Thursday, April 26, 2007


Years ago, before my first trade picture book deal, I gave Brian Pinkney a call, asked his advice about how to get published. We discussed many things, but the best advice he gave me was to work all my paintings, an entire book, at the same time. Makes for consistent color matching from page to page. Believe it or not, when I started out (doing a lot of educational work), I’d paint one image at a time, remixing colors from one illustration to the next.

I still don’t work an entire book all at once. I’ve tried. Depresses me. Feels like I’m not getting anything accomplished. At the end of the day, I need to see that I’ve made progress. I need to finish some paintings along the way, so I work 4 to 6 pieces at a time.

In the picture above, I’m finishing up the first painting for the inside of the book, FARMER. I had prepared 6 boards to paint, but once I started blocking color in on the first, I couldn’t stop. Entranced. I enjoyed painting this scene so much — cerulean blue sky, pinkish clouds, green earth — I just kept going. It was a moment of zen that lasted a day-and-a-half. Though I love writing, I think I enjoyed painting this scene much more than I would have writing about it.

I have a school visit tomorrow (middle school, college prep), so I won’t be able to continue on the others until the weekend.

I like how these are turning out, and I’m enjoying the process.

In other news: The wife and I will run another 10k this weekend, The Texas Roundup. Problem is, I think my bronchitis is returning. Hope I'm wrong.


Disco Mermaids said...

I'd actually like to hear how you handle a middle school visit as compared to a visit with the younger kids. Are you preparing differently?


Don Tate II said...

Robin: I try to feel my audience out. Most times, for younger kids I tell stories along with showing the original art. I draw pictures. Quickly talk about process. With older kids, I show a slide presentation, talk in depth about process. The slides show a progression of art from when I was a child to being a teen, until now. Some audiences are first grade going on high school, some audiences are high school going on first grade. I gauge it and adjust accordingly.

gail said...

Cool to see you at work! Your school visits sound great. I want to go the older kids one. OK, maybe the younger one too!

Love your palette!

B. Johansen Newman said...

Don, I actually work on the whole book at the same time, too, as was suggested. I get stir crazy laboring over the same piece for any length, and I need to put paint down on something else.

I keep everything hanging up, so when I am working on one piece, I can stare at the others from time to time. The whole studio is filled with paintings in various stages of completion. I find I get the oppostie feeling you do: the more I actually at least BEGIN, the farther along I feel I am.

Also, I find that getting away from a piece for a week or so, helps me to look with fresh eyes.

I love hearing how others work, though. Glad you posted about it.

jfm said...

Beautiful work! - please post some more images as you progress with the book. It looks like you do an initial undercoat of warm beige; is that right?