HaPPy biRtH daY, Dance Y'all Dance

Dance Y'all Dance is born!  The picture book officially hits the shelves today, November 1, 2009.  It was quite a labor and delivery, fun actually...now how many women can say that!  Written by Kelly Bennett and published by Bright Sky Press (see link below), it's a story of one night at a country dance hall where family and friends pack away their worries and dance into the night.  The story is loaded with characters young and old--Grandpappy Skittle who plays musical "spoons" on stage, the mischievious Harlin and Beau taunting girls, and Buck the Dog who tries its best to get into the mix.

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Toward the end, the focus switches to Sallie and Jem who just got married, engaged in dance.  I knew I wanted to convey a quiet moment between these two, oblivious to the gaiety of their surroundings, so I used an old photograph as inspiration. Changing costumes and faces, I concentrated on that kiss to the cheek and the sparkle in her eye.  It's one of my favorite illustrations in the book...one I hope will resonate with viewers.

As with the illustration of the newlyweds, I hope readers see something of themselves in the book--their own family celebrations through music and dance--and how, often, we are more alike than different.

Family, after all, can be seen in a tree-or-forest kind of way.  Dance Y’all, Dance!

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Link: http://www.brightskypress.com/infostore/ca.cart.asp?sAction=DisplayDetails&pid=155&id=227</a>

Currently working on:  Music and dance, again!  Art for a children’s cd called “Boogie Villa.”

dance STEP-by-STEP

Here’s sneak peek into the making of Dance Y’all Dance, a picture book written by Kelly Bennett that I illustrated and is being released this November (Bright Sky Press).  It was the most fun project I’ve ever worked on.  The story is set in the not too distant past when families, farm hands and cowboys & gals would get together on weekends at the local honky tonk.  I did some research into clothing styles, period furniture, Texas symbols and olde timey dance halls, then chose to keep the colors vivid and saturated to give the book a contemporary look.

Once I had the scene sketched, I redrew it on Strathmore 10-ply paper with a Berol Prismacolor pencil...then laid a wash of ultramarine & yellow ochre. With a wet q-tip or small brush, I began to pick out highlights.

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Later, using the new tones as a guide, I start to lay in color with gouache, working from dark to light. What interests me now is the design of shadows, losing and finding edges and letting a little of the wash show through as line.  I make an effort to NOT have perfectly symmetrical faces as I believe it lends to more effective expressions. 

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I continue building layers of paint to emphasize form, adding texture, patterns, detail and highlights.  Finally scanning into photoshop, I clean and fine tune the piece.

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So there you have it.  I love playing with color.  I love visiting my works-in-progress (aka “children”) every morning.  I love this job!

Working on:  another country-themed book offering, but that’s all I’m gonna say right now!  In the meantime, here is an interview I did on the author’s website, if’n you’re interested: http://www.kellybennett.com/books/danceyall.html