Friday, November 27, 2015

Art Appreciation

King Parrot
Acrylic on canvas by Elle Carter Neal
Click to enlarge
I enjoy drawing and painting as a hobby – which means I don’t take it seriously, I don’t bother with practicing to improve my skills, I don’t find time for it when I’m just too busy (like the past six years!). Making pictures is a nice way to relax after a long day dealing with words.

Artworks by Elle Carter Neal
(including Pelican incomplete since 2009)
Click to enlarge
I know enough about art to know that I’m not good enough at it to illustrate my own covers. So, I’ve now set out twice to commission artwork from professional artists. The first was very easy to find. Sandra Salsbury illustrated What Does It Mean to be Safe by Rana DiOrio and I followed the blog book tour via Dani’s involvement in Little Pickle Press. I fell in love with the artwork on Sandra’s website, and knew she would be my first enquiry when I was ready to design the cover for my first book, Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. Sandra was available, and an absolute delight to work with from the very first thumbnail sketch she sent through to the lightning fast turn-around of the finished cover.

 

This year I was ready to publish my first picture book, I Own All the Blue. I was after a very particular style for this book and I searched through hundreds of portfolios and websites before I found Bess Harding on Pinterest. Bess was also lovely to work with, and translated my text and illustration notes into darling images that bring the story to life.




I love being able to give work to talented artists. And I really appreciate what I get for my investment.

Elsa Neal
Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at ElleCarterNeal.com or HearWriteNow.com

12 comments :

  1. I love your King Parrot, Elle. I play with pencil, watercolor and acrylics for relaxation, but I don't turn out work even close to yours. Hiring a pro for cover art and illustrations makes good sense, but never give up your own artistic sideline. I know how well it works to settle the nerves and calm the soul.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. I'm very out of practice, but when I eventually have a bit more time I do intend to do some daily sketching to improve my skills. I would like to be able to do my own interior line drawings one day - it would save me a lot of money! :-)

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  2. Those drawings are perfect for the book genre. Good for you to employ artists to do them.

    I was a professional illustrator for 25 years, but I never thought of illustrating my own covers. I do them, but I use others' photos. I enjoy creating the type and the design, but doing the art? I don't think I'd be happy with me. Years ago, I did a bunch of intricate pen and ink drawings for a children's book. I have no idea where they are.

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    1. I didn't realise you had illustrated professionally, Polly. You are very talented. I do think you're right to use photos for your covers, as illustrations for thrillers would feel very out of place, no matter how good the artwork may be.

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  3. Great cover art is worth its weight in gold. But me thinks you discount your own "amateur" skills. Your work is beautiful. I love to dabble in art and crafts. I think it helps "cross-train" your brain.

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    1. Thank you, Diana. I enjoy my own art - both creating it and looking at it - but I do see all the flaws ;-)

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  4. Lovely drawings, Elle. I admire people who can do such quality artwork.

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  5. I so wish I were a better artist. I enjoy it, but devoted ny time to music and writing. No regrets, but I still wish I had spent a little more time on it. Great looking work!

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    1. Thank you, Jason. Music practice can take up a lot of time, too. It has been my intention for a while now that when I turn 40 I will begin learning to play the piano. (Though I might have to start with a keyboard if I can't score a cheap-ish secondhand piano on eBay!)

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  6. I've made a living as a professional artist, but would not illustrate my own children's book. Maybe a cover, but not interior shots - trying to depict the same character in different poses and settings take real skill. I admire artists who have developed that ability. I"m not one of them though. You know what, Elle, I didn't connect the artist's name to LPP. Are you tagging her when you share on social media?

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    1. I know what you mean about the same character in different poses - if I ever do my own interiors it will probably be different characters each time. I'm thinking along the lines of the Enid Blyton books for young-Middle-Grade readers - some of them only have one or two illustrations per chapter (and my kids seem perfectly happy with that ;-) )

      Yes, I follow Sandra (and Bess) on Twitter, in particular, and have @mentioned them there.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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