It's always exciting to get the first printed books in the mail. After months of a studio full of art boards in progress, wet paint and gallons of coffee (not part of the painting process but very necessary), the final product is a welcome payoff. Buddy finally arrived!
Now, let's look at how Buddy arrived. After reading the story manuscript and creating sketches for the characters, a full length book dummy was created. When the book sketches were finalized, the painting process began.
I created a production line of boards with images of each page. I taped the edges with low-tac tape to keep that area clean and white. Then, an underpainting with brown acrylic paint was washed (thin layers) onto the boards. I usually do this when the final art is created with oil paint. The acrylic and polymer layers sealed the paper board from the oils and gave me a good (light and dark) value study to follow.
At this stage, the studio was full of artwork covering every flat space to be found. I have a drying rack for storing work in progress but I like to see everything laid, side by side.
Here is the title page. The towel area on the left was used for copyright and publishing information. The title was placed on the wall, above the bathtub. Notice the pajamas are visible, just below the towel. I often use elements and story props to hint at what's coming on the following page(s).
Here is one of the illustration spreads. One of my favorite images of the book.
This was my table, somewhere under the shingles of drying illustrations. The images were at various stages of completion so Buddy's hair looks really dark on the bottom image, etc. I worked on several paintings at a time and all art started to finalize toward the end of the process....which is also called..."the deadline" (If all goes as planned). It was a fairly long process and sometimes hard to see the end when spending days painting little parts, adjusting colors and adding detail. But eventually, it all came together and a package with the final art of Buddy's Bedtime Battery traveled to Random House.
Then, months later, I get to see the book on NBC, being read to millions of TV viewers. How COOL is that? So exciting! ...So surreal! ...Yay, Buddy!
...deep breath...now, back to the drawing board. :)