Friday, February 27, 2009

Children's Book Illustration for Dusty's Beary Tales

This is another fun watercolor illustration I did for the book Dusty’s Beary Tales.



Today Doc was going to show Dusty how to make earthworm stew. It was the best medicine for a sick possum. Dusty had gotten up at dawn to collect one hundred worms as Doc had instructed and his bucket was full at last.

Dusty whistled a happy tune, his mind on making stew, as he walked toward Doc’s cabin. The faint noise brewing overhead didn’t get his attention. That’s why the squirrel’s ambush took him by surprise. Dusty’s head was the target.

The little squirrel hit his mark! In a flash, the squirrel disappeared down dusty’s shirt. He tickled Dusty until he collapsed into a giggling heap covered with squirming worms.

It was hard to believe this was the same squirrel who had been run over by a delivery cart…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lesson #17 Linear and Aerial Perspective

These are some of the tools I use to help me draw circular shapes in the right perspective. They are called ellipse templates, or circle and ellipse guides, and are available at most art supply stores or college book stores.

We all know what a circle looks like. It’s round! Like a dinner plate. But if you take that dinner plate and put a little runny pudding on it and hold it at eye level (don’t tip it or you will spill the pudding!) it looks flat, rather than round, doesn’t it? Now if you raise that dinner plate up over your head (Don’t spill the pudding!) and look up underneath, the bottom of the plate looks round. If you lower it a little but not all the way to eye level, it looks oval-shaped.

Circles and ovals are measured by degrees from 0 (zero) to 80. 0 is flat like a line (like looking at a plate sideways at eye level) and 80 is a perfect circle (like looking at the underside of a plate high over your head or the top of the plate on the floor at your feet).

Let’s start by drawing two lines, a vertical line and a horizontal (horizon) line. Review a previous lesson about this if you need to.

The horizontal line is 0˚ (zero degrees). If we were to stack a bunch of plates high into the sky (above the horizon line) or down into a deep hole (below the horizon line) and look at how round they look as they get higher and higher (or lower and lower) the degree of roundness goes from 0˚ (zero) to 80˚.

I’m going to start with a 10˚ template and position it just below the horizon line along the vertical line on my paper. Now I’ll draw a 10˚ ellipse with using the template as my guide.

I’m going to draw two more ellipses under this first one (20˚ and 35˚), each one getting more round, the lower I go. And I will do the same on top of the horizon line, each ellipse getting more round, the higher I get (Between the 10˚ and 35˚ellipse is every degree in between – 15, 20, 25, and 30˚ - but I only need to select a few).

Now let’s make a ground well by drawing another vertical line, then draw a 10˚ ellipse along it just below the horizon line. Then draw a 15˚ ellipse just under it.

Connect the outer sides of the two ellipses with two vertical lines using your triangle.

Draw another ellipse (freehand) inside the top one. This is the well wall.

I have selected a vanishing point along the horizon line to the right of my vertical line. Do you see the little dot where my triangle intersects with my horizon line? I have also intersected my triangle at two places on the top of the well wall and made two little marks with my pencil (On the top of the wall, one mark left of the vertical line and one mark right of the vertical line – the front of the well and the back of the well). The two posts for the well roof will start here. Draw them with vertical lines upward.

Put a little dot directly above the front post where you want the tip of the roof to be.

Now choose where you want the base of the roof to be and draw a short horizontal line with your ruler or T-square.

Draw two angled lines from the dot at the tip of the roof to each side of the roof intersecting your short horizontal roof base line. And draw the top of the roof with your triangle on the vanishing point from the tip and end just above your second post.

Draw the base of the roof using the vanishing point from the point where the bottom of your right angled line joins the short horizontal line. With your triangle draw the back part of the roof with and angled line to match the front part of the roof.

So we have well water in the ground. How about a water tower above the ground? Draw another vertical line and two more ellipses (30˚ and 35˚) a little higher up. Remember, the higher up – the higher the degree ellipse.

Now draw two vertical lines connecting the outer edges of the ellipses, some vertical lines for legs, freehand criss-cross lines to represent braces. I wrote the word “water tower” keeping the shape of ellipse in mind. I drew some stones on the well wall, a bucket on the ground, and a sign on a stick that says “well”.

Now for a little landscaping on the house we did last week.

Here we have two trees. They are drawn the same size but can you tell which one is bigger? Which one is closer?

Let’s put one in a pot using what we just learned about ellipses.

Add more foliage by keeping in mind size and overlapping. There is so much more about perspective – we’ve just begun!

But we’ll take a little break next week… and I think I’ll answer some email questions I’ve been getting!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Children’s Book Illustration of Hoedown in Honey Pine Woods

This is another watercolor illustration from the children’s book, Dusty’s Beary Tales.

The Beary family cellar was filled to the brim with food…it had been a very good year!

Time to strike up the band and have a hoedown! Reverend Berryhill got everything started with a Thanksgiving blessing:

Father God, you created every berry, nut, and tree. You created my family and friends, and you created me. You’re the god of the Honey Harvest and all that is good, true, and loving. For all these things and more, help us to be truly grateful. Amen!

Food, music, ice cream, dancing, singing, games, softball, fireflies, and fireworks!

They shared their abundance with their neighbors and knew no bear or cubby would go hungry this winter.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Watercolor Illustration of The Beehive and Mr. McGruder

Another children’s book illustration from Dusty’s Beary Tales.


Summer Vacation! The bear cubs swarmed out of the little red schoolhouse like bees in search of honey.

…they cut through Mr. McGruder’s place. Mr. McGruder was a gruff old bear. The cubs called him “Old Grizzle Face” because he snarled like a mean old grizzly bear when he got mad.

Then it happened. Thunk! Dusty ran head first into a huge beehive that dangled from a tree branch…


We had an interesting coincidence while researching this scene. Just about the time I started gathering reference pictures of beehives, a nice swarm of bees began building a hive on a tree branch beside our driveway. We watched their progress for a few days and then began planning to move them to a box on the back edge of our property. Then, without warning, they abandoned the half-built hive and flew away. We surmised that too many ants were invading their hive.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lessson #16 Linear Perspective Continued

Let’s start right where we left off last time! Remember our long horizontal line with a vanishing point on the left side and on the right (Review lesson #15)?


Let’s make some windows and a door on our building. Pick a place you want a window to be and draw two vertical lines on the right side of your building with your triangle (braced on the bottom by a T-square or horizontally level ruler).

Decide where you want the top and bottom of your window to be and draw those two lines with your ruler positioned from the right vanishing point (just like we did for the floor and ceiling of the building in the last lesson).


Now pick a place for a door and two more windows on the right side of the building. Draw them in with virtical lines, and then with horizontal lines using the right vanishing point.

For a big window on the left side of the building draw two vertical lines for the sides of the window and two lines for the top and bottom of the window using the left vanishing point.

Let’s make them French-style windows by drawing some horizontal lines for the window panes using the left vanishing point for the windows on the left side of the building, and the right vanishing point for the windows on the right side of the building.

Using your triangle and level ruler (or T-square) draw vertical lines to complete the panes.

You can also draw in the top of the door just as you did the top of the windows and just “free hand” a little window in the door for fun.

And the attic needs a vent! Let’s put one up high on the left side of the building using your triangle for the vertical lines and the left vanishing point for the top and bottom of the tiny vent.

And we need a chimney, don’t we? Using the right vanishing point draw in a short horizontal line in a short distance in from the right edge of the roof.

Connect the end of that line with another short line up to the top of the roof, the same angle as the right side slant of the roof.

Now make three virtical lines with your triangle, one from where the two lines intersect on the corner of the roof; one up from the side of the roof just a tad lower than where your first line hits the side edge; and the third just a tad to the left of where your slanted line ends at the top of the roof.

Now to top off the chimney: Put your pencil on the top tip of the middle line and draw a horizontal line using your left vanishing point until it intersects with the left virtical line of your chimney.

Next put your pencil on top of the middle line of your chimney and draw a horizontal line using your right vanishing point until it intersects with the top of the right virtical line of your chimney. There! You just did a very complex thing!

Lets use your imagination and draw a “free hand” sidewalk Remember, the sidewalk looks a little wider as it comes at you. Use your right vanishing point to draw in the trowel lines because the sidewalk is coming from the right side of the building.

Now let’s put on some siding. Make little marks at even distance from each other on the station point line as a guide for the slats of siding. Using your ruler and the left vanishing point for the left side of the building and the right vanishing point for the right side of the building draw in the horizontal lines representing siding.


Free hand a little door knob. And erase the little roof lines in the chimney.

Now let’s make sure it’s a brick chimney by starting at the middle chimney line and drawing horizontal lines to the left using the left vanishing point and to the right using the right vanishing points.

And end by drawing short little virtical lines to make it look like bricks. You can also make round-ish little circles to look like a stone chimney instead of brick.

For a challenge you can practice with a two story building if you’d like.

Next week we’ll landscape our building! Are you having fun?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Children's Book Illustration in Watercolor from Dusty's Beary Tales

This is an introduction to another chapter in Dusty’s Beary Tales, a children’s book I illustrated in watercolor.

It was a lazy summer day in the woods…They sat down and dipped their bare feet into the cool blue water of Great Bear Lake.

Rusty studied the pile of rocks between them. He picked one up, with a quick motion he sent the rock sailing, skipping across the water five times before it finally sank.

Imagine spending a week in the backwoods, surrounded by nothing but honey! And bees! Beekeeping was a proud Beary family tradition. Each summer they made the big trip into the backwoods…

The big day finally arrived…for the honey harvest!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Watercolor Greeting Card Illustration

The birth of a friend's baby prompted me to paint this greeting card a few years ago. Since this is the only painting I have with a heart on it, I decided to post it the day before Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lesson # 15 Linear Perspective Continued

There is perspective in everything we see, think, and do. The world revolves around our perspective. We are here where we think and experience things. And we look over there (somewhere else) to see what is there and what’s going on! But we are not over there. We see, hear, and experience what’s going on over there from our perspective here! As an artist, we try to create here or there, close or far, spacial illusions... perspective! Abstract art is another story for another day!

Today we will begin to construct a building.

You will need a piece of paper, tape, pencil, long ruler (a yardstick is good), and triangle (cut a square 10” x 10” piece of cardboard diagonally from corner to corner using a straight edge guide and you will have two triangles), and a T-square, if you have one (but it's not absolutely necessary).

Tape each corner of your paper to the drawing table and draw a level horizontal line somewhere across it from side to side. You may place your line in the middle of the paper, up higher, or down lower. I have placed mine near the middle.

This line is called the horizon line, where the sky meets the ground, or where the wall meets the floor!

Now, continue an imaginary line off your paper to infinity...! Somewhere along that imaginary line, on either side of your paper, draw a dot on little piece of paper 8 – 12 inches from the side edges of your drawing paper (I used two post-its). Make sure your dots are level with the horizon line on your drawing paper. I have uses a ruler to extend my lines and place my dots.

These two dots, one on each side, are called vanishing points.


Now with your triangle, draw a shorter virtical line anywhere across your horizon line. You may put it in the middle of the paper or a little bit to the left or right. But do not place it all the way to the edge of your paper. The top of this line will be the top of an outside wall and the bottom of this line will be the bottom of an outside wall. You can decide if you want a tall building or a short building. But leave plenty of room above and below the line for the roof and the foreground. Use a level ruler to rest and slide the bottom of your triangle along to make all your vertical lines straight up and down. If you have a T-square this makes it easier. The bottom point of this line is called a station point. This is the point that anchors your drawing. It’s fun to experiment by placing this point (and first vertical line) at various places and see how your perspective drawing is affected!).

Align the top of your long ruler with the top point of this virtical line and the right vanishing point and draw a line on your paper. Now, do the same and align the top of your ruler with the bottom point of this same vertical line and the right vanishing point.

Do the same with the vertical line and the left vanishing point.

Now decide where you want your walls to end and draw two virtical lines with your triangle somewhere between the two vertical lines on either side of the station point.


Notice the four corners of the wall on the left side of the station point. Draw straight lines from corner to corner to criss-cross that wall.

There is a point in the middle where those two lines intersect. Use that point to draw a virtical line up to make another point where you want the top of your roof to be.

Connect the top roof point with a line down to each pint at the top corners of criss-crossed wall.

Now we will begin to draw the back of the building to find the points to know where to draw the top of the roof!

With your ruler, draw a line from the top left corner point of the wall


…to the right vanishing point.

Do the same with the bottom left corner point to the right vanishing point.

Next, find the top right point of the right wall and draw a line to the left vanishing point. Do the same with the bottom right corner point to the left vanishing point.

Do you see where the two lines you just drew intersect with the lines at the back of the building you just previously drew? Make a dot at each of those intersections and draw a virtical line between them. Now you have another wall to criss-cross!

You know what to do! And then find the pint where they intersect in the middle and draw a virtical line upwards just like you did on the other side – but how far up? We don’t know yet…let’s find out!

Go back to the top point of your roof to the left of your station point line and draw a line from that point to the right vanishing point.

Do you see it cross the virtical line that comes up from the middle of your right wall? It should, if you made that virtical line long enough. Do it now if you didn’t.


Now connect the right roof top with a line to each of the top points of the right wall.


There you have it…a glass house! You can see right through it (and so can your neighbors!).

Let’s fix that, and erase all the lines we don’t need.

But we can’t get into the building, can we? It has no doors or windows! We’ll learn how to do that next week.

And I will try to be efficient enough to post on Tuesday instead of Wednesday as I did this week. I am so sorry to have kept you waiting!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Illustrating for Non-Profit Organizations in Watercolor

This is a fun little book cover I illustrated in watercolor for a non-profit organization a few years ago. Sometimes I do pro-bono work, if I think the cause is worthwhile. This was for a multi-cultural poetry workshop for at-risk teen-aged girls.

I was really disappointed for the girls when the workshop was canceled at the last minute…and my time spent on this project was all for naught.

It was fun anyway, and I offered them six different versions to choose from. The first one in yellow and green was the original painting and I used photoshop to tweek the colors in the other variations.