Springtime means it's time for another postcard mailing by my agents at The Cat Agency! After a visit with several publishing houses last year, Christy Tugeau Ewers came back inspired to having a postcard mailing themed "Time Period." This would give her artists a way to explore different story lines from the the past.
I was very exited for this mailing from the moment she told us about it. As a realistic artist, time period art is right down my alley. My earliest venture with this genre was with the American Girl books I illustrated of the dolls Marie-Grace and Cecile in the 1850's New Orleans. But it's been a while since I've played with period pieces.
At first, I was overwhelmed with ideas. I thought about exploring some famous strong women in history, such as Joan of Arc, or maybe some ancient Greek paintings inspired by one of my favorite artists, Sir Alma Tadema. But then, my winter was taken over by an educational project that involved illustrating dinosaurs. After spending two months having a blast painting dinosaurs, when I finally sat down to work on this postcard piece, I couldn't concentrate on any of my previous ideas. All I wanted to do was paint more dinosaurs. So I decided to embrace the inspiration and paint more dinosaurs!
Studies and Thumbnails
I knew right away that I wanted to show a loving scene between dinosaurs. I thought a mother and baby Triceratops would be a great couple to use as my subject. I began my process with research. This meant researching dinosaurs: reading books (apparently I already had a decent collection of dinosaur books accumulating from over the years), watching movies, and studying dinosaur bones and other artwork. I also looked at rhinos and how they interact with each other.
After various studies and thumbnails, I ended with this idea of them nuzzling with each other.
Left: My first "final" digital thumbnail for Baby Mine. Right: After looking back at my studies, I realized I really liked how both the mother and baby looked from an above view, so I decided to do one final revision and rotate the camera to have us looking down through the trees.
Sketch and Color Study
After finalizing my composition, I gathered my references and did a full value digital sketch of my painting then digitally colored it as a color study for my painting. This allowed me to work out all the details before I ever picked up my paintbrush.
For the back of the postcard, I just wanted to do simple black and white spot illustration to really show the deep affection between the two.
Dinosaurs were never a subject I thought I would enjoy painting, but there's something so fascinating about these creatures that we know existed, but nobody knows what they actually look like. There's a sense of freedom I feel while painting them, and I'm able to really enjoy the exploration.
Color-wise, I wanted to try out a simpler palette for this piece and focus more on lighting. I knew I had a lot of artistic freedom to play with the colors of the dinosaurs, but I decided to leave the background colorful and have my dinosaurs appear more camouflaged in their environment.
Then I scanned the finish paintings, laid out the designs in Illustrator, and ordered my postcards from Vistaprint. Off they went to Christy who will send them on with the greatest of care!