My Secret Garden Process
Spoiler alert: It's not really a secret. And it's not about gardening.
I'd rather draw 100 dogs than one flower. But at the time of year when everything’s blossoming and buzzing, I feel ALIVE. I want to go places and draw everything. I felt that energy while reading The Secret Garden in January, and I knew that’s what I needed to draw.
I can appreciate that there’s a special kind of magic to locking oneself indoors and drawing all day during a downpour or freezing temperatures. But the aliveness of Spring brings a special hope and optimism to life that no other season can.
I started with character sketches. I sat on the couch with a coffee, cheap printer paper, and no expectations or pressure. Within 15 minutes, I was pleased with the kids below.
I asked my lovely spouse, who’s never read the book, to tell me about the characters’ personalities based on my sketch. When he summed them up perfectly, I knew I was on the right track.
Ask a friend or family member on your who isn’t familiar with your characters to tell you about their personalities.
The background was a bit more tricky for me. I don’t hang out in a lot of gardens, much less draw flowers. I see people buying them at Trader Joe’s and wonder what they’re going to do with all those flowers. So I really struggled to make this thing come together without being painfully bright or too drab and dull.
I painted 5 or 6 backgrounds in gouache and acryla gouache, then made some edits and fun discoveries digitally. I go into more detail in the video below and have documented the whole thing on Patreon, which you can try out for free here.
Or watch here on Substack, as well as join drawing sessions and access replays and other bonus behind-the-scenes content I’ve been adding.
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In other news:
- I’m retiring my most-used material and mixing a new paint palette
- An exercise where I let color influence an illustration
- I’ll share new way I loosen up while drawing on location
- Waterbrush review video (this one is overdue, but I've used them a bit more now and have a better understand of what I like or dislike about each one.)
- Stealing some color palettes from birds I met at the zoo and making art with them.
- A list of my favorite webcams and livestreams to draw from when stuck at home.
Thanks for reading and have fun at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, if you’re going!