But no recipes…hmmm

Here‘s a nice mention of Jack and the Giant Barbecue in a lineup of barbecue books for kids.

Jacket art

Here’s the sketch, final painting and lettering for the front jacket of Jack and the Giant Barbecue.


Jack climbs Mount Pecos

Here’s the final painting from my last post—Jack climbs Mount Pecos in Jack and the Giant Barbecue.

Masking fluid

Masking fluid (or liquid frisket) is a pretty handy item to have around. Many of the scenes in Jack and the Giant Barbecue have characters in front of the big, wild & woolly American West. I like to spread out and paint that kind of backdrop with equally wild brush strokes. That’s a whole lot easier if you don’t have to carefully paint around the characters.

Masking fluid is kind of a rubbery syrup that you paint on your paper wherever you don’t want watercolor. It dries to a water-repellant film. As you see in the pictures, I masked out Jack and his faithful pony (also using bits of masking tape) so I could slather on the paint with abandon.When I finished painting the background, I peeled away the mask using a rubber cement pickup.


With trumpets a-tooting

Another night-time party scene from Let’s Have A Tree Party! A thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, the painting in progress and the final illustration. My former student Julia Kapp assisted with blocking in the big areas of color for this book. As anyone who has worked with gouache can tell you, laying down a perfect velvety blue sky isn’t so easy.

This image and the paintings from the previous 2 posts will be part of the ArtisTree exhibit in the Graffiti Gallery—that’s in Oil City, Pennsylvania. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day tomorrow, so come on over for the Transit artists’ Open Studios (noon – 5:00) and stay for the gallery reception (4:00 – 7:00).


Here’s a night-time scene from Let’s Have A Tree Party! The sun’s gone down and the animals say ‘hi’ to the moon.

Thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, some shots of the painting in progress and the final illustration.

To the tree!

Here’s the copyright/dedication spread for Let’s Have A Tree Party! from Candlewick Press. It’s the first big image you see, so this is the establishing shot. It tells you where the story takes place.

Jack’s daddy’s recipe book

Unlike the original Jack and the Beanstalk where Jack is a thief, in Jack and the Giant Barbecue the Giant stole Jack’s daddy’s recipe book long ago. Jack beards the Giant in his barbecue shack so he can get it back.

Here are thumbnails and tight sketches as art director Anahid Hamparian and I worked out how to show the flashback of the Giant stealing the recipe book. I originally painted the final in black & white to make it look flashbacky. Since there is only one flashback in the story it kind of stuck out, so I painted a new one in color.

Nini in the news

A nice review and a mention of Mary Nethery‘s Famous Nini.

The jukebox with a broken heart

In the great old mediæval fairytale, Jack & the Beanstalk, Jack steals a golden harp from the giant’s castle. Eric Kimmel‘s update, Jack and the Giant Barbecue, sets the action in west Texas and replaces the harp with a jukebox.

I have to admit she’s my favorite character in the story. This poor, neglected jukebox doesn’t have a name but Eric wrote some winning country western honky-tonk dialogue for her. She bravely offers to help Jack get his daddy’s recipe book back from the giant who cast her aside. It’s hard not to fall in love with her.

I had to design a character who would live up to all that. She had to be a Wurlitzer jukebox—colored lights and tubes to let her shine in the murk of the giant’s barbecue shack. What about eyes, mouth? At first I put 2 eyes on top of the jukebox but no good—it would be hard to make them expressive. One photo I found has a 45 rpm vinyl record centered in the arch of the incandescent tubes. I thought, maybe she could have one big eye? Her mouth would be the coin slot.