Monday, November 28, 2011

Kitchen Table Art

 A few nights ago, my eight year old son, Alexander and I were painting together on the kitchen table. Normally, Alexander makes images of sailboats, trucks, cars or his dog but this time, he choose to copy the owl I was doodling. Although he wasn't too sure that he liked his final painting,  I prefer his version of the owl so much more than my own. The thick lines and unsteady brush handling has SO much more appeal to me. What is it about children's art that is so satisfying?
Alexander's Owl

My owl

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Book Signing!

At the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park on Sunday, December 18th from 12-4 p.m., I will be facilitating the December Family Day Celebration! Family Day is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to participate in a hands-on art project as well as explore the amazing exhibits at the Mingei.

I will be helping visitors create collages- the same medium I used to illustrate my latest book, Colors of Me. The collage project is appropriate for artists of all ages and levels of experience. We will be using catalogs (all those Holiday catalogs are coming in handy this year!), colored paper, fabric and other found materials to create portraits, landscapes, patterns or whatever designs you can imagine. I will also be signing copies of Colors of Me (and juggling burning torches too if they ask).

Please come and help me make good use of the catalogs now clogging my mail box! Or check out the link below to see the book. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Great Challenge!

During the "First Impressions" portion of the SCBWI event, "The Big Picture of LIttle Lit," three of my more recent collage illustrations were reviewed by two art directors, Scott Magoon of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Susan Sherman of Charlesbridge Publishing. 

They both had some very encouraging words about the images as well as constructive suggestions to improve them. 

I've attempted to make those improvements digitally as a way of testing out various solutions before pulling apart the collages to make the final art.

 The above image was seen as too cluttered with foliage and point of the illustration unclear. (By way of background, this image is one of three I created as an exercise. Each image focuses on a Viking girl who discovers a dragon's egg hatching and befriends the hatchling. There's no actual story...yet!  Also, Scott and Susan thought the twist of the blond girl's neck was too awkward.
Here I reduced the foliage around the window to focus the eye into the window. I darkened the background of the window to give more contrast to the two figures. Also, I adjusted the blond girl's arm, neck and hand to seem more natural in addition to taming down the texture in her face. I also played with the edge of the image mostly just for fun. I think I need to keep working on the revision.....there is still too much green!

They liked this image but suggested that I remove the tiny section of text visible to the right of the nest (it is the label part of the old manila folder I used in the collage). They also suggested that I tone down the figure's cheeks as they are distracting. 

Here's the revised image! I think the revisions help the viewer (or at least me) focus on the scene at hand without so much visual noise. 

Here I go a-blogging!

Welcome to my blog! My name is Annika M. Nelson and I'm an artist, illustrator and educator. I'm leery of promoting myself but recognize the need to get with the times and join the adventure. I thought it was sufficient to have a website but apparently, there's so much more artists need to do to remain relevant and on publishers' radars. If you do want to see my website, it is

Although I've illustrated seven books, I've been needing a refresher on some of the basics to strengthen my style and marketability and went last week to a very informative SCBWI event, "The Big Picture of Little Lit." It was a very worthwhile use of a Saturday.The speakers, Scott Magoon of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Susan Sherman of Charlesbridge Publishing among others, were encouraging, constructive and willing to share very practical advice for illustrators of every level. 

In fact, I started this blog inspired by Susan Sherman of Charlesbridge Publishing. She encouraged the illustrators present to start blogs so that art directors could have a glimpse into our process as illustrators. It is helpful for them to see how we interpret text, how we sketch, revise and produce final art. 

So here I go a-blogging and hope you come along! 

Below is a sketch for the final page of my latest book written by Brynne Barnes, 
COLORS OF ME, published this year by Sleeping Bear Press. The Art Director, Felicia Macheske urged me to pack the scene with kids holding art in the final illustration.

This is the final art. I did the main part of the illustration while my son (then 7 years old) and his friend drew the crayon drawings.  

To see the book, follow this link to COLORS OF ME's page at Sleeping Bear Press.