Into the Dreamlands

With November coming up, I’ve taken on the challenge of writing non stop through the month on both the second book in the Corvus Rex series as well as the second book in the Arcadia series with partner Kenneth Mader. It’s a welcome challenge as I work toward regaining the prolific push I used to have. Along with this, I’m adding on one more challenge. Art. Lots of art.

It all started with a practice drawing of a special little boy, the son of a friend who posted a photo that begged me to give it a try in the style that has been floating in my head for a while: a simple ink line piece, leaving some of the sketchy guide lines in. Simple but enough.

“Tristan” – my first simple ink in a long time. Simple but capturing so much.

My attempt was to awaken a piece of the artist in me that has gone quite a bit dormant. I’ve done so much tight portrait work and character study in the last few years that I felt I’d lost my edge on figures, let alone landscape and architecture work. So I’ve been drawing new inspiration from one of my favorite children’s illustrators, Trina Schartt Hyman. Her beautiful and lush layouts filled me with wonder as a child and still do, and she was not afraid to depict the darker side of fairy tales in many of them. My small library of about ten of her books barely scratches the surface on how much work she put out there, winning various awards including the Caldecott Medal. I gladly admit she had a generous influence on some of my own early work when I drew my characters in full form, armored up or in actual scenes that had a sense of movement to them. With a little help from the spirit of Mrs. Hyman and also an architectural painting course I’m working on, I hope to rekindle that wonder. I think my style paired with her inspiration could generate some beautiful illustrations, so I’m going to just see where this takes me. Juggling in an illustration here or there in November adds to the challenge, but it’s a welcome one, and I hope to be sharing something soon as I pick some of my favorite scenes from Corvus Rex, many of which will depict the Dreamlands as I see them. I’ll share this journey as I go, perhaps some of the process steps from layout sketch to final. I will start out likely using colored pencils and maybe some gouache paint, and maybe eventually I’ll be brave enough to use water colors as TSH did in hers.

My goal, as with setting a plot for a novel, is to grow, reclaim the artist’s path I used to follow more, and beat a new path along the way.

From Snow White, Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

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