About 9 years ago, as my kids got older and I was making a career change, I found I could squeak out small blocks of time that I could call "my own". Everything seemed to be coming together for me to finally pursue my dream of creating art for children's books. First order of business would be to create a portfolio!
In that first grouping of kid-lit illustrations, there was this little duck, dressed in a dragon costume, leaning over a ginormous egg. Each time I showed the portfolio, the reviewer would pause over this one piece and always ask if there was a story to go with it. Sadly, at that point in my career, there wasn't.
|Original Dragon Duck - Markers/Colored Pencil|
That first year, after attending a portfolio day at the Society of Illustrators, an agent contacted me about creating a story for that character. I was super excited about being approached and really did give it an honest shot, but I just couldn't seem to come up with anything I was happy with.
A month or two after that experience, I decided to submit to a conference at Rutgers and wanted to do a new piece to send. I was still trying to find my visual voice, so I experimented with pastel pencils and although he looked a bit different, that curious little duck in a dragon suit showed up again! I received the same response to this new dragon-ish character at that conference, as I did at the other reviews. There was definitely something about him that I needed to explore further.
As I continued on my illustrative journey in kid-lit, different versions of my little character (which was now completely a dragon) would always seem to pop up in my work. Sometimes as just a sketch...
|Assorted little dragon sketches - Pencil|
sometimes a finished piece...
|Little Dragon with Colored Pencils - Acrylic/colored pencil|
|Little Dragon sculpture - Air Dry Clay|
It began to feel like he was desperately trying to tell me something, but I just couldn't figure out what it was.
(to be continued...)