Saturday, November 7, 2009


This week I innocently exclaimed, "I'm almost done!" The reply was, "Come on, we're never really done, are we?" I know it was a tongue in cheek remark, but I thought about it. Each illustration has a problem to solve with a myriad of solutions. Along the way smaller problems are conquered and many lessons learned. With each lesson, a new perspective is gained. If I took every new perspective and started over using the new found knowledge, I would never finish anything. In the end and the beginning and every step of the way, it's all about choices and decisions. So, I have decided that I'm done...for now...with this illustration. I'll be moving on to the rest of the book to further revise my sketches. Here's a recap of the work I created in the Mentor Program over the last 6 months. I've come a long way on my journey, but I'm not done yet...

All of September I revised my thumbnail sketches hoping to get to illustration stage before the end of the program. On September 21, I got the go ahead to refine my sketches to the final size. Finally, after some revisions, I started my first picture book illustration on October 4th:

"Two Page Picture Book Spread"
I know. You might think it's a bit ominous, but I learned that even picture books need suspense and obstacles for the characters to overcome if they are going to be good stories. (You will be happy to know that the girl is not eaten. Were you judging the poor water serpent?) My first drafts had this really strong young female character who was good at everything and saved her village. The end. She was like a super hero, but even super heroes have obstacles to overcome. Important concepts sometimes take a while to sink in. Yuyi was very patient. This illustration is hot off the drawing table. I'm resisting the urge to go back in and continue working...

"Yen and the Sea Turtle"
Sometimes an illustration is done and then it isn't. I ended up having to go back into this portion of the illustration after I scanned it. When posted in smaller sizes, Yen's nose was much lighter than the rest of her face.

"Water Serpent"
Please get to know the Great Serpent before you decide you don't want to hang out with him. If you were far away from home he wouldn't leave you stranded.

It is interesting to look back at these illustrations, including the most recent. I am tempted to start each one over to improve it with what I have learned, but the decision has been made. This leg of the journey is done. There is much more to do. Onward...

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  1. It must feel great to have reached this milestone. Congratulations on achieving the goal! Your illustrations look fantastic - I'm looking forward to seeing the book some day.

    "If I took every new perspective and started over using the new found knowledge, I would never finish anything."

    This struck a chord with me. In the programming world it's known as Yak Shaving and I struggle with it every day.


  2. Thanks Eric! It does feel great. Thank you also for the new term. At least now, when I'm Yak Shaving, I can laugh at the image...

  3. Man, Kristen, you are really good. I am very impressed with your illustrations. I know writing is the same way, you could revise forever, but then you'd never move forward (and no one would see the darn thing). It's hard though judging once you've revised enough and it's time to let your baby fly off on it's own.

  4. Thanks, Angelia. Revising is so tricky. I always do my best, while striving to become better, but if I stare at something too long, I lose my ability to "see" it.

  5. Oh my goodness... these are so rich and dream-like. I can't take my eyes off of Yen and the Sea Turtle... just hypnotizing. Really nice work!

  6. Thank you, Sarah! I have such great memories of creating that illustration. I'm so glad you like it. :)