Monday, January 27, 2014

the story of a groundhog

When my friend, editor Tracey Keevan, asked if I’d like to help her with a belated holiday card to send to her authors and colleagues, I really wasn’t sure if my schedule would allow. 

Then she described what she wanted, and I was hooked. It had been a few months since I’d sent out any promos of my own, and with a small window in between a few large projects, I knew it would be even more months before I’d get my act together for a mailing. I decided if I could figure out a way for the piece to serve me as well, I’d do it.

On the surface, Tracey’s idea was simple: a groundhog in winter, at work on his home typewriter, composing letters. But she wanted a way to personalize the cards with a note of her own. This would be in the form of a separate piece of paper emerging from the typewriter that she could compose, cut out, and affix to the card for mailing. 

I also knew in the interest of time management, I’d have to collage some of the more complicated elements—namely the typewriter and wallpaper. I haven’t done that much in my work, and but it seemed like a really good solution in this case. For Tracey’s version, I added a little holiday card on top of the bookcase which reads “Keevan’s Greetings.” Get it? Here’s the sketch...

I love a puzzle, and this one seemed to satisfy my designer and illustrator brains. But I knew I wouldn’t have time to compose and assemble letters for my entire mailing list of 100 plus children’s book editors and art directors. The card also had to function as a simple two-sided postcard to suit my time-crunched needs.

Lately when I’ve been sending out mailings that aren’t associated with one of my books, I like to tell somewhat of a story with the images. I remembered a painting I did around the holidays of a little village where I could imagine this groundhog fellow vacationing or something. Here it is...

And below is the final product, dummied up with a letter. This was such a fun project, I wrote a really long process blog entry for it. And I think there’s potential for a complete story for this little guy too—I do seem to like painting rodents.

If you’ve read this far, thanks and here’s hoping the little guy doesn’t see his shadow—this winter has been brutal. Happy Groundhog Day!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A look at the year to come

Happy New Year! I hope yours it getting off to a great start. For me, 2014 is already shaping up into a busy year. 

As I mentioned on this page a few months ago, I’m in the process of sketching 2 new picture books that will be released in 2015: The Wrong Side of the Bed, by Lisa Bakos, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons; and Simple Machines, another non-fiction picture book by David A. Adler, published by Holiday House. I look forward to sharing a few teaser images as I get further into the painting process.

And great news! It looks like I’ll be illustrating another book for Candlewick, my World Rat Day publisher. I’ll share more details at a later date. 

My work for Kiwi Magazine continues. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to eat more leafy greens, then the current issue’s “Cooking with Kids” section is just what you’ll need to learn how to clean and prepare kale, minus the army of industrious green peas, of course. 

If you were unable to see the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators over the last few months, you might be able to catch the traveling show. For more information, click here. I was very pleased that my image from World Rat Day was included.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!