About a year ago, I signed up for an online mentorship with E.B. Lewis. (http://eblewis.com/visual-mentor-learn-from-eb-lewis/) He's illustrated over 75 children's books including a Caldecott Honor book and 5 Coretta Scott King winners and has paintings in galleries throughout the U.S., France, and Luxembourg.
I had been struggling with my artwork and feeling stuck so I decided to take the plunge and sign up for his weekly 30-minute skype classes. 30 minutes might not sound very long, but he can pack a punch in that amount of time. He doesn't mince words and tells you exactly what you need to know even if sometimes you’re not sure you want to hear it. But since I'm a late bloomer in this industry, I don’t have time for glossing over, I need the facts. And that’s what he gave me.
In a nutshell, here are some of the main points:
More storytelling- act like a director of a movie and move around in the scene. Give different perspectives and angles.
More emotion, narrative, and anticipation. The illustration should make the viewer feel something and wonder what’s about to happen next.
Find references for everything. Not only photo references, but also look at how other artists approach the same lighting, color, poses, etc. (He often refers to Sargent, Rockwell, and Zorn to study.)
Push my values and lighting more.
Vary texture, color, and value to create a feeling of space on the page.
Stay consistent. In a picture book, everything has to be consistent from one page to the next.
I’m still struggling with these things and need to improve on them, but what a difference a year has made. There’s also something about having a homework assignment each week that helps me stay focused and makes me complete my work.
And during all this, my agent, Essie White with Storm Literary, sold my debut author/illustrator picture book, Big and Little to Holiday House (Due out 2019). I was also a finalist in the SCBWI Bologna Illustrators’ Gallery.
|SCBWI BIG Finalist 2018|
E.B. has helped me grow by leaps and bounds this year, and I plan on continuing with the mentorship. I still have much more to learn.
Below are some examples of the process.
|Each time I attempted this painting, I pushed the color, values, and composition.|