Still painting watercolor illustrations for “The Story Circle.”

Painting watercolor illustrations is time intensive. I’ve been substitute teaching for the local school system and it seems like the flu is smiting the teachers this month. Last week, I was called in for one teacher and during her free periods, I got asked to cover for 2 other teachers’ classes. After a day like that, I just don’t have enough energy to dive into a painting watercolor illustrations.

I’m working on one of the more imaginative passages this week. A roadrunner and an armadillo racing. I had a lot of fun going hog-wild on the coloring for these beasties. I could have gone realistic in their coloring, but the child is telling a story from his imagination, so I wanted to get some of that whimsy into the image.

Painting a desert. #WIP #childrensbooks #childrensbooksillustration

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As you can see, I start with light shadow area first, then add background details while moving in clumps around the paper. I find this keeps color consistent as well as avoiding the flatness that can happen when painting a premixed color in a focused area of the image. I find this gives the colors a bit of depth and spark of life.

Progress on #WIP desert spread. Almost finished, just 2 animals to go. #childrensbooks #childrensbooksillustration

A video posted by Wendy Martin Art (@wendymartinart) on

I often work in an assembly line when I’m working on a big job like a children’s book such as this one. I find it works best to approach each character individually through the progression of the book. I didn’t do this with my first few books and I had what I would classify as severe character drift. At this point in my career, looking back at those books, I’m almost embarrassed by how much I didn’t know about illustrating sequential art. Much of what I learned the hard way back then is now easily found on the internet. I wish the now me, could travel back in time to the then me, and mentor myself. My books would have been light years better than they were.

painting watercolor illustrations painting watercolor illustrations painting watercolor illustrations

I’m having a lot of fun painting this spread. Could you tell?