Wednesday, October 28, 2015

drawing portrait of activist Frederick Douglass

Earlier today I created a portrait drawing of Abraham Lincoln… then this afternoon I decided it needed a companion piece, so I also created this portrait drawing of Frederick Douglass (1817 - 1895), the man who was enslaved, escaped, and became an antislavery activist before and during the American Civil War -and was invited to participate in discussions with President Lincoln on the problems of slavery in the country. 

 Like the "Abe" portrait the Frederick Douglass drawing was creating with crayon, ink, gouache, then scanned into Photoshop where I painted in digital color. 

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Abe -my drawing portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Posted here is my simple, no frills drawing of President Abraham Lincoln… Honest Abe -with his humble birth-place log cabin home seen in the background. 
I always have a ton of material, books, etc… all making a mess of my drawing table, such that I have to always push stuff out of the way to make space on the surface to actually make my art. This morning I just happened to have an old 1958 encyclopedia with all the important information on things starting with the letter “L” -so I flipped it open and was thumbing through and came to a striking photograph of President Abraham Lincoln.
I picked up a piece of paper, and with an orange crayon roughed in the sketch of Abe using the photo as my reference… and obviously I exaggerated Abe’s leanness. This took about ten minutes. Then I used a brown ink “pen-brush” to further delineate his face, followed by darkening some lines and areas with a black pen-brush, this process taking about another ½ hour. I scanned the drawing into Photoshop where in stacked layers I painted the color digitally. (the lettering of “Abe” was also done digitally) Maybe another half hour in all. Done. 
Normally I do not work that quickly unless I am just sketching of doodling… but in this case case I simply wanted to breeze through doing this portrait in a short period of time and move on with my day… I came out nicely.
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Friday, October 23, 2015

current picture book project: Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates

It seems I alway have one foot in the current year (2015), and the other foot in some other era depending on whatever picture book I am working on! 

For example in 2012 - 2013 I was working on the intense illustrations for the picture book, The Fantastic Ferris Wheel (written by Betsy Harvey Kraft -release date October 2015 by Christy Ottaviano Books) -the true life story about American engineer George Ferris, creator of the first giant observation wheel built for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and nicknamed, of course, the Ferris Wheel! I was immersed in the iron and steel, steam powered world of 1890's America... the fashions, architecture, and design of everyday objects like telephones, automobiles, phonographs, horse-drawn wagons, steam trains, etc...  See my earlier post on the making of the illustrations for The Fantastic Ferris Wheel

Then in 2014 and straddling into 2015, I was working on the illustrations for the upcoming picture book, The Kid from Diamond Street (written by Audrey Vernick -release date spring 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) which is the true life story about a girl from Philadelphia name Edith Houghton who at age ten (in 1922) became a professional baseball player! -and at age 13 (in 1925) played for an all-female American baseball team that toured Japan competing against their male teams. Later in her adult life Edith Houghton became the first female scout for Major League Baseball! So while working on the illustrations for that book my mind is filled with the fashions and automobiles of the roaring '20's decade. See my earlier post sneak peek at the cover of The Kid From Diamond Street

Now, suddenly, I am working on my next picture book project, Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates (written by April Jones Prince -release date 2017 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux) the whimsical retelling of the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears... but this time with a fun pirate spin. So of course all during the preliminary sketch stage process my mind is filled with period sailing ships, cannons, swords, treasure chests, skull & crossbones, peg legs, and all the pirate era accessories... in an effort to bring my illustrative flavor to this tale. 

Posted here are a handful of the preliminary sketches and character studies. I just this week sent off all the final sketches to the editor on this book at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Margaret Ferguson. So once the back and forth fine tuning of the sketches is concluded, hopefully in the beginning of November I'll be commencing with the final illustrations. Once the entire illustration process is fully concluded, and submitted a more detailed posting on the sketches and final art images.

preliminary sketch: introducing the three menacing pirates

preliminary sketch: Goldenlocks is lured to the pirate's sloop

preliminary sketch: the three pirates searching ship for the intruder

character study: developing Papa and Baby pirate

character study: developing Mama pirate

character study: developing Goldenlocks

And in-between all the above picture book projects, I also illustrated my very own story WILD CHILD ...which was released by Abrams Books for Young Readers in August of 2015.

It's the fun romp about the scariest animal of them all in the jungle -and how all the other animals do their best to try and tame it, otherwise there will never be any peace and quiet in the jungle ever again. To date I have illustrated 24 picture books, and Wild Child is the fourth book as both the author & illustrator. Here's the cover!

WILD CHILD -written & illustrated by Steven Salerno

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