Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Headless Horseman Spooky Art

Have a Spooky Halloween!

Illustration Friday's Spooky prompt was perfect for this week. I'm sure that was the idea. 

I've always been fascinated by the Headless Horseman and since that's pretty spooky and since it's Halloween, I painted this for some spooky fun. Have a spooktacular day!

Headless Horseman, spooky art by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Madame Animalia a Picture Book Character

Concept art for my picture book project, That Dragon Must Go.

The Wondrous Madame Animalia, Trainer of Animals both Rare and Fantastical.

Madame Animalia character concept art for That Dragon Must Go by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

I had started this character color study for last week's #colour_collective with the blue of the sky, but work project deadlines took over and I didn't get a chance to finish, so this week's Deep Saffron worked just as well with the tent and Madame Animalia's pants.

I've posted other characters and setting concept art for this project that you can see here. I have a completed a rough sketch dummy for this book and am in the process of creating a final dummy for submitting. This project took over this month instead of doing Inktober, and I'm thrilled with the progress I've made.

And now it's time to go sketch. Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to follow or subscribe to be on top of the latest updates. If you'd like to see more of my work, be sure to visit my new and improved website.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Cute Cheetah Family in the Jungle

Cheetah Family in the Jungle children's art by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

Children's Illustration 

I was going through some old files to see what struck my fancy for this week's paint play with the color Midnight Green for #colour_collective
and these little cheetahs jumped out out me, begging me to paint them. I mean, just look at those eyes. How could I resist?

I had so much fun creating this adorable cheetah family in Photoshop with some fun brushes and my signature style texture. The characters came from some sketches I did while designing an animal racing game for a client

Thanks for stopping by, I hope my painting brings some smiles and perhaps some illustration work as well.

Don't forget to subscribe or follow me to keep up on the latest news, paintings, behinds the scenes peeks, and the occasional art tip. If you're interested in getting my art on posters, cards or more, please visit my Zazzle store TVW Creations or my new RedBubble store.

And please check out my children's illustrator and author website for all my latest work. I have recently updated it so it's all fancy and brand spankin' new! Check it out. Thanks!

Friday, October 13, 2017

A New Picture Book Project: Ruth Asawa

About celebrating the little things and the BIG things, like getting another book illustration job.

Ruth Awawa: A Sculpting Life cover sketch by Traci Van WagonerRuth Asawa: A Sculpting Life written by Joan Schoettler and illustrated by me from Pelican Publishing

I realized that I haven't shared the good news that Pelican Publishing hired me to illustrate another book. Yay! In February of this year, Kevin, Pelican's Art Director, emailed me with a different type of manuscript about a real person with which he thought I could have some fun. I read the manuscript, a biography about an artist I'd never heard of before, Ruth Asawa a Japanese-American artist. With a little web research, I was hooked. Check out my pinterest board where I've collected a ton of images and research on Ruth and her work. It's stunning.

I emailed Kevin with my terms and schedule, and guess what? A few days later...

Yipee! celebratory art by Traci Van Wagoner I got the job - Yippee!

So, I did this quick celebratory illustration and sent it to Kevin.

Here's a run down of what I've been doing and the progression of this project.


The Contract fold from Pelican for the new picture book job, Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life for Traci Van WagonerI got contract and initial payment and the researching began, starting with Ruth Asawa.com -- amazing information and images. I also found David Zwirner gallery. I sent an email explaining the project and asking if they had any information they could provide, and/or sculptures to see in person.

Prep for text dummy for Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life written by Joan Schoettler to be illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner

I completed a text dummy and dove into more research.

Sketching begins on Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life written by Joan Schoettler being illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner
Sketches began where I explored and learned more about Ruth and got to know her and her work. And then I needed more in depth research.

Color Final for Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life written by Joan Schoettler, illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner
I painted the first color sample in which I established the painting style and basic color palette.

They loved it.

Final sketches in progress for Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life written by Joan Schoettler, illustrated by Traci Van WagonerIt was time to finish off the sketches. Oh yeah, and more research for the nitty-gritty details of all the scenes.

As I was finishing off the sketches, I heard from Jonathan Laib, the curator at David Zwirner. Earlier this year the gallery became the executors of the Ruth Asawa estate. They were preparing for an opening featuring Ruth's work, and he graciously offered to show me some of the smaller sculptures before the show. Laura, his assistant, called a couple days later and invited me to the gallery for a private showing of a few of the smaller sculptures. It was amazing! (Thank you, Laura and Jonathan!)
Photo taken by Kurt Keller of Traci Van Wagoner at David Zwirner Gallery with Ruth Asawa sculpturePhoto taken by Kurt Keller of Traci Van Wagoner and Jack McDowall at David Zwirner Gallery with Ruth Asawa sculpturePhoto taken by Kurt Keller at David Zwirner Gallery of Ruth Asawa sculpturePhoto taken by Kurt Keller at David Zwirner Gallery of Ruth Asawa sculpturePhoto taken by Kurt Keller at David Zwirner Gallery of Ruth Asawa sculpture

(photos by Kurt Keller, Ruth Asawa sculptures at David Zwirner with Traci Van Wagoner and Jack McDowall)

I was totally mesmerized when I saw these in person. The photos don't do the sculpture justice. There is a magical quality when you see them in person with the looped wire interacting with itself and the air.

“My curiosity was aroused by the idea of giving structural form to the images in my drawings. These forms come from observing plants, the spiral shell of a snail, seeing light through insect wings, watching spiders repair their webs in the early morning, and seeing the sun through the droplets of water suspended from the tips of pine needles while watering my garden." ~ Ruth Asawa

With a renewed energy after seeing some of these amazing intricate sculptures in person, I finished and sent the final sketches.

While waiting for approval, I was thrilled to be able to go to the gallery opening at David Zwirner where I had the opportunity to see a couple rooms filled with Ruth Asawa sculptures,* and I was able meet Jonathan. He is open to the idea of having a book opening there next fall when the book comes out. Stay tuned for updates on that.

The sketches were very well received with only a few minor revisions needed, and I got wonderful and encouraging comments from the author. I love it when what I'm doing and trying is well received and understood.
"Thank you for choosing Traci Van Wagoner to illustrate Ruth Asawa’s story. Her story sketches cover my dining room table like a gift, complimenting my words with her illustrations. Traci’s research flows throughout her illustrations. Her creativity and designs fit Ruth’s story well.

In looking at the format of the book, Traci incorporated many different structures on the pages from double spreads to vertical and horizontal styles, and to lovely looping with illustrations within the curls. The size variations of framed illustrations add subtle dimensions, showing the reader the diversity and range of Ruth’s art too…always trying something different, exploring, and experimenting. The double page spreads interspersed in the book are a treat for the reader. They focus on important pages. The four-section page with the train has a real sense of movement. I enjoy the subtle passage of time through the sun and moon." ~Joan Schoettler
Thanks Joan! You made my day!

And I got some wonderful kudos from Kevin: Traci Van Wagoner – That girl is the bomb!

I completed the revisions and sent that over. Pelican decided to send the sketches to Ruth's daughter to make sure we got everything right. She had a few changes and suggestions, but overall she loved what I'm doing. I have one spread to rework, and then I'm set for painting.

Now you are up to date. Be sure to check back for more updates as I move into the painting phase of this project.

*The Ruth Asawa show at David Zwirner runs from September 13 through October 21, 2017. If you're in New York, I would recommend checking it out.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Girl with Ruby Pink Walls

Character Art from Inktober Sketches

Going on an adventure, inktober 2017 character sketch by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner
This girl spoke to me from my Inktober sketches and begged me to paint her. I combined the two sketches you see on the left to create the final character I painted. She wants to go on an adventure like the girl and dog in my Balloon Lift Off series, which you see posters of on her wall. Her ruby pink walls were inspired by last week's colour_collective prompt. I painted most of this on my iPad Pro with Procreate, and finished it in Photoshop since the iPad was required elsewhere.
The Girl with Ruby Pink Walls childre's book character art by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner, all rights reserved

I had originally titled this, Running Away, but I'm not so sure she's running away versus running TO an adventure.

What do you think?

Her pen and ink counterpart in my Inktober series is on an adventure now. I'll be sharing my first week's drawings soon of Around the World in 31 days with Georgia and her Dragon, Swift, so be sure to check back.

Thanks ever so much for stopping by!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Pirate Island Concept Art

Setting inspiration paint play for one of my picture book projects

I didn't get a chance to post over the weekend since Inktober started and that sort of took over everything. I'll share more on that later. I also discovered the Bullet Journal system and had a ton of fun setting that up. It may be exactly what I need to get organized and settled and get stuff done instead of hummingbird fluttering from project to project and idea to idea, around and around.

Anyway, back to the topic of this post, Pirate Island. I had fun working out this setting for a picture book of mine. It involves a dragon and has a pirate flair. The kick-in-the-seat-of-the-pants I needed to get this image and concept out of my head and onto paper (so to speak) was, surprise-surprise, #colour_collective with the color prompt, Old Lace (the top part of the sky.)

Now that I have an image of the world my MC lives in, I can sketch out the scenes of her and her brother and a dragon interacting in the world easier. I'm excited to finally get the dummy book done for this one. I'm quite in love with the final story and this setting.

Picture book writers, do you find it helpful to have a setting image available while writing to ground your characters in their  world? This question goes for illustrators as well, actually. I previously have created character sketches (see below) before doing the dummy book, but not often the setting.

Pirate Island setting concept art for a picture book project by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner

Character exploration art for the picture book project

Gertrude character art for a picture book project by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner
Bratford, the brother, character art for a picture book project by Traci Van Wagoner
©2017 Traci Van Wagoner