A Peek at Rilla Alexander’s Drawing Table

h1 February 27th, 2018 by jules


Looks like I’ve got cumulative tales on the mind lately. Today’s book — Jane Yolen’s A Bear Sat on My Porch Today (Handprint/Chronicle, March 2018), illustrated by Rilla Alexander — is, just like the book I featured on Sunday, another entertaining cumulative story. Jaunty rhymes, quick pacing, and Rilla’s exuberant retro illustrations mark this story of a bear who makes an appearance on a young girl’s porch, making himself at home.

The background colors of these spreads are pastel shades, and the porch itself (and the house) is actual white space on the page. Rilla gives bolder colors (some purples, oranges, and blues) to the girl, the bear, and the many creatures who appear and crowd the porch. After a squirrel, skunk, possum, jay, and even more creatures sit on the porch, everything comes crashing down in a striking spread, using that white space to great effect. There’s even an impressive gatefold, proving that teamwork can save the day.

I’ve got some art below from the book (rendered via pencil and digital collage) — which is Jane’s 365th book for children — and Rilla also shares some early sketches and process images. (An early character sketch is pictured above.) I thank her for sharing.


Early Character Sketches:





Light table (with Mr. Tom)
(Click to enlarge)


Pencil infills on light table
(Click each to enlarge)


Pencils on light table
(Click each to enlarge)


Infill example


Tracing the type
(Click two images above to enlarge)


Working Layouts:


First execution
(Click each to enlarge)


Sketch layouts
(Click each to enlarge)


Some Final Spreads:


“A skunk sat on my porch today
and started to spray, and started to spray. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and read text in its entirety)


“WAIT! Look out! …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


(Click to enlarge spread)



* * * * * * *

A BEAR SAT ON MY PORCH TODAY. Text copyright © 2018 by Jane Yolen. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Rilla Alexander. Published by Handprint Books, an imprint of Chronicle Books, San Francisco. All images reproduced by permission of Rilla Alexander and Chronicle Books.

4 comments to “A Peek at Rilla Alexander’s Drawing Table”

  1. WOW–lovely to see this Rilla–more of a look behind the scenes than I have had before. Love your process, and the line up of the pencils reminds me of the time I had a peek into Eric Carle’s work room. He had his pencils all lined up, too! JEALOUS***** Writers only get computers or typewriters. Not much fun.

  2. Thank you for this post. Its very inspiring.

  3. […] http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=4571 […]

  4. […] A look at Rilla’s drawing table […]

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