What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring A Visit with Victoria Jamieson

h1 August 2nd, 2012 by jules

Early sketch from Victoria Jamieson’s Olympig!

Tomorrow at Kirkus, I write about the new picture book from Daniel Pinkwater and Will Hillenbrand, Bear in Love, which surprised me. That link will be here in the morning.

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Last week, I wrote about Victoria Jamieson’s Olympig! and why it surprised me, too. That link is here.

Today, as always, I follow up with more art, including early sketches from Victoria. Victoria is also here to talk a bit about the book. Enjoy.

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Victoria: I first began imagining the character of Boomer when I painted a snowflake for the online charity auction, Robert’s Snow (created by author/illustrator Grace Lin).

For some reason, the idea of an ice skating pig who thinks he’s really awesome at the sport, while actually having no talent whatsoever, struck me as funny. I kept doodling that non-athletic pig in the margins of my notebooks until I built an entire story around him.

I’ve been mildly obsessed with the Olympics my entire life. My mom staged a Kid Olympics in our neighborhood when I was six, and despite my stunning loss in Gymnastics, the drama and the pageantry appealed to me. (I’m the sad-looking gymnast in the front right.) I wasn’t terribly athletic, but a sporting event where I could make flags and march in a parade? Sign me up! One of my great hopes is that Olympig! will help inspire parents, teachers, and community centers stage their own Kid Olympics. I built a section on my website to include Olympic crafts and event ideas with this in mind. Especially with childhood obesity on the rise, it’s another angle to get kids excited about sports and wellness.

I do all of my preliminary sketches in pencil and scan those in to make my first dummies. Once all of the sketches are approved, I do all of my color studies in Photoshop first. This is a trick I learned from reading an interview with Peter Brown, and it’s changed my life. Color has always been difficult for me—I’m much more comfortable with drawing—so being able to try out different colors and lighting before doing the final painting is great for me.

Once I’m happy with the color scheme, I’ll print out the study and place it next to me while I paint — all of the final paintings are acrylic on watercolor paper. I stole the idea of mixing all of my colors beforehand from Johanna Wright. She mentioned this idea when she spoke at a course I teach at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

“Boomer did not feel proud. Olympic champions did not quit. They practiced hard, they tried their best, and they never gave up. And there was still one event left!”

“He got the lowest score in Olympic history. Mr. Hamstring croaked, ‘Any final words for our viewers at home?’ ‘Well, Hammy, maybe I didn’t win a gold medal today,’
said Boomer, ‘but I realized something very important. I realized . . .”

Having all of my colors pre-mixed makes the painting process much easier and more like drawing for me. Instead of having to mix new colors each time, I could just reach for my “Boomer Shirt – Medium” Tupperware when I needed it.

Added bonus: Creeping out visitors with Tupperware containers labeled things like “Pig Skin – light.”

Early jacket sketches


Final jacket

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OLYMPIG! Copyright © 2012 by Victoria Jamieson. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers. All images here reproduced with permission of Victoria Jamieson.

3 comments to “What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring A Visit with Victoria Jamieson”

  1. So great! I loved reading her trick that she learned from Peter Brown about colorizing in Photoshop. And…the olympic photo of her has a kid …tee hee!!!
    Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to hold a copy.

  2. So enjoyed the process and tips. Great energy, Boomer! And yes, for once, getting real. You CAN’T win ’em all. And that should be okay. This book looks better than okay. Can’t wait to hunt it up.

  3. […] becoming an illustrator full-time. I enrolled in a children’s book illustration class taught by Victoria Jamieson, which gave me a ton of direction and help along this path, and I’m super excited to be starting […]

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