Laughter is the best medicine.
Just ask Penelope.
She dressed Snowie in a tutu…poor doggie.
And found the result hilarious–in a tears draining from eyes, giggle-fit kind of way.
Our hope today…that you would see the world through the eyes of a child and find happiness and laughter in your day.
Halloween has come and gone – even if the candy is still sticking around!
When thinking about the feel of the world Penelope inhabits, my mind often changes, based on the type of thing Penelope might be up to, or how I imagine it might look or feel to her and her friends …
Halloween is ghostly. It’s a bit magical. The streets are transformed, from safe and predictable, to spooky and unpredictable.
Inverted, one might even say …
Here, the kids stand, bathed in the glow of another open doorway. Or maybe the glow is reflected off the treasure they’ve come to collect? The kids themselves are re-made, their identities fluid and ephemeral, like the drawings they spent so much time sketching out weeks earlier as they eagerly anticipated and planned their Halloween alter-ego adventures …
Penelope peered at her friends through the crackling flames with a mischievous grin. “Once upon a time,” she lowered her voice, “there was a dark, dark forest.”
Gripping the hands of her chair, Eloise’s eyes widened with fear and anticipation.
“And inside the forest,” Penelope spread her arms wide, “there was a dark…,” she paused for effect, “dark tree.”
Above their heads, a large maple swayed, its limbs black next to the starlit sky.
“You can’t scare me!” scoffed Junjie.
She leaned closer. “And in the tree, was a dark,” she lingered on the word, “dark nest.”
“Ohh!” Eloise covered her mouth with a trembling hand.
Overhead, a branch creaked.
Junjie’s eyes shot toward the sound. “Nothing but a bird, I bet.”
“And in that nest,” Penelope’s words barely rose above a whisper, “there was a dark, dark….” Her body tensed.
Eloise and Junjie hung on her every word.
The pounding waves filled their silence.
Junjie almost fell out of his chair.
Penelope giggled. “Gotcha!”
Their laughter carried across their campsite.
“My turn,” said Eloise.
“Once upon a time….”
You know that moment when everything stands still…
when only the waves whisper alongside the gentle murmur of the evening breeze…
and the stars glimmer in the dark as the sun sets on the painted horizon?
These things I love about camping.
Penelope Bloom is doing what I love to do.
Standing in silence, she takes it all in.
It’s amazing how the majesty of nature can calm the energy of a child. In this moment, Penelope remembers all of the fun she had playing during her busy day. She wonders on how such a busy place could now be so peaceful. Contemplating it all, she stores it up as a treasured memory.
The winter Olympics are over now, but boy were they fun to watch when they were happening!
The athletes of every nation are so inspiring, they make me want to try many of the amazing things they are able to do … (this year I decided I might want to try hockey … lol).
Near the end of the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Janna and I wondered what Penelope and her friends might be doing in response to the inspirational athletics they were watching. We decided that they would most likely join in, with great imagination and enthusiasm, and that it might look a little like this …
Dream big dreams! These three sure do!
I never know when I’m going to get an idea that I need to remember … which is why I like to take my sketchbook everywhere I go.
Sometimes, however, I forget to bring it along. That’s when it’s time to get creative. Thankfully, most places will have something to write on, even if it is just a serviette.
Just a little while ago, I was out for lunch with some friends. If you’ve ever been to Montana’s, then you know how it is: a whole table covered in fresh kraft paper to doodle on!
So here is a little idea brought to life with a purple crayon on the table covering at a Montana’s somewhere in southern Ontario.
It’s not perfect, but it’s the start of something cute …
Junjie, as one of Penelope and Eloise’ close friends, will end up in many stories and pictures in our books.
Before drawing scenes to illustrate our book, I like to spend time getting to know the characters. I’ve done that with Penelope and Eloise so far, and now I’m doing that with Junjie.
I do this by drawing him (all of them, in fact) in as many positions, activities, and scenarios as I can imagine.
It’s a lot of fun to do, and it helps me build a history and rich personality for each character (besides the one that they were each created to have).
Below is an example from my sketchbook of some exploratory drawings of Junjie. As I draw, I become familiar with how he stands, sits, and moves … which allows me to focus more on the imaginative settings in the story .
Getting something right, often means a lot of repetition and practice!
Penelope is blonde and wears a lot of pink. Eloise has curly black hair and mostly wears green. What colours would Junjie have?
I think, there will be a variety of colours with Junjie. He will often be pictured with his trusty magnifying glass in the future … and his is a truly scientific mind. I think his colours will tend to change with his goals and pursuits :).
As for his eyes, I thought hazel would be nice …
The third of our irrepressible little trio is a boy, named Junjie.
Yesterday, I began to work out what he might look like, and how he and the girls might relate.
This is a first sketch … and I like it so far.
Pictured below are two stages of a drawing; first, the blue pencil drawing (it’s an erasable animation pencil), and second, the drawing after I’ve scanned and altered it on the computer so that it is an outline only, ready for colour to be painted on in a layer below the drawing.
I haven’t quite decided on his colours yet …
Janna and I were talking the other day, thinking about Penelope and Eloise. We wondered how they might bring in the New Year, and we concluded that it would most definitely be with style!!!
So, without further ado, we captured the moment … Penelope and Eloise, dancing up a storm, resplendent in their old lady dresses, huge pearl necklaces, and large floral hats. They KNOW they look good, but more importantly, they are having the time of their lives.
We hope 2014 brings many blessings, and much joy to your lives!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What is your favorite snow based activity?
One of my favorite childhood memories is of playing in the backyard at nighttime with my siblings, building snow forts. It was a magical experience. It didn’t matter how much or how little snow there was… we were in a world of our own making, far from the normal of everyday life.
Penelope and Eloise’s world is equally mysterious and beautiful. In their eyes, the house seems to appear far away, but in reality, it is much closer. The stars gleam as if caught up in their adventure….
We hope you had a very Merry Christmas and wish you a wonderful New Year’s Eve!
May you also have many exciting and meaningful adventures!
Now that Eloise is designed, it’s time to see what the dynamics of her friendship with Penelope will look like.
The writing will determine most of that of course, but there are subtleties in body language and activity that will speak volumes. Although it is time to begin serious work on the illustrations for the book, it will always be important to explore these characters more fully. They are as deep and as complex as you and I.
What I most like to keep, in any drawing, is a feeling of energy, or life. Sometimes that quality lies in the line work, other times in the colour, and yet other times, in the texture. Sometimes, it is found in all three. Each drawing needs to satisfy the eyes and the soul in some way.
Penelope and Eloise have been best friends for as long as they can remember …
which is FOREVER!
They share the same sense of bold adventure, curiosity, and mischief.
Eloise, like Penelope, wears a tutu and has a big bow in her hair. But Eloise is also a princess warrior! She carries her bow and arrows around with her wherever she can, because you never know when you might need them….
In order to draw scenes for our book, “Penelope Bloom AND THE NASTY, GHASTLY, DREADFUL SMELL”, I’ve had to envision Penelope in a variety of different settings.
Gradually imagining these places is much more fun than creating them all in a hurry. As such, I’ve spent the past few weeks dreaming up her environment. I am excited to delve into this process further as I create all sorts of places for Penelope and her friends to explore.
This scene is inspired by the many antics of one of my favorite comic strip characters, Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.