Hum and Swish

Neal Porter Books, Holiday House • Summer 2019.

Jamie loves the beach. She loves making things. If only people would quit bugging her! In the end, though, she shares the beach with someone a lot like her.

 

All Me

After illustrating over twenty books for other authors, Hum and Swish was the first time I flew solo. I didn’t sweat the writing, but when it came to the art, I choked. That was totally unexpected. The sketches were all approved, and all I needed to do was make the art.

I started with watercolor, creating several illustrations before realizing I was not getting the depth I wanted out of the medium. I switched to oil, but was running out of time. I had a couple finished illustrations I liked, but others were just not coming together. I was overworking the art, and myself. I found myself seriously wishing I could give the book to another illustrator. I tore up one illustration. Repainted another five times. I needed a break. From myself.

After a couple weeks, I came back with a new attitude, or rather the attitude I usually have when illustrating—gratitude. I’m grateful that picture books even exist. And I get to make them just about every day.

Scroll down for early sketches from the book. Click on any image to enlarge it. 

Jamie Hums • Oil on illustration board

The Sea Tells Stories • Oil on illustration board

In the Zone • Oil on illustration board

Cover art • Oil on illustration board

Looking for shells • Oil on illustration board

Kindred Spirit • Oil on illustration board

Aren’t You Clever? • Oil on illustration board

  What’s That Supposed to Be?  • Oil on illustration board

What’s That Supposed to Be? • Oil on illustration board

Trying to Work • Oil on illustration board

   Collecting   • Oil on illustration board

Collecting • Oil on illustration board

 

Character study of Jamie.

 Character study. Here Jamie is more cartoony, with a large head.

Character study. Here Jamie is more cartoony, with a large head.

Another study, same approach. She was feeling too exaggerated, which wasn’t fitting my simple story.

 A watercolor sketch, still in the unrealistic world. Fun, but not the girl in the story.

A watercolor sketch, still in the unrealistic world. Fun, but not the girl in the story.

 A somewhat less whimsical approach, but still not the right girl.

A somewhat less whimsical approach, but still not the right girl.

 Again, Jamie is not yet a real girl. Note the exaggerated leg, straight out in front of her.

Again, Jamie is not yet a real girl. Note the exaggerated leg, straight out in front of her.

 This is closer to reality, or at least closer to a realistic pose.  Authentic  might be a better word than real, since my goal is never photographic realism.

This is closer to reality, or at least closer to a realistic pose. Authentic might be a better word than real, since my goal is never photographic realism.

 Watercolor study for  Looking for Shells.

Watercolor study for Looking for Shells.

 Watercolor study.

Watercolor study.

 Watercolor study for  What’s That Supposed to Be?

Watercolor study for What’s That Supposed to Be?

 Sketch for  Jamie Hums . This was one of the first sketches I made for  Hum and Swish , which is actually closer to the feeling of the final art than many of the intermediate studies.

Sketch for Jamie Hums. This was one of the first sketches I made for Hum and Swish, which is actually closer to the feeling of the final art than many of the intermediate studies.

 Sketch for  Trying to Work.

Sketch for Trying to Work.

 Sketch for  Aren’t You Clever?

Sketch for Aren’t You Clever?