Friday, August 30, 2013

Did you know…?

Cover for "Father Goose: His Book" (1899) by L. Frank Baum.

…that L. Frank Baum was the original author of “Mother Goose?” He published MOTHER GOOSE IN PROSE as his very first book, in 1897. The book contained short stories based on familiar nursery rhymes, such as "Old King Cole," "Humpty Dumpty" and "Little Miss Muffett." Believe it or not, it was also the first book illustrated by Maxfield Parrish.

To complete the Goose family, Baum later released FATHER GOOSE: HIS BOOK (1899). Unlike “Mother Goose’s” nursery rhymes, “Father Goose” was a book of pure nonsense verse. It became the top-selling children's book in 1899 and sold over 75,000 copies. W.W. Denslow’s simple but charming illustrations for “Father Goose” are a delightful addition to Baum’s silly verse.

Here’s a bit of Father Goose’s nonsense:

Old Mother Goose became quite new,
And joined a Women's Club,
She left poor Father Goose at home
To care for Sis and Bub.
They called for stories by the score,
And laughed and cried to hear
All of the queer and merry songs
That in this book appear.
When Mother Goose at last returned
For her there was no use;
The goslings much preferred to hear
The tales of FATHER GOOSE.

– L. Frank Baum (from “Father Goose: His Book”.)

I actually find quite a bit a social critique in this verse. Remember that, at the time, women were campaigning for the right to vote. In the above poem, it’s made clear that the Goose children, at least, preferred their father’s nonsense tales to their mother’s advocacy.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another Milestone Reached

Things of quality come slowly, but come along they do. Today, I sent out the Book I manuscript to my beta readers. While they take a look at it, I’ll be finishing the remaining illustrations. I’m really looking forward to doing some drawing, and perhaps sneaking in a couple of new paintings using the casein I have just bought.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Where are we now? An update.

It is a well-known fact that as a project is wrapping up there will be delays. That seems to be the rule. In this case, within inches of having my manuscript for Book I out to the Beta readers, I was laid low with something remarkably like the flu. For DAYS!!! I’m on the other side of it now, but recovering slowly. This means returning to the tail ends of editing slowly too.  But that’s okay, it will all get done, eventually, and in perfect order.

The remaining illustration tally is as follows: one illustration in final pencils, yet to be inked. Two more full-page illustrations to complete after that. Then the internal cover art. I’m thinking of doing a table of contents title illustration too, but I'm not sure about that yet. So, not too bad really. I’m still pleased with the cover design I’ve got going. I think I’ll go with it, unless I have big change of heart.

FYI...I’ll be revealing the official book title here soon, so watch for that.

In the meantime, here’s a warm-up drawing I did today showing some of the characters from the book. No spoilers on who they are…yet. Tee-hee.

For now, though, here you go…
Pen & ink sketch, copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2013
(Please do not share, pin, copy, or use in any way
without express permission of the artist.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

L'illustration finale

When producing a manuscript for publication, it is recommended that you put the words, “THE END” after the final words of the story. Seems a bit silly to me, but I suppose it serves the function of letting a publisher know for sure that the story is now over. In the illustrated stories of the past, a small decorative illustration often accompanied the word, “FINIS,” at the end of a book. I am choosing to use this old convention for my illustrated novel.

I wanted my final drawing to match, thematically, the frontispiece of the book, which shows the heroine before the beginning of the story. The final drawing also relates to the heroine, and shows her knife and some details from her life growing up in a Yupik village in Alaska.

Here is my initial idea for the “Finis” drawing for Book I. It’s not yet the way I want it to be, but it’s pretty close.

"Finis" for Book I - WIP
by Sara Light-Waller copyright, 2013.
Each of the books in the series will have a similarly matched set of frontispiece and final drawings. Book II, for instance, will show the hero in the frontispiece and his pistols and sword in the concluding drawing.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Painting lessons from John Bauer

John Bauer, “The Castle of the Rosy Clouds.” (1911)

I recently discovered the works of Golden Age illustrator, John Bauer (1882 – 1918). Bauer was a Swedish painter and illustrator. Sadly, he died in a boat crash at the age of 36.  His work is charming and I decided to copy one of his illustrations to better understand how he painted.

One thing I’m learning about these early 20th century illustrators is that they preferred warm palettes to cool ones ones in their paintings. For my last painting (a copy of one Rene Bull’s illustrations from “The Arabian Nights” I used Schmincke Horadam watercolors for the first time. I really liked them. 
After Bauer, “The Castle of the Rosy Clouds,” by Sara Light–Waller, 2013.
7” x 9”, watercolor on canvas-wrapped board treated with Daniel Smith white watercolor ground.
This time I used Daniel Smith and Winsor Newton watercolors in pretty much the same palette colors to see which brands I liked better. After completing this newest painting, I’m still giving the nod of excellence to the Schmincke Horadam colors, although the Daniel Smith and Winsor Newton watercolor paints did just fine for me too.

My palette for this painting is quite limited. It was made up of nine colors only: WN Winsor Yellow, DS Scarlett Lake, DS Prussian Blue, DS French Ochre, DS Sepia, DS Hooker’s Green, DS Rose Madder Genuine, WN Ivory Black, Schmincke Horadam Titanium White gauche. (Note: WN = Winsor Newton, DS = Daniel Smith)

I'm pretty pleased with the result.

And by the way, I'm coming to really appreciate Prussian Blue. It rocks!