Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Halloween Haunting by Patricia Keeler

I'm not haunted by ghosts, or scared of spiders or the dark. 
But one thing keeps me up at night in fear . . .
                                                                                                                                            © Patricia Keeler
 no, not rabbits!  it's beginning the illustrations for a new picture book. 
All that white. 
All those empty pages. 
All the UNdrawn.

© J Byron Schachner

At Eastern PA SCBWI, I heard a great presentation by J Byron Schachner—Judy to her friends. (She's one of those people who is so friendly that you think you are 'instantly' her friend.) So going on that assumption, Judy has a method for climbing into those scary white pages. It's a Character Bible.

In one of Judy's Character Bibles the pants came first. Judy found a picture of pants drying on a clothes line. She thought it was a great shot of pants. Maybe put a raccoon in them? Hello, Dewey Bob! Later, she found a photograph of a raccoon in a pair of pants.

Permission given by J Byron Schachner to publish images from her Character Bible on Drawn To Picture Books.
© J Byron Schachner
 Judy can spend a year or more creating a Character Bible before beginning to write and illustrate.  

I'm developing a story about a Halloween witch, and am creating my own Halloween Character Bible. I'm learning;

1. By collecting images of witches and cats, I'm finding what feet, noses, hats, etc., I like, and those that don't work for me.

2. I can sketch my characters in various guises, not worrying about the final look of the characters yet. Here they can grow and develop.

Building my Halloween Witch Character Bible         © Patricia Keeler
3. There are the common Halloween images like bats and spiders, but I'm finding pictures of objects I hadn't thought of, like brown moths and pumpkins wrapped in black lace.

4. While looking for witches and cats in shops, magazines, and online, I'm discovering new Halloween fonts and graphics.

5. I'm discovering new Halloween colors. Who knew pea green would be a scary color?

6. And surprising locations. The circus definitely works for Halloween images! Eeek!

© Patricia Keeler
Making a Halloween Character Bible feels like preparing the earth for planting. No wonder it is so hard for me to get anything growing. I've had little to grow new images from.

Here's my first sketch of a Halloween witch
 and I don't even have a headache!

Thank-you Judy for your enchanting stories, shiny characters, and kaleidoscopic art.
And for showing me a way in!

Judy Schacher signing DEWEY BOB, Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
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represented by Liza Royce Agency