Friday, June 26, 2015

New Book Release.." God Saves Jerusalem".

I love illustrating historic or nature oriented books especially.  Each project brings an opportunity to research and learn.  For this book I researched ancient Jerusalem via virtual tours and photos and looked at sculptural reliefs for clothing, chariots and the hanging gardens.  You won't see all of my research but it's all needed to get the feeling of time, place and character.

Illustrated by Steven James Petruccio

Author- Larry Burgdorf
Published by Arch Books, Concordia Publishing
(Click image to go to for purchase)

Some of the steps for this book...

Relief sculpture reference...

...pencil sketch...


...finished painting.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ask Me A Question...

I always welcome questions from students who want to know about what I do as an artist and illustrator.  I received some index cards in the mail with some interesting questions so I'm posting them here for you to see the kinds of things young people want to know.

Q:How did you get into this job?
A: I created a portfolio of my best work and showed it to Art Directors -  people who work at book publishing companies and match an illustrator with a good story - after a few years of trying I finally got to illustrate my first book, " Dr. Hilda Makes House Calls" for Golden Books.

Q:Do you like doing this for a living?
A: No.  I LOVE doing this for a living because I always wanted to be an artist!

Q:Why did you pick illustrating over any other other job?
A: Well, I was good at drawing - not coloring, I practiced a lot to get my colors to look good - and I liked it.  I knew it was a job that other people had and I thought, " If they can do it, so can I." ...and so I did!

Q:Were you a good drawer when you were a kid?
A: I wasn't any better than anyone else when I was very young but by the time I was in Second and Third Grade I was making pictures for my teachers and they would hang them in the classroom and hallways.
Thanks for the great questions Lauren!


Q:Do you like illustrating non-fiction or fiction better?
A: I like illustrating interesting stories. When I read a story and can visualize pictures for it, I'll illustrate it.

Q:How long have you been an illustrator or artist?
A:Illustrators are artists with a special tell stories with pictures.  We use our art skills to make the best pictures we can.  I've been drawing since I was a little boy but art became my job the year before I graduated from college, The School of Visual Arts in NYC, in 1983!

Q: Do you like to use darker or lighter colors?
A:I use whatever colors things really are or whatever color I want something to be.  I like colors that are not too bright but I like to add color to my shaded areas.
Thanks, Kylie.  Great questions!

Q: How many colors or shades of a color do you need for your average book?
A: I have 20 of my favorite colors on my painting palette but I don't always use all of them.  I like to mix my own colors to make them unique and interesting even when using digital media on my computer.  I might use about 10 colors for my average book since the characters and places usually stay the same, their color doesn't change much either.  Plus, keeping the colors the same from page to page makes the pictures look like they all belong together.
Thanks Xavier, very good question!

Ashlee :
Q:Do you do other art besides watercolor and pencil drawings?  And if you do what is it?
A:Yes, I do other paintings with acrylic paints and I used to use oil paints when I was just learning.  My paintings have been in many art exhibits too and sometimes people buy them to hang in their own homes.  I always paint things that I like no matter what it is or if anyone else likes it.  You can visit my website,, to see some of my paintings and see the large mural I painted for a local children's hospital.
Thanks for wanting to know about the other things I do with my art Ashlee!

Q:How long does it take you to draw a picture?
A: That depends on how complicated the picture is and how big it is.  Sometimes a picture needs lots of details in it so that takes a long time.  On average it takes me about 4 to 5 days to create one illustration that will appear on two pages in a book, a double page spread, using watercolor paints.  When I paint digitally it takes me a couple of days less.  I always take my time and do my best work even if it takes longer than I'd like.
Thanks for asking that Ashley...always do your best!

This question card had no name on it so if it's yours, here it is...
Q:Do you draw for fun or do you have to draw for books?
A:Drawing pictures for books IS fun for me!  Anytime I get to use my talents and skills, I'm having fun.  Remember, I practiced for many years and learned a lot of things to become a professional artist and illustrator so when I illustrate a book or make a painting that other people like it makes me feel good.

Q:How hard is it to draw a picture matching the words to the stories?
A:Well, this is the hard part because sometimes you can visualize what the characters, places and situations will look like right away after reading the manuscript of the story and at other times you have to sit, think and sketch over and over to get the character to look like what the author describes in only a few words.  Sometimes I have to do some research before I can draw things or use my imagination to picture how I want something to look but I always have to make things look like whatever the words are describing.  I also have to make every picture look interesting so readers don't get bored with the book.
That was an awesome question...whoever you are!

Thank you all so much for you're interesting questions and for wanting to learn what an illustrator's job is like.  I encourage you all to keep reading and keep a journal of your own writing and art even if you don't want it to be your's fun and it's good exercise for your own creativity!