Our True Colours

Dec 6, 2023 | Colour, Picture Book Development

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to work on the book again until after I’m finished the Picture Book Course—but I changed my mind. I was sad yesterday, so I started choosing a colour palette to cheer myself up.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to our find our 20-year-old cat on the floor. He couldn’t move. The poor thing must have had a stroke or something over night. Max was a little black cat that always acted more like a puppy than a cat, and loved to cuddle.

Needless to say, the next few days were tough. He slept most of the time while my husband and I took turns holding him around the clock. We slept in three hour shifts at night so someone was always there if he needed anything … he held on until Tuesday afternoon before passing away peacefully in Rob’s arms.

Maximillion Black Shaw 2003-2023
Rest in Peace, Monkey

Paint and Be Happy

To cheer myself up after our sad goodbye, I decided to start working on a colour palette for the book. They say that happy, bright colours can increase your mental activity and leave you feeling rejuvenated and energized. There’s also something about the tactile, organic feel of watercolour paint that brings me joy – especially when I’m using paint stones from Beam Paints.

Beam Paints are made by harvesting hematite pigment in the LaCloche mountain range near their home in M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island. Lightfast pigments, tree sap, gum arabic and Manitoulin honey blend together to create a handmade  saturated colour that is a joy to paint with.

Their watercolours are shaped into paintstones, their version of a half-pan, before being wrapped in beeswaxed canvas and are packaged in slices of cedar and birch offcuts from an Indigenous sustainable lumber operation.

Perhaps because I’ve been a graphic designer for over 20 years, working on the computer most of the time, I’ve really been craving ‘real things’ lately. I took a ceramics class, started growing a dahlia cutting garden (with help from my Mom) and took up ink and watercolour painting to help satisfy that craving and offset the time spent in front of screens.

Choosing a Palette

I’m planning to work with a smaller palette to create visual consistency and harmony throughout the book but wanted to start with a broader selection before I start narrowing it down.

Since I already have quite a few paints stones to work with, I started swatching out some of the colours I’m interested in including. Then, I went onto the Beam website to order some more because, let’s face it: I love paint and will jump on any excuse to order some more!

With my order for a new enamelware mixing tray (again, I loved the tactile feel when using it at a watercolour workshop last month) along with silver, amethyst, rainforest, pumpkin and mars violet paint stones on the way, I think I’m off to a good start.

My current vision is a fairly monochromatic look with some fun pops of colour to add whimsy and visual interest. Our main character is an old english sheepdog who is white and grey, with the secondary character being a squirrel. We have black, grey and red squirrels in our neighbourhood so I thought of making the squirrels a variety of colours but I’m currently leaning towards making them all grey for visual appeal. That way, I can focus on varying their shapes, sizes and facial features to individualize them in the illustrations.

I feel like the colour of grey I use for the characters is going to be really important, so I think I’ll sketch out a few versions of Bella that I can test in grey ultra, graphite and silver along with a combo for extra complexity and texture. Maybe I could add in some sky blue to make it pop. We’ll see.

Sketchbook

Here’s a peek at a couple of the sketches I did this week. As you can see, it’s the beginning of December so a festive theme is emerging! I’m looking forward to touring Casa Loma in Toronto with my husband tomorrow. It is fully decorated for Christmas, so I’m sure there will be lots of inspiration to be found and magic to be felt!

A Festive Musical Performance by The Anyway Gang
Menno Versteeg (Hollerado), Dave Monks (Tokyo Police Club), Chris Murphy (Sloan), and Sam Roberts (Sam Roberts Band)
Choosing a Colour Palette for a Children's Picture Book

Recent Posts

Julie Bateman

Hi there! I've been a self employed graphic designer, working from a home office in Barrie, Ontario Canada since 2003.

In the summer of 2022, I decided to start an ink & watercolour travel journal to document an upcoming road trip from Ontario to Prince Edward Island with Rob, my husband, and Bella our Old English Sheepdog.

From there, I fell in love with drawing, painting and documenting my world in sketchbooks. That learning process inspired me to follow the dream of writing and illustrating a picture book for children.

That's where this blog begins.

If you're interested in collaborating or hiring me for freelance projects, please email me at julie@batemandesigngroup.com

 

Recent Posts

Bella Learned to Paint!

Bella Learned to Paint!

Last weekend, the brave folks at the Huronia Museum in Midland, Ontario hosted their first dog friendly workshop. Combining the Indigenous storytelling experience with a collaborative painting class, this workshop was a fundraiser for the museum and Ontario SPCA...

Professional Development Days

Professional Development Days

Last year, along with writing and illustrating my first picture book, I added schedule quarterly professional development days to my list of intentions. As a self employed graphic designer, my days often get filled with client projects, so it felt important to make...

Creating the Final Artwork

Creating the Final Artwork

So, here we are—working on the final artwork during this cold, snowy week in January. I've 'finished' the first spread and have started working on the second. I love this part of the process! Although many illustrators seem to prefer working digitally using software...

Making a Dummy Book

Making a Dummy Book

This week was a lot of fun! We learned a lot about the importance of making dummy copies of our books to test out the format, page turns, pacing, etc. To make mine, I scanned in the thumbnails that I made last week, enlarged them a little, added text in InDesign, then...

Thumbnails

Thumbnails

The Picture Book Course was back this week, after three weeks off for Christmas. Although I enjoyed the downtime over the holidays, it felt great to be back at it! As I mentioned before, I had a story idea in mind when I started this course, but I took the...

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a behavioural health phenomenon described as self-doubt of intellect, skills, or accomplishments among high-achieving individuals. Now, I wouldn't say that applies to me exactly but last week when the other students in the private Facebook group...

Picture Book Course

Picture Book Course

Eek! Here we go!  In September, I celebrated 20 years of being a self employed graphic designer. Perhaps because of that milestone, one of the goals I set for myself this year was new: to write and illustrate a picture book inspired by my old English sheepdog...

Character Development

Character Development

I finished the first draft of my manuscript this afternoon! Wow, does it feel great to be able to say that! My production schedule has been very full with graphic design projects lately. In between juggling three larger, long term projects with the day-to-day website...

Stay in touch!

Please join our email list if you’re interested in watching my journey to becoming a published picture book author and illustrator progress. If you’re a Kid Lit Agent or Publisher, or if you’re interested in a collaboration, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to email me at julie@batemandesigngroup.com if you have a direct inquiry.

Join Our Mailing List

2 + 11 =