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Viewing Blog: Planet Ham, Most Recent at Top
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Children's book illustrator, writer, and enthusiast.
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1. Happy Halloween

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2. Visible Traces

"The Chinese consider it childish to look for details in pictures and then to compare them with the real world. They want, rather, to find in them the visible traces of the artist's enthusiasm."

– E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art 

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3. Brush with a Gorilla

Experimenting with Chinese brushes and Marie's watercolor on Sumi-e paper...

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4. Ratfink Raccoon

Polychromos pencil and digital.

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5. Brush with Cat

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6. Ravens

Just playing around with a Winsor & Newton Ivory Black Water Colour Marker and my trusty water brush. Fun, but seems to fade quite a bit after a few minutes. Scan or take a photo quick, kids.

And just for fun...

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Still have to wait until September for the pub date, but here's the cover...

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8. Zoodle

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9. Silicon Valley READS The Storm in the Barn!

During the first week of March, I'll be doing a series of events about The Storm in the Barn for the Silicon Valley READS program.

Here are the events that are free and open to the public!

And here's more about the Silicon Valley READS program!

Please come out and say howdy!

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10. Snow Will Fall...

"To illustrate a fairy tale is not an intellectual, scientific interpretation but a transposition of internal pictures and feelings."
                                    – Lisbeth Zwerger

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11. Pig in a Tutu!

Drawn with an Intense pencil, Niji water brush, and plain ol' water.

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12. Drawing a Shrew

Giant Elephant Shrew, that is.

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13. Edward & Me

Last year, the Oregon Children's Theatre (creators of the excellent stage version of The Storm in the Barn) contacted me about doing an illustration to promote their production of Ramona Quimby. This year, I was asked to take a crack at an image for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Kate DiCamillo.

I really enjoy these theater poster commissions. It gives me a chance to delve into a great book and try to boil the essence down to a single image. It is similar to designing a cover, but without the various input and compromises that sometimes go with that territory.

I was asked to try a few sketches with the hobo and Edward:

Those weren't dramatic enough so I turned to the sequence in the book when Edward is fished out of the ocean.

This seemed like the direction to take it. I pulled back to give more of a sense of the net and the lonely sea.

To avoid being too bleak, a bit of sunlight filters in from the top left.

The final was drawn in pencil and then digitally colored which was both faster (I was in the middle of painting Snow White and didn't have a ton of time) and also well-suited for the murky depths of the ocean.

The show goes up next season in lovely Portland, Oregon. Check it out if you can!

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14. MARILYN'S MONSTER is here!

Today's the publication date for MARILYN'S MONSTER, my new picture book written by the amazing MICHELLE KNUDSEN!

I met Michelle many years ago at an independent booksellers' conference. I was a big fan of LIBRARY LION so I let her know that I'd (obviously) very much like to work with her someday. Okay, I may have pestered her a little. Well, the pestering eventually paid off because here is the book! And here's what people are saying:

"Rich with feeling, it’s a warm, gently funny reminder to chase down one’s dreams, rather than waiting for them to appear on the doorstep." Publishers Weekly (STAR)

"Tender and witty..." Wall Street Journal

"A surprising spin on monsters with nicely effective artwork—and heart." Kirkus Reviews

The official Book Release Party is SATURDAY, MARCH 14th at CHILDREN'S BOOK WORLD in Haverford, PA! Michelle and I will both be there so here's your chance to get the rare and oh-so-nifty double signed copy!

To celebrate today's release, here are some sketches...

cover sketch

Unused title page
Early development sketch
dummy sketch

Monster character design sketch

And here's a final painting from the book:

Look for more process posts soon. To keep up on all of my book stuff (including upcoming events), check out my Facebook Author Page!

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15. Dancing Bear

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16. Snow White Begins

I'm off and running on the final art for my next graphic novel, SNOW WHITE. I'll try to share sketches and art whenever I come up for air.

Here's a test drawing to show you the mood and style:

(note: I thought I had posted this in December, but something is apparently went wrong.)

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17. "...like a memory recalled or a dream put to page.

You know what makes one a very happy author? Reading an analysis of your book as thoughtful as the  one Desmond White just wrote for Sequart. Go read it!

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And to conclude Monster Week '14, here's some preliminary art from my upcoming picture book, MARILYN'S MONSTER by the great Michelle Knudsen and published by the extraordinary Candlewick Press. Coming to a bookstore near you in MARCH 2015!


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19. Monster of the Week: Thursday!

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20. Monster Week Wednesday!

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21. Monster Week Tues!

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22. Monster Week!

Two years ago, I kept a sketchbook devoted entirely to monsters. It was a fun preliminary step to illustrating the picture book Marilyn's Monster by my good friend Michelle Knudsen (Candlewick Press, March 2015). 

It seems to fitting to post a beastie a day this week. Check back!

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If you had your druthers, what would you do?

My first picture book as both author and illustrator is now available! The idea for Druthers came to me ten years ago but it took many years (and, arguably, fatherhood) to get the book right.

Here are some images from the long journey:

Original cover concept from the pitch dummy.

Another cover idea.

Pages from the sketch dummy. The basic structure of the story is the same from the dummy, 
but we expanded the build-up to the ending.

Various character sketches. Fortunately, I have very good source material running around the house. This book is dedicated to her.

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24. A Tentative Shrew

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25. Wind in the Willows

More classic characters, this time from one of my favorite books, The Wind in the Willows. These guys were sketched just for fun while on vacation.

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