Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Research Phase...

I'm working on a couple of new books. If The Mummy Could Talk... by Rhonda L. Donald is scheduled to be released Spring 2018. It sounds like a long time in the future, but there's a lot of work to be done between now and then. I've been doing research and have turned in interior roughs. Now I'm waiting to hear back from the publisher for more revisions and/or to go on to final artwork.

Have I mentioned that research is my favorite part of illustrating creative nonfiction books? I learn something new every day and hopefully it'll enrich the final illustrations.
Montage from research at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's Egyptian Mummies exhibit
The docent in the lower left gave a great explanation of the elaborate process of mummification. The body's organs, including the brain which they didn't think was important are removed using a hook through the nose. The organs are preserved in canopic jars. Egyptians believed the gods would weigh the subject's heart to decide whether they deserved eternal life or not. Fascinating stuff!

Below are a couple of very rough interior spreads that my editor, art director and the author are going over now. They are super rough, but since we've all worked together before they understand that the final artwork will look better. The artwork might look similar to this or go in a totally different direction. I like the collaboration because it all works to make the book that much better.

Young King Tut had an awesome tomb but not the healthiest life.
Cats ruled dogs drooled in ancient Egypt

I find the most interesting mummies are the animals and we have several in this book. 

Even today we find ways to honor our favorite pets who have passed on to the afterlife. Here's a photo from a book shelf in my studio. On the left is a photo of my daughter with our first dog, Mohawk, an energetic Irish Setter. Next to the photo is an urn with ashes from our second dog, Tarzana, a good hearted yellow lab who liked to lay on my feet while I worked. Normally I wouldn't show my immortalized pets on my blog. However, after all the research for these mummified pets it doesn't seem so strange. How do you remember your favorite pets?
Our dearly departed pets, Mohawk next to ashes of Tarzana on my studio shelf

My second project is for Patria Press. This is a historical fiction chapter book series I worked on ten years ago with Florrie Kichler. As a kid, Florrie loved a book series called Childhood of Famous Americans (and so did I!). To make a long story short, Florrie bought the rights to many of the titles in the series, had it re-edited, re-designed along with new illustrations and has introduced it to a new generation of kids today.  Now it's The Young Patriot Series.

It was recently bought out by Carol Tully of TEI LandmarkAudio and I'm so excited to be illustrating the fifteenth book in the series, Dan Beard, Boy Scout by Miriam E. Mason. It's in the beginning stages. Even though I don't have roughs to show just yet I've included a photo of 90 year old Dan celebrating his birthday in New York along with a cover from the original series. I like Dan; he was from a family of artists, sketched nature, met Abe Lincoln as a boy and later knew Mark Twain. 
90 year old Dan Carter Beard, at his birthday celebration in New York.
Dan Beard, Boy Scout by Miriam E. Mason from the Childhood of Famous American Series
So I'm in the beginning stages, my favorite research phase and will have more to share shortly. It's scheduled to be published next year, 2017. 
Thanks for taking a look!

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