Designing the doorway to adventure

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Anyone who follows my blog or any of my other social media sites knows I have an obsession with doors. I collect them, I draw them, I write books about them.

This year I also fine-tuned a workshop about them that helps set up students to write a story about a character who discovers a doorway that leads to an adventure. This is a bit different from the workshop that I have in which students actually construct wooden models of doors. That workshop is labor intensive and can only be delivered to small groups.

This new workshop allows me to work with large groups of up to 60. Here’s some photos of the kids’ work on their brainstorming sheet that they worked on yesterday after viewing my door collection. Many fantastic ideas!

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Head’s up: modeling characters 3D style

Officially, my time has come to an end as the artist-in-residence at a local specialized learning center for teens. I’ve been asked to see if I can come back in for a few more sessions and I would love to, since I’ve enjoyed working with this group of students so much. It’s just a matter of fitting the days in amidst my writing and touring schedule this hectic spring.

But who wouldn’t want to go back? We’ve had so much fun designing and building characters through costumes and props. We’ve been drilling, sanding, carving, gluing, hair-cutting . . . you name it!

Here’s some of the most recent photos of the students’ creations . . .

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Proof perfect: the material for the summer reading club

I got a glimpse at the proofs for all the marketing material for the BC summer reading club today. I was grateful (read: relieved) that everything looked so good. Since I digitally painted all of the artwork, this was actually my first time to see the colour artwork on good old-fashioned paper.

All the material turned out really well. The colors are popping on the poster and I really love how the reading record turned out. It has all these little “icons” on it and I was concerned that they might lose all their detail when shrunk down . . . but they turned out as well.

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There’s even a fun postcard activity in which the kids draw a vehicle around the critters and then, on the other side, can write a message. The postcard is designed to Canada Post specs, so kids will actually be able to send it.

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There is still a T-shirt and medallion to come! I can’t wait to see them.

Building a dragon egg

I’ve had a bit of time over the past couple of weeks so I’ve taken full advantage of it by, first, having some R&R, second, doing a lot of writing, and, third, by building a dragon egg.

This egg will become a part of the museum of magical artifacts, which I often take on author visits to schools and libraries to help spark the kids’ imaginations. Many of the artifacts are from my Kendra Kandlestar series, or from other books I have in development.

I started with a simple paper cache egg, which gave a base coat of metallic green paint (by the end of this process, I realized that undercoating of paint was completely unnecessary).  I then bejeweled slowly and carefully. Thankfully, I found these strips of jewels, which made this task a little less onerous. I then filled in the gaps with individual jewels.

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The jewels weren’t that sticky, so I added coats of modge-podge along the way to keep everyone sticking. A lot of patience was required between drying times.

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Modge-podge dries clear, so this is what the egg looked like at the end of the bejeweling process. To be honest, I didn’t really have a set plan for this project, and part of me thought I could have just considered the egg completed at this stage . . . it does look rather pretty. dragonegg04-bejewelled

However, it also looks very “made”, so I kept on going, groping on metallic green paint.

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By this stage, I had a very cool looking egg, with what looks like more organic bumps.

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Then came the most challenging part of the process, which was trying to get the final paint job just right. I wanted to achieve an overall cohesive tone, while at the same time adding some texture and nuanced color depth. I also wanted the egg to have a graduation of color, going from dark at the bottom to light at the top.

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I mostly accomplished this with some splattering and then a whole lot of dry brushing of other colors, including black, bronze, gold, and emerald green. I’m not sure how much those color subtleties show up in the photos, but they are there when you behold the egg in real life.

Final stage was to spray the whole thing with fixatif at the end. Here some photos of the final . . .

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Whew! This was actually my practice run . . . I’ve got a much bigger egg I want to build once I get the next break in my schedule. That one will be a little more “deluxe” . . .

Book a trip! All the material is ready for the summer reading club!

I spent the fall working on all the illustrations for the BC Library’s 2016 Summer Reading Club and now I’m thrilled to see that  designer Roger Handling has finished all his work. He took all the artwork I produced, many of it just bits and pieces, and has assembled an array of amazing material.

You can check out the official website here and peruse all the fantastic material, but I thought I would post some of the final designs here.

Logo:

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Poster:

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Stickers:

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Reading Record:
(The printed version is huge—30 inches long, and accordion folded.
This is what the kids use to record their reading throughout the summer.)

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Bookmarks:

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Costuming characters ~ 3D style

In past workshops, I’ve done plenty of projects where kids design, sketch, and imagine the costumes the characters in their stories might wear. In some cases, I’ve even brought in fabric swatches for them to help imagine the process.

For the artist-in-residence/art therapy program  I’m doing for at a local centre for teens, I decided to take it up a notch. So we’ve spent our time building character survival kits, but most of the students have finished them and are now working on a new project: to costume a character using a mannequin head.

This is my first time trying out this project (as was the case with the character kids), and I can’t even begin to express how much the students love it. They seem very invested in these characters and I am really enjoying helping them whittle, drill, paint, and sculpt their way through this project.

First, here are two of the recently completed character kits:

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Next are the mannequin heads. Many of these are in progress. Don’t blame me for how terrifying some of them are . . . these kids seem to all love The Walking Dead and everything zombie. Though, at the same time, they have spent their hours with me arguing over which is the best Disney movie. (Apparently, Atlantis is highly under rated and should be given a higher place in the echelon of animated films. Or, so they tell me.)

In any case, here are some of the character heads . . .

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