I continued to sketch and paint my little guy over the years, in different forms, using different media and I even made some more story notes here and there, but nothing really ever came of any of it. It seemed like my little dragon probably was never going to be anything more than just a good friend that would show up from time to time. Maybe he was meant to be just a quiet, reassuring presence that kept me company as I navigated the ups and downs of children's publishing.
Little Dragon Artiste! - Pencil Sketch
As all artists do from time to time, I started to reevaluate my rendering style, which was mostly acrylic. I was getting bored with it and my guess was that was coming through in my finished pieces as well. I had used Photoshop in the past, to manipulate my sketches and to do some quick color studies, and actually had a lot of fun with it (especially the color studies)! I decided to dabble a little with digital coloring. I needed a quick sketch to play with and guess who showed up again?!
I brought it to the 2013 NJSCBWI conference that year (Great conference but that's for a different blog post!) and at the end of my portfolio review, I pulled out the sketch to show the direction I was considering taking my art. I got really encouraging words from my reviewer and it got me to think about a story again. I went back and roughed out some thumbnail ideas, but it just wouldn't come together for me yet.
|Little Dragon - Very First Digitally Colored Sketch|
The following spring, I signed up for the NJSCBWI conference like I always did, but this time, I impulsively decided to take the leap and sign up for the one on one with an editor. I figured I could use this opportunity to force my writing hand. Submission was in a few weeks so, I had to come up with a story quick. Although this definitely fell into the category of "what the heck was I thinking", I pulled it together and wrote the story...visually. So much for me honing my "writing" skills.
Long and short...I included a few words (very few), got the ok to submit (again, NJSCBWI is awesome!!) and when I showed up for the review, the editor loved the storyboard and the few words that went with it...but felt the character needed a bit more work. There were a couple more versions of the character that I did for that year's Illustrator Intensive and Art show, so I showed her ...
|Little Dragon NJSCBWI Illustrator Intensive - Acrylic/Colored Pencil|
|Little Dragon/ " Down The Shore" NJSCBWI Juried Art Show (Honorable Mention) - Acrylic/Colored Pencil/Digital|
...but the one that was getting the best response, was the little bit of digital play that I did. The editor sent me on my way with the mission of revamping the character and said I could send it whenever I was ready. Great! Now all I had to do was teach myself how to paint digitally!