bluesfest is just around the corner.Add a Comment
Earlier this year, I worked on an assignment from Time For Kids magazine. It was a cover illustration for the March 22, 2013 issue and the only piece of art that I've documented on film, from start to finish. I like the idea of showing a painting in progress and I'm sure that I'll try it again. This is my first attempt.
Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian is being published by Sleeping Bear Press. It follows our first collaboration, Memoirs of a Goldfish(2010).
Here’s a description of the story:
Night 1 / My life is perfect. / I have a bowl full of seeds, a cozy pile of wood shavings, and room to run. / I'm never leaving here. / Question: Who's the luckiest hamster in the world? / Answer: ME! Seymour the hamster has the perfect life. He has a spacious cage, a constant food supply, and a FuzzyBoy 360 exercise wheel that lets him run to his heart's content. Life could not be better. Or could it? When Pearl the cat tells Seymour of the goodies beyond the safe confines of his cage, he starts to think he's missing out. And out is the new in! It's only after Seymour is out of his cage that he begins to fully appreciate his safe and cozy home.
The illustrations were done in acrylic on watercolor board.
I think I’ll start my own memoir…
I received two boxes of freshly printed books. Who’s the luckiest illustrator in the world? Answer: Me!
I've been playing around with the ole' video camera and put together a couple of art videos for practice. I intend to create some painting demos and book trailers if I can figure out what the heck I'm doing. Here are my first award winning videos.
And I've been using songs that I created a few years ago (thanks to garageband) as soundtracks...so they aren't exactly fitting for these videos but I used them, anyway. I'll work on new music to go along with the new videos...in my spare time.
My newest children’s book hit the shelves, last week. Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el, published by Viking Juvenile.
Not Your Typical Dragon-cover
Here’s a description of the book:
Everybody knows your typical dragon breathes fire.
But when Crispin tries to breathe fire on his seventh birthday, fire doesn't come out—only whipped cream! Each time Crispin tries to breathe fire, he ends up with
Crispin wonders if he’ll ever find his inner fire. But when a family emergency breaks out, it takes a little dragon with not-so-typical abilities to save the day.
Happy Birthday, Crispin!
A birthday surprise...
The parents are a bit concerned but the little sister is fine with the outcome…she likes whipped cream.
Mr. Blaze (Dad) takes Crispin to the Doc for help.
I dedicated this book to Betsy and Jeff Woytovich who started an organization called The Children’s Alopecia Project (C.A.P.).
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that is not life threatening, but is life altering. It is not contagious. You can't catch it and it does not hurt. It is almost like your body is allergic to hair, which causes it to fall out.
The Mission of the Children's Alopecia Project is to help any child in need living with hair loss due to all forms of alopecia.
For children, living with this condition can be difficult. Being teased, bullied and receiving hurtful comments are common among kids with alopecia. I hope that more awareness and understanding will help the situation and make the lives of many of these kids, a bit easier. To me, this story is about discovering the special uniqueness and seeing the good in every “not your typical” dragon…and child.
I really enjoyed working on this book. The character's proportions were fun to play around with and the big buggy eyes added a bit more humor. These paintings were done in acrylic on illustration board. An earlier post describes the acrylic painting technique that I usually use. That's all for now...back to the paint.
A box of freshly printed copies of Maestro Stu Saves the Zooarrived on my doorstep, yesterday.I’m extremely happy with the way this book printed. It has a matte finish dust jacket and the artwork was scanned so that the canvas texture and painted brushstrokes can be seen in just the right amount.
Stu, dreaming of the place he loved best.
Stu has an idea...
The story is full of animals, from cover to cover. One of the animals, seen throughout the book is a squirrel monkey. My grandfather (Mom’s dad) had a squirrel monkey named Joe-Joe.It was a real treat to visit their house when I was a boy. Each time I painted the monkey in this book, I thought of Joe. I’m also thinking about how childhood memories and experiences seem to weave through our lives in unexpected ways.
Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo by Denise Brennan-Nelson, published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Here’s Denise with a little introduction to the book:
The annual Hot Licks Bluesfest returns to Ganville, Ohio in September. I’ve created artwork for the festival poster in the past and it’s one of my favorite projects of the year. It’s a full day of great music in the heart of a beautiful little village and when you combine music and art, I’m on board!
The end of June and first part of July was lost to a storm in the area. My work schedule was really messed up and the Bluesfest poster deadline was approaching (I think that could inspire a blues song, like- Couldn’t Stand the Weather…oops, that one’s taken).
Anyway, I only had a couple of days to create some blues art magic and thought I’d share some project details.
I usually like to include something in the art that reflects that year’s headliner, or bands. If the main band is guitar driven, I go with a guitar. If it’s harp, I try to include a harp player, and so on. This year, the headliner is the hot, hot band from Chicago-land, Funky Mojodaddy. As I researched the other bands in the line-up, the flash of Sean Carney caught my eye.Carney is an excellent musician and performer. I pulled some pics of Sean for reference. The guy has an extremely cool jacket, trimmed with a leopard print…that’s where I started.
Final illustration (acrylic on board).
He’s very animated on stage, so that became perfect inspiration for the poster layout. To get away from the photo reference, I took parts (hands, head, guitar, legs, etc.) from various pics and photo-shopped them together. I enlarged parts, stretched parts and came up with a photo-collage that became my final reference image. The legs and shoes in the reference were actually from a pic of guitar player, Chuck Berry. They worked perfectly with Sean’s cool jacket. Then, I did a pencil sketch from the Franken-sean photo-collage.
Working on the final art with Franken-sean reference.
The festival goes into the night, so I thought of a starry night as a background…plus the movement of the brushstrokes would add more energy to the final art.
If you are in the central Ohio area, stop by Granville for a great Blues festival. I just hope we can “stand the weather”…pray for a starry night!
Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo- published by Sleeping Bear Press
I've been surrounded by monkeys, lions, elephants, wildebeests and lots of other wildlife friends over the last several weeks. I'm in the middle of my next book and the artwork is in a production line...lots of wet paint.
Earlier this year, I ran into some illustration board problems. The art for this book is on canvas so I've temporarily solved my problem. I'm using Fredrix Knickerbocker (574) canvas. I've used it in the past and it's a tightly weaved surface which is nice for painting detail. Earlier this year, I visited Dean Mitchell, a very excellent painter and friend. He showed me a Crescent Premium Watercolor board that looked interesting (nice surface, thick enough with an acid free core) so I ordered some to try... just arrived, so I'll update you on the new board.
My newest children's book, Dinosaur Pet by Neil Sedaka and Marc Sedaka (published by Imagine! a Charlesbridge imprint) was recently featured on a few television shows.
CBS This Morning had Neil Sedaka visit to promote the book. The Dinosaur Pet book cover was displayed in the background but the morning show host had a hard time focusing on the book. She wanted to talk about other things... oh, well.
Fox News had Mr. Sedaka and his family on the Huckabee show. Neil Sedaka's grandchildren were singing with him and they did a fantastic job performing the song, Dinosaur Pet. The picture book was featured and Neil's son, Marc was in the audience to answer a few questions. Check out the segment... you'll be singing the song all day. It's a really catchy tune.
Here is a description of the book- Poppy, the adorable, persistent, dreaming-big pig, has a new adventure in store for her: the World Games ice-skating championship in Paris! Poppy is nervous about meeting so many new people in a new place. But, ever courageous and supported by her family (Emma, too!), Poppy embarks upon this exciting adventure head-on. She meets a snowboarding Panda, a Maltese who skies, and two fellow skaters, a Crane and a Kangaroo. Poppy begins to realize that although these animals look different, act different, and are from different places, they are all the same at heart. They all smile in the same language!
And here are a few images from inside It's a Big World, Little Pig!...
Tonight was the 43rd annual NAACP image awards presentation. One of the books that I illustrated, Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band was nominated in the Outstanding Literary Work- Children category. Our book wasn’t chosen but it was pretty cool to be considered for such an award. Kwame Alexander, the author of the story attended the L.A. event. Soon after the airing, the winner’s list was published. The Rooster stood proudly on the nomination list but wasn’t selected, this time. Regardless of tonight’s results, he’s still a winner! (…and Kwame looked great in his black tux!)
My newest book is out this month and it’s a beauty! The production quality is top notch… a really thick cover, slightly embossed title on the dust jacket and a music cd, embedded on the inside of the back cover…nice!
Dinosaur Petby Neil Sedaka and Marc Sedaka, published by Imagine! (an imprint of Charlesbridge) just hit the shelves and the song is already a tune that I can’t get out of my head. What a fun project and Neil Sedaka is such a gifted singer/ songwriter… not to mention his talented son, Marc, who also has a very impressive writing resume’. What a great team!
The artwork was created with acrylic paint on a textured surface. I gessoed the board before I painted the images. Then, after laying in the areas of color, I painted (dry brush technique) over the image and gesso brushstrokes to get the texture that you see in the final art.
A few art notes: Some interesting props have been recognized in the art. The red piano, seen in the book is very similar to one that was featured on the cover of Neil Sedaka's 1977 album, A Song. The black and white zebra chair (above) is extremely similar to the one that is on his web site banner. Coincidence?… maybe, but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
I was told that Mr. Sedaka liked intense color so I pumped up the chroma. This is the most saturated color book that I’ve done, thus far.
I just updated the ole' website. It took me a little longer than expected (that sounds familiar). I still have a few pages to finish but at least the main stuff is in place. A new year, a new agency (East West Literary Agency) and a new website... welcome to 2012!
I had the privilege of serving on the panel of judges for this year’s Columbus College of Art & Design’sArt of Illustration exhibition.
AOI at Rivet Gallery
The exhibit features the best of CCAD student illustrations and is organized entirely by students. I was part of a group of professional alumni jurors, which included- Linda Bittner (CCAD, ’88), Tim Bowers (CCAD, ’79), Eric Fortune (CCAD, ’99), and Scott Hull (CCAD, ’77) as well as Illustration Chair C. F. Payne.
Award winning image and artist, Tyler Bolyard.
Awards, including prizes from various sponsors, were presented for best of show as well as first, second and third place. Additionally, five selections identified as “judges favorites” received an original work of art from the respective judge
My “judges favorite” selection was an image created by Tyler Bolyard (senior). Tyler is a very talented artist with a promising future. He actually had 5 pieces selected for this year’s AOI show, including a three-dimensional piece…awesome stuff! I thought I’d shine the ole’ blog spotlight on Tyler for a job well done. To see more of his work, check out: http://tyrassic.blogspot.com/
I just received word that my newest book, Dream Big, Little Pig! By Kristi Yamaguchi, has debuted at number two on The New York Times Best Seller list. I couldn’t be happier about such great news. Way to go, Poppy!
I’m now represented by Rubin Pfeffer and the East/West Literary Agency. I’ve known Rubin since my very first book was published in 1986. He was a wise guiding voice then and continues to be a great influence in my children’s book journey. I look forward to future projects with Rubin and Deborah Warrren at East/West. I mention this as we celebrate our first collaboration, Dream Big, Little Pig!
I am really excited about my newest book, Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band by Kwame Alexander (published by Sleeping Bear Press). It's a project that allowed me to combine my art, a music theme and humor... it doesn't get any better than that!
Kwame put together a great little story with some very funny characters, including: Duck Ellington, Bee Holiday, Thelonious Monkey, Ella Finchgerald and Mules Davis. He also included a glossary at the end of the book that describes the actual Jazz musicians that inspired the book characters and other jazz vocabulary.
As I researched each Jazz character, I found that all of them had something I could use in my art that would tie the book character to the actual Jazz great. Thelonious Monk wore some pretty cool hats and I added one of them to my monkey character. Some photos showed Duke Ellington wearing a top hat and playing a light colored piano, so I used that information when designing "Duck". Miles Davis wore sunglasses in a lot of photos that I found, so "Mules" sported some jazzy sunglasses. Each one wore something that I could include in my artwork to reflect the actual Jazz character.
The paintings were created with oil paints on Bristol board. I started with a pencil drawing, then a burnt umber acrylic underpainting, followed by a complete coating of acrylic gloss medium to seal the paper from the oils. After that, several layers of oil paint were added to complete the image. Lastly, a final clear coat of Liquin was applied to create a more uniform paint surface.
The Rooster hits the bookshelves this month so check him out!
Here are two really great videos from Kwame... very funny stuff!!
Another unfinished painting, a self-portrait using the sight-size method. I'm not sure why I didn't finish... I think the model stopped showing up.
I’ve shared an interest in realistic painting and cartooning since I was a boy, growing up in Troy, Ohio. My career has taken me in both directions but usually in the direction of cartooning with a bit of added realism. Every once in a while I get a feeling of discontent, wanting to paint but having a full schedule of commercial work ahead of me. There have been times when I just have to take a break from my illustration assignments to look for a creative boost.
That’s what happened nearly 20 years ago. I was looking through my American Artist and the Artist’s magazines for some inspiration. I could always count on finding excellent articles featuring some really talented painters on the pages of those magazines. One artist that caught my attention was Richard Lack, a painter in Minnesota. I started reading about the classical realism group of artists and the atelier system of art training. I eventually called Mr. Lack on the phone and spoke to him about his work and asked if there were any of his students in the Ohio area. He was very helpful and gave me a name of a former student, living in the Cincinnati area.
Carl Samson is an immensely talented painter and I lived a few hours drive away from his studio. I called Carl and spent a day picking his brain about classical realism, the traditions of painting and looking at some of his excellent artwork. He was conducting a weekend workshop as an introduction to drawing from the cast, portrait painting (using the sight-size method) and landscape painting, plein-air. I signed up for the workshop and found that Samson was an excellent teacher, sharing a wealth of information and history as he demonstrated each direction. I was inspired, to say the least.
I returned to Columbus and set up a still life in my basement. Using the sight-size method, I started to paint. I would work on the still life between illustration assignments. Unfortunately, the tomatoes that I used in my still life began to age and change color during the process. I guess fruit and vegetables aren’t the best thing to paint if you can’t do it quickly. It was a mess and I had to improvise to complete the painting.
I recently toured Michigan to share my artwork and my children’s book: Memoirs of a Goldfish (published by Sleeping Bear Press), which is the featured title for the 2011 "Michigan Reads!" One State, One Children's Book Program. Target is a sponsor of "Michigan Reads!" Thanks to their support, the Library of Michigan provided a hardcover copy of the book and programming materials to all public libraries, elementary schools, Head Start and Michigan School Readiness programs across the state. In addition, the author (Devin Scillian) and I have been visiting libraries and schools across the state.
Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur: A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra politely hit the shelves this month. My newest book, published by Knopf features a cute little pig-tailed girl and a large spotted dinosaur with a small flowered purse.
A little girl is shopping in a grocery store when—surprise!—she meets a dinosaur. Don't worry. The dinosaur is very friendly. She's polite, too. In this funny story, told in lilting read-aloud rhyme, the girl has numerous opportunities to be helpful to the clumsy shopping dino and demonstrate when to say "thank you," "excuse me," "I'm sorry," "You're welcome," and other niceties of life. Tim Bowers's whimsical illustrations bring an extra dimension of fun to Judy Sierra's hilarious picture book fantasy. Altogether, Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur is an entertaining and painless way to show preschoolers why basic manners are a good thing to have.
If you have a chance, check it out…please.
The art was painted with acrylics on 3-ply Bristol board.
I’ve been having some problems with the Bristol, lately. I have used it for over twenty years without any problems but something has changed in the paper. I’m not sure what. It is sometimes inconsistent with the way it responds to paint washes and makes it difficult to get a really smooth color wash. I contacted the company that makes the paper (Strathmore) but they couldn’t explain the changes. Another artist, C. F. Payne had the same problem and switched to another board. Are any of you having
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