Thursday, October 06, 2011

James and the Giant Peach

James and the insects flung all about inside the peach pit
These page spreads are for the Children's Book Rally contest over on Illustration Rally. The contest asked that we stick to a classic familiar story. I asked my twitter friends for story suggestions and Kim Fleming mentioned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which got me me on the Roald Dahl track, and one of my all-time favorites, 'James and the Giant Peach'. (Kim also posted about the contest on her wonderful new Illustration Station blog that you should check out.)

They encounter sharks & escape by tying silkworm strings to a flock of seagulls
My 5th grade teacher read 'James and the Giant Peach' to us, and I was instantly fascinated by the pure imagination of it all. What's best of all is how the insects all look to James to come up with solutions to the dilemmas they face on their journey, and he ends up finding a family where he belongs, and is loved. What more could you ask for?

Painting insects seemed to make sense seeing how I've been photographing them in my garden all summer. I first encountered a baby grasshopper on the inside of my car windshield. He chewed on me.
He decided to stick around.
Isn't he cute? He's even smizing.
 Then he nibbled on my green pepper plant, which may explain the lack of peppers.

He ended up growing quite large, and protective of that 1 single pepper.

I also hosted another garden guest. For the first time ever  I spotted a praying mantis who stuck around for weeks. If I rustled some leaves his head would turn towards me in the most creepy way, but definitely cool.

With this project I finally had a use for these big reference books I had bought at Half Price Books back in my college days. Back in the time before google searches. I had to face some of my darkest fears though. Sharks give me nightmares, and there are swarms of scary insects in there. Even bugs, ya know, 'doing it'. Oh, my innocent eyes!

Ok, on to the process shots. I used very thin board this time since it would be more practical if I did a book in this technique. Thinner boards are much easier to cut.

The woodgrain on this board was just gorgeous. Check out those waves! This led to me to painting as thin as possible to let the grain show through, which was an extra challenge.

After the base 'stain' I sketched and shaded a bit. Then after several hours and many thin layers we have the finished paintings.

To wrap up, here's my usual sketching location on the couch. I used to only have a tiny table lamp, and found myself leaning over to it, so I found this lamp at Cost Plus which gave me great overhead light. It came with little oval oriental shades which I changed out with some grapevine balls I've had forever, and painted them white. The more natural rustic style feels more 'me'.

I then added rice paper to the inside. Someone told me the lamp looks a bit insect-like. See how this ties into the post now? Full circle


Guiomar González said...

Wow! Wonderful illustrations :)

Nina Crittenden said...

Outstanding! It was fun that you posted process pics. Well done, Angela! You are a peach! :)

Andi Butler said...

Thanks for sharing your process for your gorgeous paintings, Ang! They're truly magical and dreamlike, so pretty : ) nice work!

Di said...

Gorgeous! And I love your grape vine lamp shade too!

Jennifer Noel Bower said...

Angela, these are absolutely amazing. I've always loved your work but these absolutely took my breath away. A winner in my book. Best of luck to you.

lil kim said...

Amazing Angela. Your sharks and insects turned out so well, despite your phobia! (I love the shark with the round mouth - so cute)

I love that you're hosting all those guys in your backyard. And yes your lamps are very insect-like, feelers and everything!

oh and thanks for the mention! :)


Claudio Cerri said...

Great job. Very interesting post!

Katherine Herriman said...

Hi, this is my first time on your blog. I absolutely remember being read "James & the Giant Peach" in primary school! I'm such a sucker for WIP shots -- I'd love to see more and at different stages!

P.S. Have you seen the work of Amy Sol and how she incorporates wood grain into her paintings? So inspiring:

Angela Matteson said...

Thanks for all the support everyone!

Katherine, If you do a search for 'process' in the Search This Blog on the right column of my blog you'll find some more process posts.

Yes, I love Amy Sol! Her work is enchanting. :)

Julissa Mora said...

Oh YAY, we finally get to see your paintings for the IR contest. They look great! I love all of the details you put into the clothing in the first painting and the water & sharks came out groovy in the second one!

Lol at the smizing reference - I think I saw that episode.

And thanks for sharing your process, you're so good about that!

Eric Barclay said...

flippin' awesome!

Casey G. said...

Those are fan-flipping-tastic! I love them. It brought me back to James and the Giant Peach. You brought something fresh to this story.

I also love seeing your process of painting on the wood. Are you just getting that from the hardware store?

Stacy A. Gray said...

Wow, just, wow. I love seeing the process too! Beautiful interpretation of that story. I really love the sharks, scary, but beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us!

Shirley said...

Gosh, Angela..what a fantastic post! These illustrations are GORGEOUS...the woodgrain, the feel of it all just is unique and so beautifully illustrated. Love the photos of the insects..they are amazing, and wow, you have a great sketching place - love what you did in place of the shades!