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Matilda the Witch, Book 2

Yes!  It’s the long-awaited sequel!

Matilda Grumkin, our favorite bumbling young witch from the first book, Matilda Grumkin in the Shopping List, has returned with her side-kick black cat, Newt, for a new adventure in the second book, Matilda Grumkin in A Day at the Beach.

The illustration process is still underway; however, I can give you a sneak preview of the artwork and a hint at the plot.  This time around, Matilda has big plans to fly off to her favorite seaside cove and fly kites.  But it’s raining.

Matilda tries to fly a kite indoors using a Magic Spell; but, as you know from the first book, Matilda’s spells very often go awry.  Matilda does get the beach, where she sculpts in the sand, goes swimming, hosts a picnic, and tries out her new invention: the Kite Caster Blaster.  Each activity becomes its own misadventure!

Stay tuned for the release date of Matilda’s new book, written by Thomas and Aubrey Maynard and illustrated by yours truly.

Scary Things

As a boy, I was terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys in the classic film “The Wizard of Oz”.  Every year the movie would be rebroadcast on TV, and every year I would have nightmares for days or weeks thereafter.

My young brothers and I convinced ourselves that the Wicked Witch was watching us at night through the old fashioned heating vent on the bathroom floor.  We were sure that eventually, as we stood or sat peeing late at night, the evil old woman would reach from the vent to grab our ankles and haul us down into darkness.

“Bathroom Witch” on my portfolio page was drawn to commemorate those childhood terrors.  Actually, I added it here too, in the upper right hand corner, so you don’t need to scroll back.

I tried to somewhat imitate the style of Edward Gorey (above), another artistic hero of mine, with intricate “crosshatching” and spooky shadow.

The perspective of the room intentionally opens outward like a stage set.  I debated whether to have our lad standing bare bottomed at the toilet with his back to the witch or sitting on the porcelain throne facing her, his bare feet just out of reach.  Such are the artistic choices when composing a scene.

Again, a little “edge” to counterbalance the sweetness of other illustrations.

 

Now that I’m a grey-bearded grownup, I’ve learned that there are scarier things than the Wicked Witch of the West.  Donald Trump is President and he is sabre-rattling with another pudgy world leader with bad hair in North Korea.  That beats flying monkeys any day!

Now, now, don’t get upset.  I admitted in an earlier blog post that I am a “Progressive” (formerly known as Liberal).  I also drew caricatures of Obama, Clinton, Reagan, and Carter.  Sorry, you’ll have to scroll back to look at those again.

So, for me, The Donald rolling back health care, eliminating environmental protections in the name of profit, or playing nuclear “chicken” with volatile dictators is rather unsettling to say the least.

Add to this the long-running joke — dating back to the presidential campaign — about Trump’s supposed small hands, and you have the perfect opportunity for a cartoon!

Behold, the infamous “T-Wrecks”!  Trump wrecks everything he stomps all over…or Twitters about in his 3 a.m. tirades.

Scary yes; but also funny.

Bling For Dogs

My journey through the possibilities of beads and charms took another unique and fascinating twist when I was introduced to the entrepreneur, Jim Broshat.

Jim had worked for 18 years as an executive at Target, and then launched several of his own successful ventures.  Now, he had another enterprising idea.  What if we could capture that special “shared experience” between a dog and its owner — literally!

The shared moments and feelings — sweet and hilarious — captured in beautiful charms that BOTH dog and owner could wear together!  Who’d ever thought of THAT before?

Bling for dogs!  Brilliant, right?

This is the leather dog collar with a silver chain that unclasps to add or remove charms.  You can see some of the charms too: a Frisbee, bone, paw, and a dog riding in a car with its head happily out the window!

Here is the first of several styles of bracelets so that the pet owner can wear the charms too:  it’s literally a “shared” experience!

That’s the name of the company on the beautiful blue center heart:  Bella & Beau.  And you can see more examples of the sparkling charms, from “Spa Day” (a doggie bath), to bones and birthstone beads with genuine Swarovski crystals.

“Yours Truly” was the Design Artist once again.  Here is an example of my original artwork and the finished product: ah yes, the dreaded Cone of Shame.

 

For a little color in our collection, here’s a pink-and-white enamel Dog Carrier with its fluffy occupant.  First, the original artwork; then, the finished bead.

Since I’m a self-professed Geek (see earlier entry), I particularly love the Superhero dog charms.  “It’s a plane, it’s a bird, noooo, it’s Superdog!”  Or, the one and only Canine Crusader!

 

Then again, I warned you that I cannot resist a good pun!

 

Speaking of puns, I also wrote the “stories” for each bead design.  Included with every purchase, you receive a Story Card with the original artwork and a little story.

 

Lastly, perhaps a little potty humor.  This wicked little design is called “Drinks On Me” and, again, here’s the drawing and the finished B&B charm.

 

There’s so MUCH more!

Below you can see a Dog Whistle, a Fire Hydrant (called “Pee Mail”), a rawhide chew, a Pooper Scooper, a Frisbee, and a “Peace-Love” Dog Tag.  If you would like to see the full collection — or, maybe, purchase some doggie charms for yourself and your Best Friend — go online to bellabeau.net

Zombies and Egg Nog

Life does indeed come full circle.

I began this blog telling you about my six years of experience as Senior Design Artist for Chamilia beads and jewelry.  Who knew that charms and beads would also dominate my freelance career for years?

I’ve been privileged to provide occasional freelance designs for Ohm Beads of Seattle.  They are a great bunch of creatives with a very loyal customer following that call themselves “Ohmers”.

Ohm Beads are a bit edgier in style and humor than Chamilia.  I learned this when I was commissioned to design a series of Zombie beads for Ohm — well, this being Ohm, they are spelled “Zohmbie” beads.

Ohm wanted me to create an entire story around these “Zohmbie” characters.  On my portfolio page, you can see the rather bloody poster I drew that tells that story.  Ha!  It’s the first time I’ve had a client say, “More blood and gore, please!”

Above, you can see the multi-view drawings for the female character, Lucy Lifeless (“she’ll love you to pieces”).  And here’s the finished bead.  Now THAT’S pretty cool, eh?

There was a male character too, Chase Skinner (“he’s looking to get ahead”).  They owned a Killer Kitty, drank DeCappuccinos and Vicious Vapors (“good for whatever is eating you”) and settled into a “mindless routine”.  These were so much fun!  Here are a few more of the drawings.

And, then again, the resulting bead.  You can find these beads, and some “Zohmbie” weapons, along with all the great Ohm Beads collections in their online catalog.

 

I was also commissioned to design some Christmas and Winter-themed beads for Ohm.  They already had plenty of the cheerful Christmas stuff, so I went with Scrooge: a literal “Bah Hum-BUG!”

I love how they cleverly photographed the Hum-Bug bead for their website with a lump of coal.  Nice job, kids!

I created some Snowmen characters — and an accompanying poster story — a pair of Ice Dancers, a tumbling Snow Skier and a broken leg cast, and it’s own story, and more.

In the upper right corner of this entry, you’ll find another poster story called “Get Your Nog On”.

Some barnyard animals throw a Christmas Party and each contributes to the Nog.  The cow provides the milk, the chicken provides the egg, and the wise old owl brings the booze.  By the time Santa shows up, the animals are feeling no pain!

Here is the bead that went with that story.

3D Puzzles

As I continue in this blog to show you a wide variety of drawing skills and applications, I must certainly again include Product Design.

Awhile ago, I was enlisted to design a couple of cardboard animal puzzles:  a Karate Kangaroo and a Snow Skiing Polar Bear.

The artwork required by the client consisted of the various puzzle pieces — front and back — and an illustration demonstrating their assembly.

The size specifications were very precise.  This little puzzle creation would be tucked inside a plastic egg and covered with chocolate!  Once the child ate the chocolate treat, they would find the puzzle “prize” inside.

The assembled cardboard animal also had to be sufficiently balanced to then stand on its own.  Very interesting challenge!

Steampunk and Historical

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a nut for history, costumes, and historical reenactments, especially Medieval and Renaissance.  I love the Golden Age of Pirates too.

My new favorite is Steampunk which, to the uninitiated, could be described as “19th century retro-futuristic”.

This mix of posh Victorian fashion, steam-driven gadgetry, and the wild American West — flavored with fantastical futuristic devices like ray-guns and time-travel — make this an exciting era when anything seemed possible.

The examples in this entry are not Steampunk per se (no gadgets, gears, goggles, or weaponry); but these sketches ARE elegantly Victorian in the form of a proper tea-sipping English flea, and a Basset Hound gentleman escorting a Grande Dame Hen (she reminds me of the Dowager Duchess from Downton Abbey).

More of these projects please!

Victorians

 

Kids Being Kids

Drawing children FOR children is a special challenge.

The illustrations need to be lively, expressive, and fun to attract the young reader in the first place.

Then, subtly, the illustrations must be true to the feelings and actions of the young reader so that they will identify with the characters.

Once the youngster is transported into the magic realm of the story — and its art — lessons can be taught in the guise of entertainment.

Sometimes authors prefer a more “realistic” style of illustration, believing, perhaps, that humorous drawings do not take the story seriously enough.

I’m certainly biased, but I believe that cartoon illustrations catch the reader unawares and convey all levels of emotional impact through humor.

Indeed, as I look back on my own favorite childhood reading experiences, I think many of the best ones involved cartoons — from Dr. Seuss to Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things — from Charles Schultz to Curious George and Disney.

 

In this blog entry, I offer you my sketches of kids being kids.

A little redheaded girl on a swing, two sisters quarreling over a Teddy Bear, and a Mom and daughter baking together.

This last sketch is significant as I try to include more ethnic diversity in my drawing.  These are “quickie” sketches again, utilized to clarify characters for a client; however, hopefully you can see that these light, witty cartoons also convey a variety of authentic and evocative emotions.

Cartoons are a “serious” art form.

Mom & Daughter

Fantasy

Ever since I first stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia or trudged with Bilbo and Frodo through Middle Earth, I have loved the genre of fantasy.

As a child, I read a book about a boy who traveled through time to meet Robin Hood, King Arthur, and other fantasy characters.  I LOVED that book (though, sadly, I’ve long forgotten the title).  Later, dragons, fairies, and science fiction expanded my fantasy universe.

 

Alice in Wonderland was another early fantasy influence.  Below is my artwork for a magical kingdom wherein warrior rabbits in armor guard an ancient oak crowned with stone towers.

The illustration is for a book written by a seven-year-old presumably based upon a version of herself.  The girl in the story steps into a puddle and falls and falls and falls still deeper into a “Wonderland” place filled with fantastical creatures.

The drawing above to the right is her plunge into that puddle.

 

On a different whimsical note, here’s a sweet little sketch of a goblin and a fairy making nice.

Or perhaps you’d prefer a pirate and a snail crossing swords (well, that’s what the client wanted, though I doubt snails have arms).

Here’s a little Twilight Zone for you:  a young boy suspects that the new baby just might be an alien!

And, below, from a futuristic fantasy project, a sketch of wise old “Yoda-like” toads.  Fantasy illustration requires an ethereal sort of magic in its rendering.  Perhaps that is why it remains my favorite genre.

Yoda Toads

“Quickies” Continue

As a freelance illustrator, the challenge of auditioning for representation and for new clients is continual.

As an artist, I may prefer the creative solitude of my drawing tablet, some stimulating music or NPR, and the infinite world of imagination wherein I may wave my magic pen and conjure characters and stories from thin air.

Ah, but there are bills to pay and wonderful projects still in the minds of clients I have not yet met– like you, perhaps–thus, the process of seeking, promoting, proposing, and working the “business side” of creativity is ever ongoing.

 

An essential part of that process is the “quickie” sketch to show a potential client how I might address their specific needs.

Not every client can look at my general portfolio and see how it applies to their own business or story.  Thus, the “quickie” sketch!  Maybe something like this:  a Koala Bear business traveler for an Australian company.  Suddenly, an idea takes form!

Below, and in the upper right corner, are a few more “quickie” samples.  Dogs and cats seem to be a popular theme.  A cat waiter serving a mouse, a baseball playing ferret, an eaglet adopted by chicks…oh how we love “critters” for story telling!

Frankie Ferret    Eagle & Chicks

A Bewitching Children’s Book

As I mentioned earlier in this blog, children’s books are my favorite category of illustration.  Fantasy children’s books—featuring mythical creatures, magical spells, the impossible made tangible—are my favorite stories of all.

It’s been my privilege and delight to work this past summer on a new children’s book written by the husband-and-wife team of Thomas and Aubrey Maynard.

The book features an endearing–but slightly bumbling–young witch named Matilda Grumkin, who has just graduated from Witchery University.  Matilda is eager to begin her new career as a full-fledged good witch.

Firstly, she must acquire the appropriate tools, clothing, and accessories of a “real witch”.

So, Matilda makes a Shopping List of needed items which includes:  a pointy hat, a flying broomstick, a cauldron, a black cat, potions, and much more, and heads out on her first bewitching adventure.

Of course, I don’t want to give away ALL of the story; however, I can’t resist sharing a couple of the illustrations in my portfolio section and a couple more here in this blog entry.

In the upper right, you’ll see the hand-drawn front cover.  Below, Matilda chooses the perfect Crystal Ball to check off her list.  Not too big, not too small.

On my portfolio page, you’ll see Matilda selecting a Book of Spells at her favorite bookstore, and then, back home, attempting to follow the book’s instructions to cast her first solo spell.  I’ll give you a hint.  The results are not exactly what she intended.

I hope you find these drawings delightful.  I had great fun creating them.  Better yet, I hope you’ll buy the book.  I’m told a series is envisioned.

If you are an author, publisher, or Art Rep seeking to create fantastical adventures for young imaginations, my wizardly tools await you.