Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind

Written by Gary Ross • Candlewick Press, 2012.

A boy sails away on a bed sheet and returns as a young man.


Making a boy real

My usual art style didn't seem right for what felt like a classic adventure tale, so I hit the easel to adapt my oil painting technique. What you see is my attempt at a stylized realism inspired by the great American illustrators of the early twentieth century.

Scroll down to see sketches and reference photos.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

Detail from Bartholomew's Window.

Densy and Bart • Oil on illustration board

Sunset • Oil on illustration board

Leap of Faith • Oil on illustration board

The Cliff Face • Oil on illustration board. Each chapter begins with a number that illustrates something from a pivotal scene. I also incorporated the bed sheet that Bartholomew use to fly away; throughout the book the sheet becomes tattered and adorned with souvenirs from his adventure.

Flying! • Oil on illustration board

The Canyon • Oil on illustration board

The Aviator's Camp • Oil on illustration board. This illustration was a real blast. I got to fill the camp with the tattered remains of every conceivable object that could fly or be swept away by a great wind.

Amelia Earhart • Oil on illustration board

We Made it! • Oil on illustration board

Home Again • Oil on illustration board

Detail from Get Him! • Oil on illustration board

Extreme detail from The Aviator's Camp • Oil on illustration board


My first sketch for Leap of Faith.

Reference photos for Leap of Faith. I normally don't need to take reference photos, since my usual style is not at all realistic.

Reference photo compilation for Flying! I photographed the kids as they lay on their stomachs, on a table.

Early sketch for The Aviator's Camp.

Working on The Aviator's Camp. One easel held the painting (here shown only sketched onto the illustration board) and one easel to hold all my reference photos.

Sketch for the butler in Amelia Earhart. It's flying squirrel, of course, since the canyon was filled with lost aviators.

Sketch for Home Again. Rather than have the boy return to his home via the front door, I put him in the backyard, behind a fence, to illustrate the distance his adventure/growth has put between himself and the boy he was.

Sketch for Densy and Bart.

Sketch for the chapter 3 title page.

Character studies for pirates.

I posed friends as pirates. Compare the guy with the flag to the image from Get Him!, above.