Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kid-lit Tuesday

Her way with words fascinated me. "Baby" this, and "sweetheart" that. Her sharp wit, her boundless wisdom, swept a brotha off his feet. I could have spent the an entire day wallowing in her use of words and her peculiar New Orleanean dialect. Her effervescent humor tickled me right down to my bones.

Yes, while speaking in Tampa last month, I met a woman. How will the wife ever trust me again when I travel alone to speak in faraway places? What will she say when she see's this photo of me, hugged-up close to this woman?

"Who's the old lady in the funny glasses and hat?"

It's children's author, storyteller and speaker Colleen Salley. I first met this multi-talented author at the Tampa airport as she sat in a wheelchair being waited on, hand and foot by a genial airport attendant. We exchanged niceties about our travel experience thus far, then headed for the shuttle van. As we approached the shuttle and stopped in front of the door, Ms. Salley gets up out her wheelchair, walks to the front seat, climbs in and sits down. I'm thinking, "She walked! I've witnessed a miracle!" But, I didn't say a thing. I just took my seat and wondered to myself about this curious event. But one doesn't have to question Colleen, 'cause she offers an explanation and opinion on practically everything.
    "I never show up at airports or hospitals unless I'm in an ambulance or a wheelchair," she explains in that heavy Louisiana drawl.
    "Show up at an airport walkin' and you're on your own, they'll treat you rudely," she says cutting her eyes at me. "But in a wheelchair, they'll practically fall at your feet with service."

Colleen delivered a gut-busting keynote address at the Pathways to Literacy conference last month. She delighted us all with her vast knowledge of the children's book biz, and she intertwined her presentation with comical anecdotes, book recommendations for teachers and librarians, and gave solid advice for authors and illustrators.


Blogger Kim, One Over-Caffeinated Mom made the suggestion that I show how the cover artwork for THE HIDDEN FEAST has progressed. Well, I had planned to do that, but in all the craziness of painting, presenting, blogging, graduating, grandfathering, daddying and husbanding, I forgot. But, with my publisher's permission, here's a look at the final painting:

So far, I've used a slightly different style for every children's book I've illustrated. Styles have ranged from cartoony to realistic, stylized to naive. Some in the business would advise against that. They'd make their argument that an artist style is their name brand, their identity and that using a different look only confuses book buyers. Maybe so. But every book requires at least seventeen paintings. I'd get bored if I had to use the same. exact. look. over. and. over. for. every. single. solitary. book. (Ok, Tiff, I stole that from you) Besides, I haven't won any major awards for my illustration. When I do, maybe I'll stick with that style.

For THE HIDDEN FEAST, I tried to get away from such a tightly rendered look. With my deadline practically cut in half (this was originally a 2007 release, I think), I decided to go for a style that would be a better fit for the time allowed. For this, I loosened up and went with solid colors and bold outlines. The effect is almost that of a stained-glass window, however maintaining the playful animated feel of the animals. Due to the loss of data from my digital camera, you may not be able to see the texture in the paintings. I mixed in a liberal amount of glazing medium which allows for building up of several transparent layers of paint which also gives a thick, caked-on quality to the final art. So far, I'm very happy with how these are turning out. But I have decided not to read reviews this time around. I've personally found children's literary critics to be more destructive than helpful.

Quote for the day; as per my wife: I gotta pray for you and your diet of sex, beer and cheesburgers. My response: who don't like sex, beer or cheeseburgers? Pray, but pray for abundance.

For those who inquired about my son, his penny and his booty, it's alright. He just dropped a penny in his underwear.


Susan Taylor Brown said...

The cover looks great! I don't blame you for experimenting and using different styles with each book. Why should an artist be constrained by just one? Writers can move from picture books to middle grade novels to non-fiction easy readers to YA novels....(speaking for myself at least) why shouldn't an artist have the same freedom?

And BTW, I added your blog to my list a while ago, not long after I started blogging. You're brave in ways that I'm not with your writing and I admire that.

Write on, right now.

Luke Cage said...

Hey Don, nice job as usual man. Several years ago I wanted to expand my artistic horizons from simple line drawing. Now I incorporate airbrushing, oil painting and at times even good ol' fashioned sharpie markers taking it back to the ol' school.

Now, there's truth in that statement about an artist being identified solely by their style. I can look at a cover of a book or comic and be able to tell if that's one of my favorite artists or not. But I disagree that an artist should stick to only one style too.

Growth is so important in the progression of an individual and artists are no different. And who wants repetition, especially when you are doing bulk work. You'll want to challenge yourself. Do you man! Keep up the stellar work!

By the way, I'm not sure if the wifey is going to let you go on the road alone anymore man. This may have been your last trip with you meeting women away from home and all -lol

Brea said...

Very cute pic. I can see your wife has lots to worry about!

I love your latest illustration. Even with the camera problems - it looks very good. I can imagine it is ten times better in person - great job!

Christopher M. Beatrice said...

Ok that was a great Picture man, you do a great job always. You better stop flirting with them old ladies though. One might get ahold of you. Well anyway I have decided that I am gonna start taking pictures. Lauren is a great photographer and does it in her spair time so I decided it would be fun to buy a camera and go with her sometimes so wish me luck on that lol.

WIP said...

"Pray, buy pray for abundance." Too. Funny. ... Out of all the things I could have "picked" to comment-reflect on, I picked that. I need some Marvin Gaye type "healing" cause I swear I must have a bit more "testosterone" on the brain when it comes to the 'X' factor compared to many/most women. *Sigh* Maybe I'll join a group?

Oh. Nice art work you have there. Better?

The Archivist said...

I love the artwork, man. It looked brilliant!!

Nikki said...

Don is getting his little May-December romance on!!

Love the illustration.

Oricon Ailin said...

Beautiful artwork Don!! You are very talented. And, the pic with Mrs. Salley is very cute!

God Bless you Don in all your endeavors.

Friar Tuck said...

Glad to hear the son is alright

Friar Tuck said...

I think you should do a post on the difference between raising boys and girls

The Gig said...

Great picture as usual. I'm waiting for my ride to Chicago. Love ya