Sunday, October 26, 2014

Follow the Waffles

I drew these tiny, semi-faceless critters on scratchboard, while experimenting for The Twistrose Key.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Elixirium

Why, it’s The Apothecary by Maile Meloy - now published in German by Coppenrath and given the perhaps more intriguing title Elixirium. Viel Spaß beim Lesen! (or something like that)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Blog Frogs, Now in Living Color

Everything old is new again, including these frogs, some of whom have shown up on these pages before. But now they’ve been burnished a bit and tinted green.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tudor Tuxedo and Tabby Cats

Here are my two cats, Buzz (the tuxedo) and Pistachio (the tabby), eschewing their usual nakedness for Tudoresque garb. I painted them this winter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Twistrose Key’s Winter Jacket

Looking through an old notebook, I see that I made my first sketches for the jacket of Tone Almhjell’s The Twistrose Key on February 4, 2012 - a good 20 months before the novel was published. At first, the jacket was to be winter-themed, with a snowy landscape surrounded by a border printed in blue, silver, and black, and evocative of late 19th Century publishers’ bindings.

Part of what excited me about the blue and silver border was that it harkened back to the packaging of a childhood favorite: Drake’s Yodels, which used to come individually - and magically - wrapped in blue and silver foil. (Years and years ago I dug this wrapper fragment out from under the backseat of my parents’ 1965 Dodge Dart and I’ve saved it as a precious relic ever since.)

Anyway, I started sketching, incorporating as many chilly elements as possible, and playing around with hand-lettered type.

Eventually, I introduced a “key” motif into my sketches - but either I’d misread the manuscript or didn’t yet have an accurate description of the twistrose key itself. According to the text:
It was large, as large as the length of [Lin’s] hand, and blackened, as if someone had tried to burn it. Its head was fashioned as a petal, and the stem was that of a rose, with three tiny, but sharp thorns. Across the petal, there was a name engraved: “Twistrose”.

Next, I placed snowflakes within the (erroneous) bows of the keys - and animals (a fox, a vole, an owl, and a wolf) began to emerge in the four corners.

After filling up many scribbly pages with blue and black ballpoint pen, I did a tighter pencil rendition of the jacket. As you can see, I abandoned the key motif entirely - and went with a lock motif instead (but that didn’t last very long, either).

A variant color version followed - now with display type provided by designer Kristin Smith at Puffin, who spearheaded the project. I think, too, I had more descriptions from the manuscript to guide me by then.

Not long after all this, however, the snow-laden plan melted away to something more silhouetted and starry and less “season specific.”

Later still, the silver foil was replaced with gold, the mountains grew back, “The Wanderer” (the Northern-lights-looking smudge in the sky) went away, and so on. But maybe I can recycle my wintry ideas and pay homage to Yodels on the cover of some future book.

Lost Jackets: The Peculiar

The jacket shown here was, in essence, an “audition” for Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar (Greenwillow Books, 2012). The publishers weren’t sure what approach would best suit the debut novel, so they asked a few illustrators to execute a bunch of different ideas.

If I remember rightly, for one of my three sketches I was asked to go in a deliberately Apothecary-like direction, i.e. moody, atmospheric, and featuring a bird (in this case a mechanical brass sparrow, instead of an American Robin) and the London skyline (Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, not the Tower of London and Tower Bridge).

I always liked the result, but it may have been too dark for their purposes, and ultimately they went with something more lighthearted.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Revisiting Illustrations

I used to think that it was a sin to rework an illustration after it had been published. But there’s plenty of historical precedence for post-publication alterations: Howard Pyle, for example, did a lot of picture-tweaking for a variety of reasons (some of which I discussed here and here).

Then again, Pyle - and plenty of other authors, too - sometimes made major revisions to his stories in between serial and book publication - changing plot lines, cutting characters and scenes, etc. - and didn’t, to my knowledge, catch any flak for his actions.

So, I wondered, if a book is out of print with no real chance of being revived, why not revisit its illustrations in hopes of breathing new life into them? I decided to do a little experiment...

The picture shown here started out as my illustration for the now long-gone Jonkonnu by Amy Littlesugar, which deals with an incident in the life of Winslow Homer - and for which I tried to emulate Homer’s style as best I could with limited skills. I didn’t rework the picture with real ink and paint, however: I just digitally altered a low-resolution scan of a proof (hence the not-great quality).

I’m still not brave or foolhardy enough to start messing with my original drawings and paintings, but it could be only a matter of time.

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK

I painted this full-length, yet only six-inch-high portrait of President Kennedy for Jean Karl’s America Alive. (Pardon the coffee stains and general grubbiness.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lost Jackets: Wonder Light


Sometimes I can’t say goodbye to sketches that get superseded by other ideas. Here’s such an example, made for the jacket of Wonder Light by R. R. Russell. The final, published jacket looks nothing like this early composition, but I'm still fond of it, even though it doesn’t really capture the mood - and mist - of the novel. It looks more like a cover for “Wild West”-themed sheet music or “Leathercraft for Kids” from the 1950s. Maybe one day I can find a more appropriate home for this kind of approach.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Twistrose Key is out today!



The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell - which features a few dozen illustrations by me - is in stores today. Pick up a copy from...

IndieBound
Barnes and Noble
Amazon

Sunday, August 18, 2013

NYC for NYU


I did this booklet cover for New York University a while back. It’s, as usual, in ink and acrylic on paper and I was deliberately trying to mimic a pictorial style that I recalled from childhood: maybe the artwork on boxes for German-made tin toys...? Something like that.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Characters from a Lost Novel

I confess: the “lost novel” was never lost at all because it was never there in the first place. This page of character studies was more or less a doodle: just me trying out a combination of ink and acrylic paint on a piece of bristol board with no real plan in mind.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Apprentices Make(s) the Cover

The Apprentices was recently featured on the cover of Ingram Children’s Advance which was sent out to booksellers all over the country. Nice!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fishing Pig (after George Caleb Bingham)

I love pigs and I love George Caleb Bingham, so I combined the two in this painting - which is still in-progress, though I confess I haven't touched it in a while. It's acrylic and ink on Strathmore Aquarius II paper (when it was still good, fine-grained, non-buckling paper - not the rougher, thinner, wrinklier paper it became, alas).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Forefathers For Father's Day


Here are all my photographed forefathers - interesting facial hair, hairdos, and all - ganged up. They are: 

Two of my eight great-great-grandfathers:
Carl Gottlieb SCHÖNHERR
born: 1834 Börtewitz / Kleinpelsen, Sachsen (now Germany)
died: 1909 Carterville, Missouri
occupation: blacksmith; coal trimmer; stoker; saloon keeper  
George LAMB
born: c1838-40 Hunslet or Leeds, Yorkshire, England
died: 1914 Bradford, Manchester, Lancashire, England
occupation: striker, boiler maker, holder up 
My four great-grandfathers:
Carl Heinrich Thomas SCHÖNHERR
born: 1859 Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark (now Germany)
died: 1938 Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
occupation: ships carpenter 
Nikolaus BRAUN
born: 1860 Stefansfeld, Banat, Austria-Hungary (now Serbia)
died: 1941 Tschakowa, Rumania
occupation: farmer 
Peter Rayfield GRAY
born: 1866-68 New York, New York
died: 1940 New York, New York
occupation: prizefighter; butcher; watchman 
Robert ENDSOR
born: 1877 Ancoats, Manchester, Lancashire, England
died: 1948 New York, New York
occupation: cork maker; greengrocer; machine driller; milkman; inspector, foreman, and night superintendent at Sheffield Farms
My two grandfathers: 
Johannes Ferdinand SCHÖNHERR
born: 1900 Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
died: 1982 Volusia County, Florida
occupation: oiler; machinist; deck engineer on oil tanker; tool-and-die maker
Raymond Thomas GRAY
born: 1911 Woodside, Queens, New York
died: 1966 New York, New York
occupation: shoe-last maker
My one and only father: 
John Carl SCHOENHERR
born: 1935 New York, New York
died: 2010 Easton, Pennsylvania
occupation: illustrator; author; artist

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tips for Aspiring Authors from Maile Meloy

An informative and helpful interview with Maile Meloy about The Apprentices. Skipping to the good part:
The illustrations by Ian Schoenherr are amazing. How did you find him and how did he capture the plot so perfectly? 
When we first began, the wonderful art director Cecilia Yung asked me what kind of illustrations I wanted. Janie tells the story as something that really happened to her when she was 14, so I wanted the illustrations to be realistic, not stylized or cartoon-like. But I also wanted them to be atmospheric and to work with the magical elements of the book. Cecilia suggested Ian Schoenherr. As soon as I saw an illustration he did based on a 19th-century family photograph, in which he made everyone into pigs, I knew he was the one. And he’s done such an amazing job with the books. He’s always very careful about detail and writes to me asking, “Is it this kind of boat? Is it this kind of RAF knife?” In The Apothecary, I had a character with a wooden peg leg, but Ian painted a perfect, historically accurate, articulated artificial leg, with nails holding up the socks, so I went back and changed the book. His leg was better than mine.

Here Come(s) THE APPRENTICES!




The Apprentices, Maile Meloy’s sequel to The Apothecary is now available!

In addition to the full-color jacket, I made about 38 black and white illustrations for the inside - only eight of which were printed in the ARCs, by the way, because I was still working on them through the end of January! So to see them all you’ll have to grab the handsome, hefty hardcover edition from...
IndieBound
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
And Books of Wonder - the frabjous children’s bookshop in New York City - has stacks and stacks of copies of both The Apprentices and The Apothecary SIGNED by Maile and me. (In fact, those copies were the first I ever laid eyes and hands on this past Friday.)

And Penguin just issued this....
MEDIA ALERT 
The Apprentices by Maile Meloy was included in the Los Angeles Times Summer Reading preview issue on June 2nd!
Bookpage featured an interview with Maile in their June issue! 
Amazon selected The Apprentices as a June Book of the Month! 
Maile’s two-week national tour for The Apprentices (to take place in early October) will be announced shortly. 
Praise for The Apprentices
“…readers will be glad to reconnect with these well-drawn characters and be grateful that Meloy leaves room for a third installment.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review 
“This sober and well-constructed adventure accurately conveys the geopolitical instability of the era and is leavened with just enough magic, chaste romance and humor to appeal to middle-grade readers through teens.” –Kirkus Reviews

Sunday, April 28, 2013

These Pigs Could Be Yours


It's time once again for the 19th Annual Children's Book Art Silent Auction. It'll be held Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 5.50-7.30pm during BookExpo America at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Above is this year's contribution: my reworked/revamped family portrait, which I featured here a while back...

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Apothecary is now in paperback


The Apothecary by Maile Meloy - with a whole bunch of my illustrations - is now out in paperback. It’s a pretty thing, I think, and it appeals to my magpie sensibilities.

Eagle-eyed readers (and even skylark-eyed, robin-eyed, and swallow-eyed ones) will notice that I tweaked the original jacket painting. Actually, it was more of a small-scale demolition job wherein I tore down the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, erected a new stretch of old-fashioned buildings and sprinkled some children on top of them. On second thought: maybe I just turned the bottle a bit so as to get a fresh vista, taking care not to jostle the bird in the process. At any rate, I like this version better.

And it’s nice to share some pictorial real estate with Garth Williams, whose drawing was adapted for that shiny sticker in the corner. Did I mention the book won (well, tied in the middle reader category) The E. B. White Read-Aloud Award from the American Booksellers Association?

So by all means go get a copy at...
Indiebound
Books-A-Million
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

GOODNIGHT MOON Rearranged

Today is the 60th anniversary of the untimely death of Margaret Wise Brown. For want something better to do to commemorate this, I’ve taken all the words from GOODNIGHT MOON and rearranged them...

GO, NOTHING MOOD 
The moon was over
a toy-house there,
and quiet little noises
were everywhere. 
A room full of chairs
and nobody was sitting
and two old bears
and three little kittens
and a lady cow whispering,
Goodnight, goodnight,
on a green telephone.  
Hush-mush...
Hush-mush... 
Brush the old bears
and comb the young kittens,
and brush and comb
and pair red mittens. 
And there,
in a great balloon,
a little mouse, who,
jumping and jumping,
socks the stars
and clocks the moon. 
A balloon to the moon,
little mouse,
over chairs and room
and red mittens and house. 
A picture of air
and a bowl of light
and a lady cow whispering,
Goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
goodnight
...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New, Old Pig on the Block


Going to the ABFFE’s (Mostly) Silent Children’s Art Auction and Reception to Support Free Speech for Young People at BEA tonight? If so, you can bid on - and maybe even bring home with you - this little piggy.

He looks sort of familiar, eh? That’s because I took a color xerox of a painting I did a dozen years ago, mounted it on illustration board, then started to retouch and, I hope, improve on my earlier work. I had based the original on a photograph of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, but thought the proportions needed adjusting to make him less human and more pig-like. I also fleshed out his surroundings, gave it all a warmer tone, and pretty much repainted the whole thing.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bitterblue is here!



Bitterblue is here! Actually, it’s been here since May 1, but I’ve been too busy to herald its arrival. Last fall and winter I made about 16 illustrations for the book - and I’ll show how some of them came about in subsequent posts. Although they have a “woodcut” feel, all of them are ink on scratchboard. Pick up a copy from...

Monday, April 23, 2012

“It no have pictures in it.”

From Kristin Cashore’s blog:
The response of my two-year-old niece, codename: Isis, when she saw the ARC of Bitterblue: "It no have pictures in it."

Well, guess what, Isis? You're going to like the final version of the book better, because it does have pictures in it. The lovely Ian Schoenherr, who most recently did the art for The Apothecary, has created maps, castle diagrams, various Appendix illustrations, endpapers, the cover page, ornamental chapter openers, and, probably my favorite illustrations of all, double-spread part openers (the book is in five parts) for Bitterblue, and the final result makes me SO HAPPY.

If you "like" the Graceling Realm page on Facebook, you'll have access to some of the art, which is slowly being revealed there.

The process of working with my publisher and Ian on the art was fascinating. It was surprising -- and delightful -- to realize how involved I needed to be, and lots of fun, too -- I enjoyed every minute of it. Often, it wasn't until I saw a sketch that I realized there was some physical aspect of a space I hadn't bothered to explain to Ian, because I'd internalized it so much that I'd forgotten that other people wouldn't necessarily be imagining it the way I did. I had to re-learn that we all see different things when we read words. And it's really helpful to have a visual artist picking your book apart and trying to interpret it. Ian found some inconsistencies no one else had caught -- like a clock tower I'd slapped onto the wrong bridge -- just in time for me to change them in the text. And every time one of his sketches came in, I sat there speechless, overwhelmed by how lucky I was to have an artist who was making my world so beautiful. Feeling, deeply, that Ian was making my world more beautiful than I had ever managed to make it.

Thank you, thank you, Ian, for what you've done for Bitterblue. I'm certain Bitterblue herself would love the art too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Apothecary on The Martha Stewart Show

The Apothecary was just featured on The Martha Stewart Show!

The Tennessean’s Celebrity Column tells all about it:
Nashville local and New York Times best-selling author Ann Patchett dropped by The Martha Stewart Show to promote her new local bookstore, Parnassus Books, and share her top 5 picks for books this holiday season.

“The best thing about owning a bookstore is recommending books,” Patchett told Stewart in the episode, which airs at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. today and again at noon Monday on the Hallmark Channel. “I’ve been forcing books on people my whole life, and now I can do it professionally.”

As for the books she thinks people should read this time of year, Patchett suggests The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson, Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman, The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, One Writer’s Garden by Susan Haltom and Jane Roy Brown, and The Apothecary by Maile Meloy.

Audience members walked away with all five books, as well as Patchett’s latest book, State of Wonder.

Parnassus Books is at 3900 Hillsboro Pike in Nashville.