Merry Christmas

The First Noel
The First Noel illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen. 1959. This is my staple Christmas post - I absolutely love the illustrations in this book and will share this with you, my readers annually because they are so worth sharing. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, people.

With much love, peace & happiness,
Ward Jenkins aka Ward-O-Matic.

The First Noel: title page

The First Noel: 1-2

The First Noel: pp. 5-6

The First Noel: pp. 7-8

The First Noel: pp. 11-12

The First Noel: pp. 13-14

The First Noel: pp. 17-18

The First Noel: pp. 21-22

And finally, the back cover:

The First Noel: back cover


Merry Christmas Eve

The Condenser 1957

A wonderful gift from a good friend of mine, Brad Ross-McCloud aka The King of Jingaling. Thanks, Brad! You know me so well.

A great illustration by "Faulkner," from 1957.


Phoenix Illustrations

I've always wanted to do editorial illustrations for magazines and newspapers and I've done some here and there, but never of any celebrities or important people in the news. Until recently. The Phoenix in Boston asked me to do a few illustrations of people to accompany interviews, and boy, was I thrilled.

The first was of documentary filmmaker and author Errol Morris, who was interviewed for the November 9th, 2012 issue. Here's the rough sketch first:

Errol Morris - rough
I drew this with my Cintiq in Photoshop - I have a pencil brush I use for the black lines, and a chalk brush for the brushy, pastel-y effect for the grays. I decided to abandon the ribbon encircling Errol with all the interviewers and cameramen because I thought it seemed cliché.

As I was working on the various different shades of gray on his face, I liked the effect that gave me, so I decided to take it further in the color stage:

Errol Morris
My concept with the multi-hued color treatment here was that I liked the idea of how Errol approaches his subjects - viewing them through a multi-faceted lens, so to speak. Trying to look at any and all aspects of a particular event that might've affected a subject, like the Jeffery MacDonald case from 1972 - of which he's written a book about the case and why he was being interviewed by the Phoenix in the first place.

The next illustration I did was of political statistician Nate Silver for the November 5th, 2012 issue. (I actually drew the Errol Morris one first, but the interview was held until after this one was published.) Below is the rough sketch, again drawn in Photoshop on my Cintiq:

Nate Silver - rough
For both illustrations, I had already drawn several pencil sketches in my sketchbook leading up to the digital sketching, as a way of trying to get the subject right. For Nate, I felt that I got his appearance right away. Errol was a bit more difficult to capture. (I'm not a caricaturist by heart - but I do my best.)

Nate Silver final
I really had fun drawing this one of Nate. I went with the obvious red/blue for the two opposing political parties - splitting Nate right down the middle, so as not to give any preference for him (since he's just stating facts & figures on his blog and not offering any opinions). Notice that his left is blue, his right is red. AND, notice that in the background, the left side is blue, the right is red. Worked out perfectly, I think! Nate's blog on the NYTimes site is called FiveThirtyEight Blog, hence the number "538" in the illustration.

Been really enjoying working on these illustrations, even with a quick turnaround. I'm happy to say that I'm currently working on a third piece for the Phoenix - of an actress/musician who's in one of my favorite current TV shows. Very much looking forward to working on that one!


SCBWI Bulletin Cover

Bulletin in person

You probably have heard me talk about SCBWI here from time to time. It's the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and they are dedicated in helping people who are writers and illustrators to better hone their craft with the hope of getting published. I've attended several of the conferences they've put out, including one national and several local chapters. This past May I was honored to be a part of the faculty for our local chapter's annual gathering, SCBWI-Oregon's Spring Conference. One of the highlights during the 2-day event was sitting next to Lin Oliver during the faculty panel. I mean, really? C'mon, the Lin Oliver? Executive Director of SCBWI? Sitting next to me? It was a bizarre moment.

At one point, Lin leaned over to me and said how much she loved my work. She'd been looking at my postcards and portfolio and liked what she saw. She then asked if I'd be willing to illustrate a future Bulletin cover. After picking up my jaw from my lap, I said "uh, HECK YEAH!" No, actually I think I was a bit more subtle, but I was definitely floored and flabbergasted that she'd consider me as a future cover artist for them. I told her yes, it would be quite an honor.

So, fast-forward several months and I'm doing sketches for the cover. I had an idea that stemmed from talking with Andrea about what to illustrate. See, each issue has a kite for its theme - the SCBWI logo features a kite, therefore every issue has had a kite featured either prominently or not so prominent on the cover. I wanted to do something vastly different, and not go any typical route, like flying kites up on a hill or something. After brainstorming with me for several minutes, Andrea at one point said, "Well, what about doing a mural?" That's it. Something clicked in my head and I started sketching right away. Out of that session, I ended up with two main roughs that I sent to SCBWI for approval:


So, the idea would be that the mural would serve as a beacon of warmth and light in the midst of a blustery, wintery, snowy day, right in the throes of winter. Much like graffiti does in the middle of blighted areas: pops of color blooming like poppy blossoms in a stark, vast field. I was excited about this idea and was extra excited to work out a little visual play with the boy spray painting the kite's string, making it look like he was actually pulling the kite.

The version that was chosen was the top one - the lower point of view made it easier to see the large mural, as the other version felt less intimate. I thought that the impact of this colorful mural was getting lost. My SCBWI contact felt so, too.

So, here's the final for you to check out, in all its brilliantly loud glory:
SCBWI Bulletin Nov/Dec 2012

(By the way, please be sure to give credit if you decide to share with your peoples - many thanks!)

The Christmas season is upon us and I'm slowly but surely getting into the spirit of things here. Hope this gives you a little jolt of happiness, just in time for the weekend. Enjoy!