Hanging around

It's a lazy sort of Saturday, perfect for just hanging around. Hope everyone is enjoying the lovely weather!

Teeny Color Studies

Hey there blog readers, I did a guest post this week over at the Kidlit Artist blog. Since it's an art tip post, I figured I'd share it here too.

One of my favorite parts of the illustration process is the color study.

I used to forego painted color studies, instead relying solely on a digitally rendered study. However, I've found tiny painted studies to be helpful tools before I begin working on a final painting.

While some artists do larger, more detailed studies. I prefer to work tiny to problem solve at this stage. I liken it to doing thumbnails when laying out a preliminary book dummy. (For each study shared below, I've included the full-sized measurements.) Not only does it save paper, but these tiny studies are quick. They allow me to do several potential versions in a short amount of time.

My studies are often quite messy, but I do attempt to be somewhat organized and lay out a test strip of the colors that I'm considering for the piece.

I usually lay out a basic thumbnail of the larger painting and block in the major colors. On the same strip of paper, I will also test different combinations of paint to figure out what works best for the particular piece in question.


When I'm being really organized and taking my time, I label each layer and how it was made.

(paper is roughly 6x5.325", each thumbnail is about 2x1.5")

These studies, though tiny, can still be extremely detailed.


Color studies are invaluable. They can be used to test every part of your painting but on a quick, small, and easy scale.

They can serve as tests for background effects,


for testing details, like patterns and plaids,


or they help answer larger questions, like overall palette.

(paper is 5x4", each thumbnail is roughly 2x1.25")

If your process involves paint, I would urge you to try these quick tiny studies. I hope you find them useful!

Black and White

My husband and I moved two weeks ago, and though we unpacked a fair amount, our new apartment is still filled with a sea of boxes. The studio, alas, is no exception. While I search for proper furniture for the space and new places for my paints and brushes (we lost a significant amount of shelving space when we moved), I've been playing with basic supplies and black and white.

There have been a few middle grade characters floating around in my head of late, so I used the moving-chaos and the characters as an excuse to do a few small experiments in black and white using only pencil and watercolor graphite. Here are two of them:

School Visit

This week I'm doing my first school visit for A Penguin Named Patience at my old elementary school. I've been prepping a presentation for the kids with loads of pictures and drawings of the book as well as  work I did when I was at Lakeville elementary.

This week, my folks unearthed a few choice pieces for the presentation, including my 1st or 2nd grade (alas not dated) school photo:

And a cat that I drew c. 1989/1990

That cat...

::shakes head::

I may as well throw in the towel. That is the best cat I have ever drawn and will ever draw.

A Penguin Named Patience - Final Sketches and Final Art

Moving on to more finished work...

After all of the rough thumbnail sketches have been approved, I tighten and revise and do final sketches of the entire book.

 And finally, after the Art Director has approved this round of sketches, I begin painting.


 And just for fun... 

And because you've been so patient, here's another...

Thanks for following along! Stay tuned for more regular updates and art.

A Penguin Named Patience - Thumbnails and Scribbly Penguins

Continuing where we left off...

Once I had my penguin drawings down, I began doodling in the margins of the manuscript of spots and images I thought I might want to feature in the story. Those doodles turned into pages and pages of really rough, scribbly sketches.

Scribbly dancing penguins...
Scribbly marching penguins...

All kinds of scribbly penguins...

I took all of those scribbly penguins and began laying them out until I had a sketchy idea for every page in the book.

Throughout this process, there's a lot of back-and-forth with the Art Director, determining what scenes best illustrate the text and tell the story. The rough sketches shift and change until we have a full set of  sketches for the entire book.

Stay tuned... next up on the blog: final sketches and final art.

For more info about the book, check out some of these reviews. We've been really lucky to have the book featured on a number of different blogs and websites, including Kirkus, Miss Marple's Musings, The Simple Moms, The Bookworm's local paper reviews, the National Book Examiner. My personal favorite is this synopsis by a 5 yr old in the San Francisco Book Review.

And don't forget! I'll be speaking about A Penguin Named Patience on Saturday, May 16th at Books of Wonder.

A Penguin Named Patience

Hi all,

It's been a busy 2015, and I took a brief hiatus from blogging. But I'm back and with process posts and art and an event coming up mid-May!

First, and most importantly, mark your calendars! A Penguin Named Patience is out in and about in the world, and on Saturday, May 16th, I'm going to be at Books of Wonder in NY doing a panel with Bob Shea and Greg Pizzoli!

I'm definitely geeking out and doing a bunch of ridiculous penguin-dancing. My first book panel is with two crazy talented illustrators! (More exclamation points needed!!!!)

In honor of the upcoming panel, I thought I'd share a little of my process work for the book over the next week in a series of posts.

After Sleeping Bear sent the manuscript, the first thing I did was grab a pencil. Those three little penguins are some of the very first sketches I ever did of Patience. They weren't the only ones, though. For a few days, all I did was draw penguins...

Paint penguins...
Look at pictures of penguins...

And watch videos of penguins.  The aquarium in New Orleans where the story takes place actually has a series of videos of the penguins featured in the book.

Stay tuned... next up on the blog: thumbnails and scribbly penguins.

For more info about me and Suzanne Lewis and of course the book, check out these two interviews that Suzanne and I did for the KidLit 411 blog. Links to the interviews can be found here (KidLit411-Lisa) and here (KidLit411-Suzanne).

And for more sketches, process work, and cat photos, you can also find me on:
Instagram: @Lisa.Anchin
Twitter: @LisaAnchin