Shawna Tenney invited me to participate in a blog tour about my writing process. This should have been posted a week or so ago but here goes. First I introduce Shawna.
Shawna Tenney graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Brigham Young University and started illustrating as a freelance illustrator a year later. Since then, she has created artwork for 18 books along with children’s magazines, charities, educational materials, religious materials and theater playbills. Her primary medium of choice now is digital. Lately her focus has been writing and illustrating her own stories.
Besides the process of making art, She enjoys being involved in the art community and has been running a monthly local illustration critique group. She is a volunteer at SCBWI and also enjoys teaching kids art and visiting children at local schools to talk about being an illustrator.
Shawna lives in Utah with her two very artistic little girls and a very sweet and supportive graphic designer husband. shawnajctenney.com
Now about my process.
First I transfer my character to my watercolor paper.
1. What am I working on?
A Picture Book. I am always working on a picture book. I love combining the pictures with the words. It is a journey that bounces back and forth from idea to book dummy to revisions of words and pictures.
A watercolor painting. One or two watercolor paintings bubble around in my brain. The paintings are fun to work on because you use your whole arm to put paint and water on the paper. It is a good break from the picture book puzzle. I just sent an entry to be juried for the National Watercolor Society’s International Exhibit. There’s always another painting to paint. It seems to be a good combination, the picture books and the watercolor paintings, because both projects need to be put aside to view with a fresh pair of eyes. The picture book is like a puzzle that finally comes together in a book dummy. I work on it until I feel confident about sending it to my agent. I am currently working on a Halloween picture book.
I start with the lightest watercolor making sure I save the whites.
2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?
I work with brushes, paint and paper. I love having a physical copy of my illustrations when I’m done. A lot of illustrators use the computer. The computer is a useful tool that I use for book dummy’s and checking out values but when I’m doing the final illustrations, I use the watercolors. I also use my sketch book as a tool where I can record ideas with words and sketches.
I start adding darker watercolors adding depth to the character
3. Why do I write what I do?
The ideas for picture books seem to come flying out of the atmosphere and I catch them with a great deal of excitement and quickly get them down on paper. That is the initial idea. Then the work comes. I capture that excitement and put it down on paper. Sometimes the words come first. Sometimes the pictures. I work on what current idea has come flying at me. There are a ton of ideas out there.
Adding a bit of background color.
4. How does my writing (illustrating) process work?
When the mornings go the way I want them to, they start with some contemplation, some physical activity of some sort to keep my heart beating and then a walk up the six stairs to the studio. When I’m working on an illustration project with a deadline, I schedule out how much I will do in a day so the finished illustrations will arrive on time. When I’m working on my own projects, I work on a story board and move to the book dummy. I usually have several book dummies by the time I arrive at the final one. While I am working on projects I’m also collecting sketches and ideas to use on future picture books and paintings.
Finished Character study.
Well, there is my process and here is my finished character study. Now let me introduce you to my friend Susan Detwiler. She is the SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator for MD/DE/WV and a great illustrator. Her new book is coming out in September.
Susan grew up in Maryland and was educated at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where she and her husband and two sons now live. Besides books for children, her illustrations have been used for advertising, merchandise, and greeting cards.