Every now and then, I’m asked to use my artist skills to help groups with projects that need a little help.
This month, I began working with the VSA Adult Art Class that meets at the Miss. Art Center near the Miss. Art Museum in Jackson.
The VSA (Very Special Artists) works with Special Needs adults in a creative and supportive environment. To see these wonderful artists work is really inspiring! Tom Harmon is the Executive Director of VSA Mississippi and the teacher of the class.
Mary Kitchens, President of Mississippi’s Toughest Kids wrote a children’s picture book about a bear wanting to decorate a Christmas tree in the woods. She asked Tom if the Adult Art Class would be able to illustrate it. Tom and I have worked together training teachers with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) art integration process. He called me in to project manage the effort.
Since we wanted a consistent style in the illustrations, we assigned each artist a particular character: bear, rabbit, squirrel, etc. They worked through several character sheets and rendered their characters in various expressions and poses depending on the need of the text.
The studio mascot, Chris, got into the act as well. He was a wonderfull and amicable model for all the illustrators to see how animal bodies are very different from human bodies. Legs and arms act differently on dogs than they do on people. All part of the lesson of observation, a vital part of being an artist.
Once the characters were finished, I hi-resolution scanned them and created clip-paths around them in Photoshop. The “cut out” images were then imported onto a background image to create each double-page spread.
With all the spreads and cover put together, the digital PDFs were uploaded to the printer’s server.
And that’s how it’s done with a dozen artists working on the same book!
The finished book mechanical should be sent to the printer by late August or early September.