We Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Nancy Streza and Kayleen West

We Worship God: Nancy Streza & Kayleen West

We Worship God: Exploring the character of God through alphabetical devotion

I am so excited! I can now reveal that I’ll be celebrating my very FIRST United States publication this December – thanks to Xist Publishing. And what a beautiful picture book it is too! I thoroughly enjoyed and fondly illustrated We Worship God. I painted each illustration in watercolour…or should I write watercolor?

We Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Nancy Streza and Kayleen West

We Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. ‘C’ page (comforter)

We Worship God is written by a very talented US author, Nancy Streza. We Worship God is not only an alphabetical story but a poetic dedication of praise – so clever! I can imagine this book will be recited by children. I fell hard for this one-it felt like an extension of Adoptive Father and my heart was immediately invested. Rainbows of love poured from my brush as I personally devoted each illustration to our amazing God.

We Worship God will be released in time for Christmas in eBook and softcover. I will be ordering a limited number of books for my local readers who want copies for Christmas.

I took several studio and work in progress photos so I’ll share more later on the making of the book. Perhaps even a video.

It is so good to finally get to share with you this gorgeous new picture book!

We Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Nancy Streza and Kayleen West

We Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Xist Publishing. December 2015 Publication

Painting Dolls. Mixed media art doll. Fabric surface design.

Painting dolls made a bloody crime scene!

Painting Dolls on school holidays

The kids and I created what looked like a bloody crime scene painting dolls.
I have been so inspired lately playing in so many mediums and creating so many things I can’t stop! I have been designing patterns, participating in #Inktober and #illo52weeks while finishing a picture book off ( almost done).

My children are on school holidays and we had a craft day today. I spilled out an assortment of art and craft supplies and let them loose to do whatever inspired them. Mr 9 had a calico doll to decorate and Miss 13 and Mr 11 had cardboard book boxes.  I joined in with a calico doll and had a great time. At first I thought I had killed the thing – it looked like a crime scene! But then, to my surprise, it came together somehow.

Mr 11 made a decorated sling shot contraption out of the cardboard book box (go figure) which I eventually sent outside for testing – it worked too effectively! And Miss 13 is still working on perfection. My youngest is a little sensitive with art but enjoyed the play for a while, then hit the TV room.

Mixed media art doll. Fabric surface design. Kids activity

Painting Dolls. Mixed media art doll.  Kids holiday activity fun.

Mixed media art doll. Fabric surface design.

Mixed media art doll looking like a crime scene.

You can most likely see by the images above I’m on Instagram now so come and say hi!

Welcome to your new home gift card illustration. Boxes word illustration challenge #illo52weeks

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #21 Boxes

Welcome to your new home gift card illustration. Boxes word illustration challenge #illo52weeks

Welcome to your new home gift card illustration. Boxes – Word illustration challenge #illo52weeks

A “welcome to your new home” gift card illustration – sketch stage. Of course one must unpack teddy first. Her mum has opened the kitchen box for accessing coffee ASAP – I soooo understand that. Caffeine is essential in any house move, several in fact. I shudder at the thought!

My last move was 4 years ago and still a nightmare I remember. The home owner hadn’t moved out when we arrived and left the house in a very dirty state. We had to do a frantic call out for help to half clean the essentials before we moved in. The removalists damaged several things, took cigarette breaks every 5 seconds and left us that night with half of our possessions on our front lawn. Yes we were expecting rain too and NO the removalist wouldn’t repair or compensate for the damage he caused. I won’t be moving again in a hurry.

I am thinking of adding a cat in the kitchen box to magnify the curiosity of the pets. I’ll have only its tail seen, poking up out of the box. Cats get into everything and know no boundaries. What do you think?

Interestingly, an obscure theme like boxes seemed impossible at first but in fact was easy once I began. I avoid painting the subject like a still life. Those days are over. I prefer more story. I also wanted to ensure I did a gift card illustration this time. I need to finish it in watercolour now. I will pop it on my blog when it is done.

The next word challenge is eye. I have already been working on this and it turned out to be an even bigger surprise. I’ll have something very different to show and tell next time; something I use as an activity in schools and hopefully a fun video idea. Stay tuned!

Kids Show and Tell Invitation

Teachers and parents: If you children are inspired by anything I share on my website blog I would love to see what they are creating and celebrate some of those creations. I would love to start an online gallery for kids to show and tell. If you have anything you want to share email me via my contact page. I would love to see!

Final stage in the child's oil portrait tutorial. "A Child's Prayer."

Child’s oil portrait tutorial in 7 steps

Portrait tutorial in seven steps - oil painting.

Portrait tutorial in seven steps – oil painting.

I am in the habit of taking progress photos of my work often and have a lot I could share on my blog. It is time to bring it all out to share inside of hiding away in my computer. This is portrait of a little boy I met in India late 2009. He was so adorable in his new church suit. I appropriately named this painting A Child’s Prayer.

First stage in the child's portrait - blocking in base shapes.

First stage in the child’s portrait – blocking in base shapes.

Stage 1: I began blocking in shapes. I squint to block out details and focus on the big shapes. This also helps when judging tones. Keeping my colours simple I began to create a form. At this stage I am looking for an approximate shape and not accuracy or likeness.

Stage 2 - child's oil portrait tutorial

Stage 2 – child’s oil portrait tutorial

Stage 2: I began to make more accurate strokes on the face and hands. Much time is spent pushing and pulling these features into shape. Portraits are challenging. Never stress over the likeness at the early stage. Simply look closer, at the abstract shapes, judging angles and proportions of each one. The face comes together more easily if seen as parts rather than a whole.

Stage 3 - child's oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 3 – child’s oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 3: I worked the face more. As the face developed I needed to work the background. This ensures I get a nice soft edge and the portrait doesn’t look cut out. In my reference there were people in the background so this one is entirely invented. I used a soft green grey to contrast against the beautiful skin of the little boy.

Stage 4 - child's oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 4 – child’s oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 4: Now it is time to move into the clothing, adding a little more blue and focusing on the folds – not every one of them, only enough to tell the story.

Stage 5 - child's oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 5 – child’s oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 5: I have avoided the hands and feet long enough. Foreshortened body parts are the biggest challenge! It is time to be brave so in I go, again breaking down the shapes so the simplicity paints the impression for me.

Stage 6 - child's oil portrait tutorial - details in the clothing

Stage 6 – child’s oil portrait tutorial – details in the clothing

Stage 6: In this stage I work the whole painting, fine-tuning all over until I am happy with the shapes and tones.

Final stage in the child's oil portrait tutorial. "A Child's Prayer."

Final stage in the child’s oil portrait tutorial. “A Child’s Prayer.”

Stage 7: More colour is added. I work the background again and the clothing until I have the look I am after. In any portrait I work all areas several times until I get the result I am after. Sometimes it comes quickly and sometimes it is pain painstakingly drawn out. This one flowed well. I had a love for the subject and I think it shows – I hope so anyway.
Sorry about the glare from the light on the painting.

Download free oil painting tutorial – A Child’s Prayer

When your wold lacks colour, you can share mine. My inspirational quote and illustration for the them colour.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #20 Colour

This was done in a bit of a hurry while waiting for my husband to finish for the evening. I pulled out my sketchbook after seeing a photo of children playing in a tepee. I was battling to think of something original for the theme colour. The boy in the tend has a bit of a stretched neck but I post my sketches warts and all. The idea is to share my experimental work good and not so good.

When your world lacks colour, you can share mine. My inspirational quote and illustration for the theme colour.

When your world lacks colour, you can share mine. My inspirational quote and illustration for the theme colour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 52 week illustration challenge is still going strong. You can see what others are doing on the Facebook group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418616991575037/

School of fish. Mixed media children's illustration.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #19 Fish

This would have been the most busiest months ever for me, but I am still on board with this personal challenge. I can’t believe we are up to week 19 and I have actually kept up! I feel like waving a superwoman cape at you 🙂

It was time for some mixed media and collage. Why? Because my sketchbook had a few blank pages from Copic markers leaching through the pages. The moleskin book is thick but those inks are pretty powerful.

I re-purposed an older classic, Alice in wonderland, that was sadly falling apart. It wasn’t an antique (I did check) but had those lovely aged-coloured pages in it. My 20 cent purchase from the COM opportunity shop has not only been read by 3 extra children, but will now be recycled into many future mixed media creations. What a life this little book has lived and what a bargain!

I might turn this one into a thank you card for teachers. A profession that is much appreciated in this home.

School of fish. Mixed media children's illustration.

School of fish. Mixed media children’s illustration.

Angels watching over me. #illo52weeks challenge. Illustration in ink and coloured in watercolour and Photoshop.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #18 Celestial Body

Two very different style illustrations from me this week for the 52 week illustration theme challenge: Celestial bodies.

I have been experimenting with pattern in my sketchbook and they have evolved from that. The lower illustration was evolved whilst listening to revelation on my iPad. A rather eventful book in the bible, especially when Michael and his angles fight the devil.

On a very different note, the whimsical reflection of angels going about protecting and praising makes me feel pretty happy when I look at it. I did a big whoopsy though. I drew it with a spelling error – thank goodness for Photoshop! I spelt guardian – gardian!

You will see more pattern form me. I will be launching from this idea for a picture book – fun!

So where does the “gift card” part of the challenge come in? Well, I haven’t deviated too much. In time, I will pull some of the image from the top illustration and use it for that and a surface design project.

Angels watching over me. #illo52weeks challenge. Illustration in ink and coloured in watercolour and Photoshop.

Angels watching over me. #illo52weeks challenge. Illustration in ink and coloured in watercolour and Photoshop.

Celestial Bodies. Michael the angel. #illo52weeks challenge. Illustration Photoshop. Revelation 12:7 Then there was war in heaven. Michale and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels.

Celestial Bodies. Michael the angel. #illo52weeks challenge. Illustration Photoshop.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Donkey Illustration in digital pastel.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Horse

Work in progress. I have been wanting to finish this for ages! I have too many illustrations started that need some time on them. Sorry not exactly a horse but close. The mouse was pulling his tooth with a string but I am going to change it. I am almost there.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Donkey Illustration in digital pastel.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Donkey Illustration in digital pastel.

Bunnies swimming. SCBWI illustrator's portfolio. 52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge

Bunnies for SCBWI Illustrator’s Portfolio.

This week I have been working approximately 16 hours a day and 12 of those hours on a new book. It is difficult to stay super-enthusiastic after a several weeks of working on one project without creative breaks in between. It is counterproductive not to spend time doing other illustration work. It also increased my learning and growth as an illustrator as I experiment and give time to my learning.

Bunnies swimming. SCBWI illustrator's portfolio. 52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge

Bunnies swimming. SCBWI illustrator’s portfolio. 52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge – Final Version

I have been using a weekly challenge to stop any monotony slipping in. Experimental time on the computer is no different to playing in my sketchbook; I mess around with ideas and try out different methods to see what I can produce.

This illustration is one I began for an earlier theme challenge: water.
I need an online image to represent my illustration portfolio for the new SCBWI online illustrators portfolio gallery for the upcoming conference in July. I decided to finish one of my bunny illustrations as it has got such a wonderful response. I guess if other illustrators ooh and arh over them so much, hopefully publishers and art directors will too. I am very fond of the little fellows too I must say.

You may remember the earlier beginnings…

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks water - baby rabbits

My bunnies at an early stage.

So what do you think now?

Better Than A Superhero. Picture book by Belinda Francis and Kayleen West. Wombat Books, Even Before Publishing.

Children’s toys in Better Than A Superhero

This week Belinda Francis and I are celebrating the release of our book Better Than A Superhero. I have to say the the response to this new release has been pretty positive already. This is so encouraging as it is Belinda’s debut picture book. Belinda featured in the Queensland Times news with a rather flattering caption “Belinda is following in Ednid’s steps.” (referring to the author Enid Blyton.) Well I am sure Belinda is quite capable and I was honored to be asked to illustrate Better Than A Superhero. Belinda is also celebrating the birth of a gorgeous new bubby.

Better Than A Superhero. Picture book by Belinda Francis and Kayleen West. Wombat Books, Even Before Publishing.

Better Than A Superhero. New picture book by Belinda Francis and Kayleen West. Even Before Publishing.

When brainstorming the book I wanted to be as original as possible. There are so many book about Jesus even if not about this kind of friendship so I wanted the illustrations to be different. The story is talking to the reader about how awesome Jesus is and how we can have a best friend type relationship with him. Rather than have another religious looking Christian book I decided to make it fun and used the child and his toys as props. The child talks about Jesus using his toys to play-role the story. I hope it brings a smile to many children and helps draw them into a closer relationship with our superhero – Jesus.

Props used in Better Than A Superhero may be found in a child's room. Picture book by Belinda Francis and Kayleen West. Even Before Publishing

Props used in Better Than A Superhero may be found in a child’s room.

Buy picture the book

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1

Simplify Creative Breaks and Downtime.

Is there any such thing? Yes in a strange kind of way – in my world anyway.

I have an unusual style of visual or creative downtime. Usually my downtime results in free creative time. I will be working on a book or attending to business duties and need a break, what do I do? Usually more illustrating or writing – lately illustrating.

The creative challenge I am involved in (#illo52weeks) is really satisfying me artistically. I get to scribble and experiment to my heart’s desire (time restricted) and come up with fresh work for my portfolio (once finished) or blog (work in progress).

I have been flat out working long hours over the past month and have welcomed the latest theme, simplicity. This theme gave me permission to back off the complexity of my illustrations and to my delight resulted in some pretty cute stuff.

This is what I came up with:

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1

All these were done in Adobe Photoshop while listening to a rather helpful audio eBook by Katie Davis. Yes I will have to re-listen as I was somewhat distracted.

My bunny theme from the last 2 weeks:

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #2

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #2

This one was at the end of today using a sketch from my sketchbook doodles. I thought I would try a little more texture in the background.

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #3

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #3

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks architecture - Candy Land

Illustration Challenge Catchup – architecture, numbers and water

3 weeks of Illustration Catch up

Topics: architecture, numbers and water. These are the beginnings of some illustrations in progress. I think my little rabbits below may appear in future challenges also. I am very fond of these little guys.

All 3 illustrations are works in progress and painted digitally after initially drawing them in my sketchbook with a 2B pencil. Candyland was painted on my iPad and the others in Photoshop. I hope to finish them once my next book is finished, in-between working on the following.

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks architecture - Candy Land

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks Week 11- architecture – Candy Land

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks numbers - baby rabbits

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks Week 12 – numbers

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks water - baby rabbits

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks Week 13 – water

You can see the finished illustration for water here: http://kayleenwest.com.au/portfolio/bunnies-for-scbwi-illustrators-portfolio/