Thursday, November 29, 2012

Glorious Black and White

I usually think in color...vibrant, saturated color. What scares me just a little bit, but not enough to back down from a challenge, is black and white. Lately, I've been receiving some nudges to include more black and white work in my portfolio...along with more traditionally hand drawn work. When Tomie dePaola's Award guidelines popped up a few months ago on the SCBWI website, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to experiment.

It took me that long to finish reading The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Between getting married, commissions, my day job, and's really, really hard to find time to read! And no, I have never read this book before and had only a vague idea of what might happen.*

The hardest part was choosing one scene out of the entire book to illustrate. You could take it in any direction because there are really funny moments (Fodder-Wing and his antics and the way they poke fun at Ma Baxter), really tender moments (between Jody and his father), hard times (a violent week long noreaster, a vicious plague, or fire), and internal thoughts of a child coming of age.

In the end, I chose...well, the end...but not the part where he has to (SPOILER) put an end to his beloved pet's life.

To me, the story was really about a son's adoration and admiration for his father. When Jody felt like Penny turned on him, that's really why he suffered. He had nobody left to trust. In the end, the only thing that could get him out of it was realizing that his father was right (and nearly starving to death in the process).

Maybe I'm getting too deep, here...but hey, I have to explain why I chose this scene!

I wanted to show a totally different emotion than I normally show in my hopes that the honesty will show through. Not every moment in life is carefree, there are hard times too.

I used scanned pencil and brush pen sketches in combination with Photoshop to make this piece. Here are a few of the scanned images, see if you can find them in the final:

There's something really soft and natural about pencil shading. You'll be seeing lots more of this type of work out of me in the next few months!

There are already so many lovely submissions for the 2013 Tomie dePaola Award. Houston Illustrator, Diandra Mae is caretaker of the unofficial online gallery. I'll be crossing my fingers, but mostly I'm just proud of myself for submitting this year after ogling from the sidelines for too long. :) 

Good luck to all!


*Funny Story: I was nearing the end of the book and one day while perusing Twitter I saw a conversation that read: "What's the name of the book about the boy who has to kill a deer?" to which someone replied "The Yearling?" Thus... the ending of a book written in 1938 -spoiled by modern technology! It really was funny!


  1. This is breathtaking! In my mind it's the winner! You should be proud!!!

  2. So beautiful, Renee! It's so different from what you usually do, but still very you. You should definitely do more of this in my opinion :) Good luck!

  3. This piece is really spectacular. Good for you getting out of your comfort zone. I hope we'll hear a bit more about technique in future posts. I use completely traditional media, so any info you'd like to share is fascinating to me. Good luck.

  4. Thank you so much ladies. <3

    I've been working on this style for quite a while now, it's so great to hear that you like it. It means the world to me :)

    Joanne - I will try to do more of a process post sometime soon, though, I'm still figuring out the process, myself!

  5. Beautiful! And very inspiring. I love your pencil shading. And I really love the graphic shapes of the other plants as a contrast to the softness of the graphite.
    Good luck! it's great that you submitted. I couldn't get my act together. :(