Happy Sunday to all. Illustrator Jamie Hogan is visiting today to talk about her latest illustrated book, written by April Pulley Sayre and released back at the beginning of this year. It’s called Here Come the Humpbacks! (Charlesbridge, February 2013), and it tells the story of a humpback whale calf and its mother, as well as the dangers they face during migration.
The image above is from one of Jamie’s sketchbooks. It has nothing to do with April’s book (way more on that below); I just like it.
Let’s get to it, since Jamie talks a bit about creating the illustrations for this book and what’s next for her. (I wish we were chatting in person on the beautiful island where she lives in Maine.)
Jamie: I have a thing for seven. Is it cosmic or coincidental that my last 7-imp [visit] was in July of 2007?
It so happens I’ve now illustrated seven books. A couple of them have been published in other countries, too. No small thrill for one who lives on a rock about three miles around.
The main thing is, I live on an island in Maine. Three miles out to sea, in fact. I began drawing pastels of seascapes and boats after moving here 21 years ago. Getting to the ferry on time punctuates my life.
I was ecstatic to be asked to illustrate April Pulley Sayre’s story about a humpback whale and her calf, Here Come the Humpbacks!. I learned so much doing research for the book. It also meant using a lot of blue pastel — and dreaming about whales right out in the water beyond my cluttered studio.
When I take the ferry to Portland, there are always tankers in Casco Bay.
I drew them for the story, since shipping lanes are one of the hazards for humpback whale migration.
Here’s one of the sketches I provided. I typically draw around the text areas in pencil. I waited almost two months for approval of sketches, because they needed to be verified by marine scientists for accuracy. That’s non-fiction for you!
I transferred my sketches to a sanded pastel paper –in this case, a deep red. I let some of the red show through in order to create a color vibrancy with all the blue.
With soft pastels I’m able to layer over colors, like painting with pigment.
I left the jelly fish for last! Here’s the final illustration, in which the humpbacks travel many miles — over trash and turtles.
I worked on the cover illustration absolutely last. I showed seven sketches, of course! This was my favorite. I liked the whale being too big for the book jacket.
The publishers liked this one best:
They asked that both the mother and calf appear on the cover, so I did this revision and added a lobster boat on the back.
Here’s the final book jacket cover, designed by Martha Sikemma at Charlesbridge:
All during this time, which was about six months, I also was drawing in a sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project 2013 as a fun alternative to my deadline. I drew people and places in Portland, such as Kirsten Cappy, below, sitting pretty in front of a Portland restaurant, Bresca.
She’s also the whiz behind Curious City, who helped me plan a really fun book launch that included a 40-foot inflatable humpback whale, named Istar. Istar just barely fit in the Portland Public Library’s auditorium. This is Curious City intern, Delany Honda, making sure everything is ready.
It was truly awesome.
I illustrated cards for a migration game that went all around the room, in which kids pretend to be a baby whale going on the journey that happens in the book.
Should I be surprised that kids really like blowing bubbles like baby whales do?
The highlight of my summer was finally going on a whale watch in Nova Scotia. And we saw humpback whales! I gave a copy of my book to Petit Passage’s friendly nature guide, Suzanne, who immediately shared it with this family on board for the ride back to port. Absolutely made my entire YEAR.
Now that I’m back in my studio, I’m just starting on another book for Charlesbridge, this one titled John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall by Julie Danneberg. It takes place in Yosemite. All I’ve done so far are preliminary thumbnail sketches, enough to need more reference. I’ve gotten twelve books from the library about him and, yesterday, watched John Muir in the New World, a pretty cool documentary. I had my neighbor, Peter, pose for me out in my daughter’s little pine clubhouse in the backyard.
She’s sixteen now and has no use for it, but it suddenly felt to me like just the right spot to be unplugged. Maybe I’ll do my sketches out there!
I grew up in the White Mountains and visited Yosemite during my years living in San Francisco. I’ve worked before with the designer for this book, Whitney Leader-Picone (a California native), on Nest, Nook & Cranny (Charlesbridge, 2010) by Susan Blackaby and A Warmer World (Charlesbridge, 2012) by Caroline Arnold. We have fun together, and I am eager to draw tall pines and waterfalls!
HERE COME THE HUMPBACKS! Copyright © 2013 by April Pulley Sayre. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Jamie Hogan. Published by Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA. All images here used with permission of Jamie Hogan.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
Sorry to be brief, but my seven kicks today are wrapped up in the fact that it’s my husband’s birthday this weekend, and we’ve been celebrating. I was so busy celebrating I almost didn’t get to this post. (Blogging should never get in the way of life, mind you, so I made sure to celebrate first, but I’d also never let my kickers down. So, here I am. In the nick of time.)
What are YOUR kicks this week?
Quick note: Here’s a Publishers Weekly article about the fundraiser author/illustrator Joe McKendry and his wife, Susan, put together shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing. Many artists have signed on to participate. In case anyone is interested in contributing, all the info is at that link.