7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #367: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Deborah Hocking

h1 February 2nd, 2014 by jules

It’s the first Sunday of the month, and when it is such a day ’round these 7-Imp parts, I feature an illustration student or someone otherwise brand-new to illustration.

Today, I welcome student Deborah Hocking. I’m opening today’s post with my favorite of all the pieces she sent. Let’s get right to her introduction, since she’s here to say a few words in addition to sharing art.

I thank her for visiting today.

Deborah: I majored in art in college, and although I had thought of pursuing a career in painting, I began to realize that the art that really drew me in was children’s illustration. I remember going to a large art museum, and the exhibit that really got me excited was one down in the basement on picture book illustration, rather than all of the big and famous works in the large halls above. I fell in love with the work of Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger, in particular, and began dreaming of becoming an illustrator.

After college, I had the opportunity to work in France and ended up spending six wonderful years there. My job there didn’t permit me to work full-time as an artist, so I put my dream of becoming an illustrator on hold for those years. It was a time, however, of being influenced by the beauty and artistry that permeates life there, which has made its way into my work. These are some pieces that I did during that time:

In France, I also became acquainted with the work of children’s book illustrators Rebecca Dautremer and Beatrice Alemagna. Their work is so very beautiful and moving and, like the work of Lisbeth Zwerger, confirmed in me that I wanted to be a part of this kind of children’s illustration. I am deeply drawn to the creativity, whimsy, narrative aspect, and simple beauty found in children’s illustration.

When I moved back to the States last year, to my hometown of Portland, Oregon …

(Click to enlarge)

… I was stoked to finally be able to pursue 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 in this fascinating field!

I work most naturally in watercolor, pen-and-ink, pencil, and colored pencil. I love the washes, layers, line work, expressibility, and versatility that these mediums allow. Yet at the same time, I really enjoy trying new media and materials, exploring ways they can be mixed to arrive at my visual goal.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

Currently, I am working on an alphabet book, where the illustration for each letter contains a strong narrative, filled with objects beginning with that letter that support the story. It’s a fun challenge! Here is one finished piece, as well as some working sketches and character studies:

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

I’m also working on writing and illustrating a story based on a Central African tale about animals who join together to dig a well for their jungle community and how they deal with clever, crafty Rabbit, who doesn’t help with the work and steals water at night. Here are some sketches:

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

You can see more of my work at www.DeborahHockingIllustration.com.

Thank you so much, Jules, for this feature!

All images are used by permission of Deborah Hocking.

* * * * * * *

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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I sometimes volunteer to do story times at Parnassus Books in Nashville, and I really love reading to the children. It’s the thing I miss the most about children’s librarianship, reading to groups of children and hearing their reactions to books. I did this again yesterday and had a blast. There’s nothing like showing up and feeling only halfway awake, operating on half a cup of coffee, so I asked if they could yell “GOOD MORNING” to me. Sure enough, they did. That did the trick. I was awake after that.

2) At said story time, an old childhood friend showed up from Atlanta with his wife to surprise me and say a quick hello on their way to a Nashville concert.

3) Tomorrow—TOMORROW, I say—my co-author and I will be turning in all kinds of stuff for a big ol’ book deadline. We’re very near the finish line. Granted, some errant page numbers we are seeking from some of our sources continue to taunt us, but we’ll conquer them one way or another.

4) A very thoughtful surprise in the mail from my very thoughtful friend. Did you even know chocolates could be so beautiful? (Aesthetically pleasing though they may be, I had no trouble eating them. I’m here to report the caramel-apple one was the dreamiest.)

5) I listened to this while formatting the images for this post. There are many nice surprises on there, but I recommend you start with the beautiful, haunting cover from Ben Harper.

6) Oh, how could I forget? The ALA Youth Media Awards announcements on Monday were very exciting. Such a fun day for children’s and YA librarians. And I appreciated texts from some of my friends who were there in the room where the winners were announced (while I watched from home with my mug of coffee, blanket wrapped around me).

7) I’m saving the best kick for last. Deborah, featured here today, wrote this to me in an email:

I’ve been so encouraged by how generous, helpful, and welcoming people in this field have been.

I’d say that, on the whole, it’s true what she says. Picture book people, in particular, all the time strike me as genuinely friendly people. I’m glad this is Deborah’s experience.

One more thing:

May he rest in peace …

What are YOUR kicks this week?

20 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #367: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Deborah Hocking”

  1. Good morning, Imps! (Evening, as it were: I’m in a different time zone, so I snuck over here before I shut down the computer for the night!)

    Deborah Hocking: Lovely work! I really like the colour palette and the textures in the fox/fall picture, the layover text for the stairs the cat is descending, and the contemplative look upon the face of the skunk! The birthday party image brought to mind the book The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base. I think that beaver borrowed my outfit — and my grocery list. (Except for the soda. She can have that.) Did you hand-letter the name graphic and inset headers at your website? Good luck with your work! Please keep Jules posted.

    Jules: Yay, yay, and yay for y’all. You’ve poured heart & soul & knowledge & memories & more into this book. I cannot WAIT to read it. Also, making the kids yell “GOOD MORNING” to wake you up is priceless. May I use that in something I’m writing that takes place in a similar setting?! Glad that you got to visit with friends. I think those chocolates represent distant planets. Show that picture to Doctor Who, and I’m certain he’ll identify each in turn.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Recognition
    2) Consideration
    3) Writing
    4) Inspiration
    5) Motivation
    6) Direction
    7) Nerve center


    I like that trick, Pete Seeger would be proud.

    Deborah’s work is lovely and I have to agree about the kidlit world. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met are from that world. <3

    Jules – I'm so excited that you are at the home stretch for your book, you deserve that fancy chocolate. Someday when you come to the Cape I'll have to take you to Parnassus Books in Yarmouthport, it's right down the street from the Edward Gorey House.
    LW – Nerve Center? Hmm, I like the sound of that.


    1. Getting stuff done, even the unfun stuff.
    2. My Valentine got chosen for Society6's "Hate to Love " Collection. http://society6.com/product/We-Are-Just-Friends-Valentine_Print?tag=hate-to-love#1=4 Here is the story behind the Valentine http://moiraswiatkowski.com/2014/01/27/we-are-just-friends/
    3. I saw a snowy owl, a great blue heron and a cooper's hawk yesterday. I was just out running errands, not birding. Put it on the list of good things about winter.
    4. My winter schedule at the day job means more studio time.
    5. Chocolate
    6. Ordered some more promotional postcards.
    7. Man, Pete Seeger. I've been crying all week. This video made me cry when I watched it live and I'm crying now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE4H0k8TDgw

    Happy February!

  3. Deborah, I love the cat walking down the stairs as well as the cat birthday party. And woohoo, a Portland Gal. I hope we run into each other. Victoria is a fabulous mentor..
    Jules, I cannot wait to get your book! Your hardwork will pay off. Love the arty box of candy. Almost to beautiful to eat. “GOOD MORNING” is what I need this AM.
    LW: I always love your one word kicks especially today: motivation.
    My kicks:
    1. Cupcakes on Wednesday.
    2. Dawn Prochovnic as a guest story teller for PReK story time. She taught us the signs for color and we just had a jolly good time.
    3. My oldest grand girl’s thoughtfulness. She knows her grandma.
    4. Winning a signed copy of Flora and Ullysses by Kate DiCamillo.
    5. CYBILS deliberations.
    6. Friday day off for semester break.
    7. Asked to speak to students about writing at another school…an afternoon book club.
    Have a great week.

  4. Moira, we passed each other. Congrats on having you Valentine selected and snowy owls. Woohoo.

  5. Hi Jone, and thanks.

  6. Moira: Congratulations on the selection! Enjoy the studio time. And the chocolate. Hello to your winter visitors!

    Jone: Thanks! Hope you had a good long weekend. Good luck with the speaking engagement.

  7. Hello, Kickers!

    Loved the image of the cat coming down the steps, especially on what’s obviously an old book page. So I looked around to see if I could find the book in question. Couldn’t find one with exactly those words, but I did find this page… which indeed looks like paradis pour les chats, although probably torture for any earthbound Yorkies who might be spinning in circles on the floor below.

    Have a big old shot of something in your coffee on Tuesday, Jules. The gods know you deserve it!

    (And btw, when it was time to round up the kids at Parnassus to start story time, did you get on the PA and say, in a James Earl Jones voice, “Attention, parents: bring me your children!“?)

    Hey LW — I’d happily crib some of your kick #6 if you’ve got any to spare. 🙂

    Hi, Moira: must’ve felt great to see those birds!

    And as soon as I saw that Deborah Hocking was in Portland, I thought, oh boy, I hope Jone sees this. 🙂

    Kicks here:

    1. Did a casual survey of what I’ve been writing in the last couple of years. None of it book-length, alas, and not even much of it complete. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by (a) how much there was, (b) the range it covered, and (c) the… well, the worthwhileness of much of it. (Now if only I could, like, CONCLUDE more often. I seem to have plain-old stopping down pretty good. :))
    2. Watched Now You See Me last night. Gratifyingly entertaining!
    3. Sushi last night. Chili tonight.
    4. This song. Still hair-raisingly, viscerally thrilling (especially the video).
    5. Got my regular glasses back from the optometrist this week. Hello again, world.
    6. A thin layer of ice and — even snow! — on the ground this week: enough to delay going into work for an hour.
    7. xkcd’s weekly “What If?” feature.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  8. P.S. Whoa. Kinda overdid the smileys there…

  9. Jes, Kick number 4….beautiful.

  10. Jules, an aside — I just saw this article at the National Geographic site. It made me think of your candy treat, which made me laugh because— well, I think you’re sick enough to think the same thing. Ha.

  11. JES: Sure! Grab a compass and follow your gut – that’d be True North.

  12. I know I always say, “WOW!” about the art you feature, but, WOW! I love Deborah’s work. The hedgehog fisherman was right up my alley. 🙂

  13. What gorgeous illustrations today! Jules, your choccies are very pretty too…I would have to stare at them for a week before I was brave enough to eat them. Good luck & congratulations on your deadline!

    LW, I like to think of myself as intrinsically motivated rather than externally…but recognition is always nice 🙂

    Jone, Wednesday seems like the perfect day for cupcakes.

    Moria, I just googled those birds – gorgeous! That’s my favourite type of birding.

    JES, do you find ice super exciting because it’s rare? I loved playing with iced-over puddles in the UK.

    I have missed the last couple of weeks of kicks mostly because my husband has been away for work, and this coincided with a random teething/growth spurt/sleep regression/mysterious baby plot that meant the baby was waking up a lot more often.

    1. so kick number one: the baby and I survived! I only acted like a zombie some of the time!
    2. Due in no small part to going to stay with my mum who did things like cook and clean and say GO HAVE A SLEEP HE WILL BE FINE
    3. I don’t know if I’ve said but we’re going to the UK in March as my husband has a business trip there where he will be staying in an apartment, and I could get there for $28 due to his frequent flyer points. We are staying near where we used to live so I can catch up with all my friends there. V exciting!
    4. And yesterday I got some ridiculously cheap warm clothes from a second hand baby market as I presume babies don’t just wear nappies and singlets in cold weather.
    5. Lots of time with my little nieces, who are now almost 1 and 4. I am so glad we moved back here where we can see them grow up.
    6. My second journal paper has been accepted to a good journal!
    7. Normally the swallows in the neighbourhood hang out by the creek a few blocks away, but the other evening (at the end of a long day) we were sitting in the backyard and the swallows swooped around our heads. It was a beautiful moment.

  14. emmaco: Glad that you and yours are doing all right! I hope you have a lovely trip in March — and that you are able to catch up on sleep well before then.

  15. JES,
    Just wanted to let you know the link for the photo that you left above doesn’t work. Sounds like a picture I’d be interested in seeing, though!

  16. Little Willow: Sure, feel free to use it! … I like your cryptic last kick. I’ll have to think on it a while.

    Moira: YES to the bookstore AND the Edward Gorey House. … Aw, man. Thanks for the wonderful video. Congrats on kick #2! I still love that valentine.

    Jone, your afternoon book club sounds fun. I wish I could go.

    John, I’m so totally going to use the James Earl Jones’ voice next time. … I like your first kick. A lot. That must have been good to see and realize.

    Hi, Katy. Glad you like it.

    Emmaco, congrats on the journal paper! So glad you had help during the zombie phase. I hope your UK trip is good, and I look forward to hearing about it.

    Yes, JOHN, can’t see that pic.

    Speaking of zombies, I feel like one now. Have spent a day tracking down volume numbers and page numbers in journals, and I bet I missed a thousand things in your kicks. Signing off weakly for now and hope to be more awake tomorrow …

  17. Hi Everyone,
    love the art! So glad we get to know about her work early. Particularly loved the Northwest shot. I love Portland, and the beaver (was it?) on the bicycle with the lovely skirt and the tail sticking straight out from under the skirt – and a baguette in the basket!

    Great kicks as always – so glad to always learn of what is going on in the art and lives of this lovely group of human/art spirits.

    I am worn out, but happy overall, by the ALA awards. They are a mystery to me. I rarely understand the Caldecott choices. This year I like the winner and award books, but they wouldn’t have been my choices I think….I think. The endless post analysis I keep reading has me uncertain.

    My kicks:
    1. 9 years ago today (1st Sunday in Feb – Superbowl Sunday) I married a wonderful human being – my husband for whom I remain grateful.
    2. Martin and Mahalia by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney – just love this book.
    3. Our Tiny started doing the backwards wave this week at everyone and everything. Delightful!
    4. Great lunch and shoe shopping trip with my aunt the writer – great to catch up and admire her creativity and purpose.
    5. Singing in a choir
    6. Brimsby’s Hats – as introduced on 7 Imp earlier this week – I am smitten by this book
    7. Flora and the Flamingo – I am also wowed by this book

    Wishing you a week of beauty and art.

  18. I love the whimsy and “gentleness” of Deborah’s work. So glad you featured her.
    Thank you!

  19. Thanks all for the kind comments on my illustrations!

    Little Willow: yep, I hand-lettered the headers on my website.

    Jone: I hope we do run into each other here in PDX! Do you participate in SCBWI events?

    JES: the book I used for the background text on the cat picture was: Le Français par les Textes, an old school literature textbook that I found at a flea market.

    Jules: hope everything’s coming together perfectly today for your project!

  20. Allison, so glad you like Brimsby … isn’t it wonderful? … You had a good week with family and friends (singing friends, even!). … Also, Martin and Mahalia has one of my favorite spreads from all of last year.

    Thanks, Summer.

    And THANKS, Deborah, for visiting! ALMOST at the deadline. It is tonight, in fact. Nearly … there ….

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.