Sunday, August 20, 2017

Balloon Lift Off 4: The Lighthouse

I usually post my paint play inspired by Colour Collective earlier, but I'm a bit late this week since I have a tight deadline with sketches to finish for a book for Pelican Publishing (more on that later).

I stole a few minutes (okay, more than just a few) from my sketching time to paint another adventure with the the red balloons using Cordovan as the color inspiration to post to #colour_collective on twitter. I'm trying to keep a logical storytelling sequence to this series, so I also used the teal ocean color from last week and have the girl being swept in from the ocean this time.

Did she travel across the entire sea? I shrug. Perhaps. I was going to paint her in the middle of the ocean with the dog on a boat (which you can see a peek at the dog in a boat possibility with the time-lapse video on instagram), or passing a Cordovan colored pirate ship, but this is what came out when I put finger to iPad with Procreate. I go where the wind takes me, so to speak.

The first image is what I posted for #colour_collective, and the second one is because I felt I needed to push the lighting a bit more, so I spent a bit more time with it. Which one do you like better?

children's illustration feature the fourth of a red ballon advetnrue by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved
Children's adventure series told by illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Balloon Lift Off 3: Swept Away

The red balloons are still flying.

This week I was inspired to continue with my Balloon Lift Off series with Swept Away inspired by #colour_collective weekly color Vert Réséda as the background color, which screamed ocean to me. Once again, the color inspired the art and the balloons won't let me go, so this is what happened:

a red balloon adventure in pictures by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

Will she ever land? What will she see in her travels? How will her dog keep up if she is swept out to sea? Stay tuned, I'm sure there will be more of their story unfolding here. Have an adventurous weekend everybody!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Don’t Fret, Fred, Your Day Will Come (hopefully sooner, since it’s already later)

spot illustration from Don't Fret, Fred by Traci Van Wagoner
Fred from Don't Fret, Fred Version 1
I’m happy to say that Fred is finally ready (again) and has ventured out into the wide world all shiny and new.

I revised and polished the manuscript, sketched out the dummy and completed (or should I say, redid and reillustrated) three samples spreads and it is now out into the world for consideration by agents and editors. Whoopee! And to tickle your curiosity, it is being seriously considered somewhere. To be named later if it comes through.

Don’t Fret, Fred is a wild romp of a tale in which Fred discovers that exciting things can happen when you look up from your e-things and use your imagination.

 This story has pretty much always been about that. Even though the journey has meandered to and fro, the heart of the story, the bare bones of a bored kid, Gram knitting and telling a wild yarn which spins out of control and Fred having bring them home has remained the same. Gramps has always been like, here we go again. The happenings, the specific interactions has changed, but the core has remained the same.

This picture book has gone through three major revisions (not to mention the many, many edits, and fussing with words, paragraphs, spreads.) I sent out the manuscript alone many years ago. I got personal rejections with editors who liked the humor but felt there wasn't enough there to pass the last hurdle to acquire it. After a pile of rejections, I put it in a drawer where it sat with all those rejection letters for a looooooooooong time.

Until…

My nephew stirred interest again when he casually said one day, "don't fret, Fred." He remembered the fun repeating line from my book from when I read it to him years before. That gave me heart. I pulled it back out, reworked it with my husband and business partner and my wonderful crit buddies (where would I be without their invaluable input?), and I hammered away at it till I got something I was happy with again.

So, good to go, I created a dummy book and finished sample illustrations.


Don't Fret Fred, version 1, by Traci Van WagonerDon't Fret Fred Cover version 1, written and illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner

Don't Fret Fred, version 1, by Traci Van Wagoner

Don't Fret Fred, version 1, by Traci Van Wagoner



Fred had his debut showing at the SCBWI Winter Conference in NY, I also sent it out to to editors, agents, and hit the twitter pitch parties. I received some interest here and there, but I wasn't quite happy yet and neither was anyone who saw it. Something niggled at me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. In one of the twitter parties, I saw someone was interested in a book with yarn bombing and -- boom! -- the seed of an idea was planted. Then taking a walk in my neighborhood (on what we call the chicken walk) I came across this:

yarn bomboing on the chicken walk by Traci Van Wagoner
Yarn bomb on my dog walk

And the idea clicked. That’s what I needed! Gram is a yarn bomber. I went back to work.

Edit. Revise. Redraw. Sketch. Paint.
New Fred sketch by Traci Van Wagoner
New Fred sketch adding yarn bombing

A new manuscript, dummy book and sample illustrations were born now with a yarn bombing gram. You see her behind the scenes yarn bombing all the places they land, which in the end gives Fred an idea to help bring them home. I think this has tied it all together with humor, surprise, and a bucket load of imagination


Don't Fret Fred illustration by Traci Van WagonerDon't Fret, Fred version 2 by Traci Van Wagoner


Okay, I was done. Sent out some more and received a smattering of interest. Then I received a great comment on twitter from Guiseppe Castellano which basically said (I can’t find the actual comment), “fun, but strange there are purple outlines.”

This was something that had been niggling at me, but I’d ignored for many reasons. It was an illustration style I liked and had developed for various reasons which I won’t go into here. I came to a conclusion that I needed and should and wanted to redo the final illustrations yet again. I wanted to loosen up and have fun just painting and breaking free from a conception of what my style was or should be. So I did, and I had a ton of fun. And this is what happened.

Don't Fret Fred cover illustration. Written and Illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner

Children's book illustration by Traci Van Wagoner

Sketch for children's book written and illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner

illustration for Don't Fret, Fred by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

There you have it, the basic progression of this book. It's been a long road, and now I hope I'm at a point where others will enjoy it too and someone will be willing to take it on. One can hope.

And here's my query schpill:

Don't Fret, Fred written and illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner. Dummy book available upon request.

Don't Fret, Fred by Traci Van Wagoner

Cut off from the electronic world, Fred is worried a day with Gram and Gramps in the boonies will be boring. Boy, was he wrong. While balling Gram’s yarn (yawn!), he asks her for a story. Crazy and out-of-this-world things begin to happen, spinning them up into a wild yarn of an adventure bigger than all of them. Fred will have to use his rusty imagination to get them back home before they are lost in space.

Dummy book available upon request.



I would love to hear what you think of Fred and his yarn bombing Gram. And please feel free to share any pictures or stories you have of yarn bombing in your neighborhood.


If you'd like to see more of my illustration process, click here to see the making of The Mermaid's Gift by Claudia McAdam, published by Pelican Publishing.

Thanks ever so much for sharing in my journey.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Balloon Lift Off 2: Up, Up and Away

I had so much fun with the red balloon painting I did last week for #colour_collective and had a big positive response to it,  I decided to do another painting in continuation of the balloon lift off story.

Up, up and away she goes! Where she lands, nobody knows!

I shared an earlier (not quite done) version of this piece on twitter and instagram since I had other work to finish and wanted to get it up on time to share with the rest of the @colour_collective community. I've noticed that the art I create on the iPad is brighter than when I share it online. So I brightened it up and added a lighter sky and more highlights to this version. Color consistency in our digital world is tricky.

Stay tuned, I may just share more of this girl's (and her puppy's) journey. In fact, I'd love to hear your suggestions and thoughts on where she might land and what she sees along the way. Enjoy the balloon ride.

Red Balloon Lift Off a story in illustrations by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, Up, Up and Away



Friday, July 28, 2017

Balloon Lift Off

Happy Friday! Inspiration struck early this week for this week's colour_collective with the prompt color Portland Orange. Balloons! High in the sky with a kid holding on and being lifted into the blue.  This is about how it unfolded for me as I painted this in Procreate. I started with a dark blue background, then with a big, blocky brush I splotted on orange, red balloons in a new layer. Some green below, some lighter blue, a swath of sidewalk, a girl holding onto the balloons, then, of course 'cause there's always gotta be a dog, her pup standing beside her all concerned. Mostly I painted this with my finger, but the Apple Pencil came in handy with adding the final details, which is what was missing in my paint play before on the old iPad with no pencil.

I had a ton of fun painting this. I hope it brings you some joy viewing it. Have a great weekend filled with balloons and good times!
kidlitart by Traci Van Wagoner, children's illustrator
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer Nights and Ice Cream

I had a ton of fun this week painting this piece with inspiration from colour_collective, Pantone 292 C. For my b-day I got a new iPad (just in time too since my old iPad 2 went kaflooey), so this week my paint play has been more involved and I got a bit more detailed as I played with the Apple Pencil vs. finger painting. I still used my finger to paint a lot of this, but with the pencil I was able to get more detailed and target my brush strokes more accurately, not to mention the pressure sensitivity. Some of the brushes and for certain parts of the painting, I still much preferred the direct approach of painting with my finger. It's been a fun experimenting. Much more experimentation to come. I hope you enjoy my process.
children's illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
© 2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Crazy Dog

I didn't get a chance to post my paint play for #colour_collective on Friday since I got a new iPad! Yay! I've been have a ton of fun playing with that and my new Apple Pencil. This painting, however, was done in Photoshop. The color was Byzantium purple, and I used an old sketch from one of my first picture book projects I recently pulled off backup disks. I think I'll be taking another look at this story with this character and her silly dog who is always getting blamed for everything. I had fun with this trying to keep it loose and a bit messy. I hope you enjoy.
illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Treehut is Occupied. Oh my!

I forgot to post my illustration, Treehut Occupied, yesterday with the #colour_collective fun. It's never too late to share though, right?

This was another fun experiment with the color of the week khaki in a full-on monochromatic illustration. I started with a sketch from #inktober2016 dragons and played around with values in Procreate on my old iPad (new one has been ordered -- wahoo!), and then brought it into Photoshop to add final details. I love the idea of illustrating middle grade books, so you'll probably see more work like this coming up.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure I'm 100% happy with this one yet. But I did have fun, and ... dragon! I'd love to hear your thoughts. Successful or not? Suggestions? Critiques?

children's book illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Love

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is LOVE. We could all use more love right now. The power of love can save the world. So, go out and love everyone.
Love makes the world go around
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, LOVE

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sprout

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is Sprout which fits perfectly with one of my picture book projects I'm writing and illustrating. This is one of the scenes I'm playing with using Procreate. I approached this project very different from other projects. Instead of starting with a fully written story and then pencil sketches, this picture book started while paint playing with my old iPad, my finger, Procreate, and an idea. I created a variety of color scenes of a girl planting a seed while it's still snowing, then waiting, waiting, until...

Sprout Artwork by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

Friday, June 23, 2017

Gertrude Pye a Picture Book Character

Once again, colour_collective inspired me and pushed me to create something new in a color palette outside my norm with this week's color, licorice. This is the, Gertrude, the MC for a picture book I'm creating. Last week I shared her little brother who believes dragons are troublesome. Gertrude believes they are misunderstood. What do you believe?
character illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

Friday, June 16, 2017

Picture Book Character

I've had a crazy week without much art getting done. I really enjoyed having a few moments (or so) to paint play with this fun character from sketches for a little brother to a MC in a current picture book I'm writing and illustrating. As brothers often are, this little guy can be a pain, but ain't he cute?

I'm finding #colour_collective to be a great inspiration and deadline for painting something new and helping to expand my color palette each week. This week was Ceylon Yellow.

I hope you enjoy Bratford.
Traci Van Wagoner illustration for picture book
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mermaid Glade

Happy Friday! I had some fun this week in between a hectic and fairly dramatic week dealing with getting more work, tax problems, and family issues to paint one of my MerMay sketches, Mermaid Glade, for colour_collective. The color was iris blue. I'm enjoying expanding my abilities to paint backgrounds and settings as well as dramatic light and balancing textures and all that good stuff. I think I just might have pulled this one off.

If there's enough interest, I'll create a poster and other goodies in my Zazzle and RedBubble stores with this art. What do you think?
Traci Van Wagoner illustration
© 2017 Traci Van Wagoner, Mermaid Glade

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Girl in Yellow

Sitting in my studio on a rainy, dreary day in NYC,  I've decided the world needs a splash of yellow. So here's my Sweet Girl in Yellow. Perhaps the sun will come out tomorrow. Stayin' positive.
Girl in yellow by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Twitter Pitch Parties and Perfect Phobia

hashtag illustration
 My thoughts on twitter pitch parties:

Love them. They're a great kick in the seat of the pants to get me to finish things. I suffer from what I shall call, Perfect Phobia, and these online contest, pitch parties, word wars, etc. are a good remedy. I have a debilitating fear (if I let it) of everything having to be perfect. When I was in high school, a teacher once told me to stop worrying about my report being perfect and just get it done. I could always revise it. These contests help jar me out of the fear of perfection. I know manuscripts are supposed to be completely polished and ready to send, but then I'd never send anything. I have to let go at some point. Call it done.

My writing and manuscripts have improved in direct result of having subbed to online and twitter contests. And to be honest, I have to admit to submitting things that were not polished. While I thought they were finished to a high level, I do feel guilty for going against the rules when I had inklings some of my manuscripts were not as polished as they could be. However, my manuscripts wouldn't be in the better condition they are now without having done this, without the push of a deadline to complete to a solid level finish, and without the critiques and comments from generous authors also participating who nudged me in the right directions, helping me to recognize those inklings, the ticklings in the subconscious that I didn't look at directly -- like monster's eyes on the dark, don't look and they're not there. Well, they are and BOO! Gotta face 'em sooner or later.

I have received some likes (hearts) here and there. I haven't subbed to all of those since I'm searching for an agent for both my picture books (writing /illustrating) and my MG / YA. Many only rep older. But I'm not necessarily in these contests to find my agent. I am querying specific agents for that. I know there are success stories with these contests, but I also know how numb I get going through the feed of so many offerings. I don't know how agents and editors do it without it all becoming a jumble in their heads. So I don't pin my hopes on being discovered within the feed, but I do appreciate the kick in the seat of the pants and the feeling of community while constantly updating the hashtag feed.


I'd love to hear about your experiences and thoughts on twitter pitch parties. Do you love them? Hate them? Participate or not? Any success stories you want to share?

Here's a few I know of and have participated in. Please add any more on the comments.

#PBPitch
#PitMad
#KidPit 
#Pit2Pub

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ugga Mugga Love

The world needs love, lots of Ugga Mugga love. I painted this on Mother's Day thinking of my Mom who is so far away. This also works for Illustration Friday's theme this week, Mother. Go give your mother a kiss today! Aren't ugga mugga kisses the best?
Ugga Mugga by Traci Van Wagoner ©2017

Friday, May 5, 2017

Girl in Pink

Sorry I haven't posted here in a while. I've been busy finishing the illustrations for Rest in Peace RaShawn, which is now available (see Books), as well as finishing some new dog toy designs, and game designs and illustrations. It's good to be busy doing creative work.

On top of client work, I've been having fun paint playing both in Photoshop and on my old iPad with Procreate (which I LOVE).  Lately, I've dived into the @colour_collective challenges each week. I love playing with color and this gives me a jumping off point each week and encourages me to expand my color palette. I have to admit that many of the colors I would not have picked, so it has expanded my art world. This cautious girl and her cat were in my to-do-someday sketch file from past projects, both personal and work related, which spoke to me when I saw the color for this week, Mountbatten Pink. I painted this in Photoshop using my wonderful Cintiq. Enjoy!
Girl in Pink by Traci Van Wagoner
Girl in Pink © 2017 Van Wagoner

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hog Wild Storm

I've been having a ton of fun with my husband and business partner creating books and games for kids. This cute wild hog was inspired by a bunch of sketches I did for a new game we're helping develop for one of our clients. In the midst of our many projects, on a snowy day in New York I had fun painting this little guy struggling with his umbrella in the snow. And since this week's Illustration Friday prompt is Umbrella, this fits right in.
Hog Wild Storm by Traci Van Wagoner
© 2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Dreams

One night while vegging out to some TV,  I was paint playing on my old iPad with Procreate and my fancy-pants paint brush finger, and with one magical swipe, I discovered a whole bunch more fun and different brushes. Yay! So I set about playing with them, experimenting, doodling, dreaming, and this is what came about, Spring Dreams. My flowery painting also has a snail among other fun bugs, so it fits with Illustration Friday's prompt this week, Snail.

Happy Spring!

Spring Dreams by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, Spring Dreams

Friday, March 3, 2017

Heroic

I think people who stand up to bullies, to those who hate, to the greedy, to the power-hungry are heroic. This is my paint play for Illustration Friday's topic this week (yeah, a bit late) Heroic. Stand up for the little guys, stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Be bold and brave people. I dare you.

Illustration Friday Heroic
© 2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Stomp

I had some fun playing with Procreate on my old iPad painting with my finger and created this for Illustration Friday Stomp. I'm enjoying working on a looser style of art, plus I have to admit that last week I found a bunch of new brushes I hadn't played with before in the program. Have some fun today!

Illustration Friday submission
© 2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Illustration Friday: Swirl

I love to incorporate swirls into my art and many of my textures contain swirls, so this week's Illustration Friday topic is perfect. Swirl. This is a sample from a picture book of mine which I'm shopping around, Don't Fret, Fred. Cut off from the electronic world, Fred is worried a day with Gram and Gramps out in the boonies will be boring. Boy, was he wrong.

Don't Fret, Fred illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
Don't Fret, Fred @Traci Van Wagoner

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dare to Dream

In honor of Martin Luther King, I dare you to dream. I have chosen DARE as my word this year. Dare to dream, dare to send my work out to editors and art directors, dare to write what scares me, dare to draw things that challenge me. Dare to speak out. Dare to stand up for what is right, what I believe in, and what I want to see happen in our world.

What things do you want to dare do this year? I dare you to do them.
Dare to Dream by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Van Wagoner


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Booker T. Bear Debut

I'm very excited to share the news that Booker T. Bear is making his appearance in the world with his Booker T. Bear's Website! Yay! Go check it out, buy a book or two, and have some fun exploring Juneberry Square. Books One and Two in the Let's Go Series are available for preorder and will be available very soon.

The series of four books (so far) was written by Jen Jellyfish, M.M., illustrated by the creative team at Imagine That! Design (myself and my husband, Kurt Keller) and brought to you by The Library Store, Inc.

This fun series took up a good portion of my time in 2016. It was a fun adventure traveling the world with Booker and his friend Dahlya Dragonfly.

I'd love to hear what you think of Booker's fun adventures.


illustrated by Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner
Booker T. Bear Let's Go Series Book 1
illustrated by Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner
Booker T. Bear Let's Go Series Book 2