Find a Moose With Me!

Find a Moose With Me! is finally a printed, hardcover book! I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate this lovely story back in 2018 and I'm so excited it's out in the world now. I worked on the illustrations for more than a year, and I wanted to take a moment to share some of the process of bringing the story to life.

As a nature lover, this was the perfect project for me. I love painting animals, plants, landscapes and all outdoor things. I love getting outside and observing all the wonders nature has to offer. As I worked on this book I was constantly taking photos on my hikes that I would later use as reference for some of the paintings. This book encourages the reader to take time to look and observe everything they find as they explore nature.

There are many steps leading up to the final paintings in a picture book and I wanted to share my process as I developed the illustrations. The first step is reading the manuscript and thinking about what kind of imagery comes to mind for each page. I then might do a little photo research before creating thumbnail sketches. I'm going to use the beaver spread as my example to show how I started and where I finished.

I love beavers, but I've never seen one in the wild! I wanted to show them doing what they do best and highlight the text "Eight busy beavers use logs to build their dam."

Initial thumbnail sketch

While working on the sketch I thought about text placement, since this is an important part of the composition. The text should have a natural place on the page that doesn't feel as though it's been forced and therefore awkward. I also had to fit in eight beavers! Not as easy as you might think.

Beaver reference photos
Once this initial concept was approved, I delved deeper into reference materials. I needed to find photos that would help me create the composition I had imagined in a realistic way. 

 From there, I printed out a full size spread of the page layout with text in place and created a detailed sketch, which, once approved, I then traced onto watercolor paper to begin the final painting.

In my sketches, I typically stick to mostly line drawings and very little shading and detail, since this is all added in when it's painted in watercolor. When I transfer the sketch to the watercolor paper all I have is light outlines of the main parts of the composition. It's actually somewhat difficult to show how a final watercolor painting might look when doing pencil sketches. 

After transferring the drawing to the paper I work in layers, building up the detail of the painting until the I'm satisfied. Sometimes this means going back later and adding more shadows and additional layers of gouache paint for highlights.

The illustration in print! It's never truly finished until it's printed with text.


In addition to developing the compositions for each page, it was important that our main character, Oscar, be just the right age. Originally the character was called "Baby" in order to be a gender neutral character. However, as I worked on the art and discussed the direction with the author, the character of Baby developed into a toddler boy. 

I created little character sketches for approval and also to use as reference to help create consistency throughout the book. I find drawing and painting people to be incredibly challenging, so I refer back to my character sketch as a guide when I'm trying to make sure he looks the same, even in different positions.

With every illustration project I learn something new and this was no exception. I got to try some new painting techniques, new colors and work on my people-painting skills. It's so satisfying to see these paintings come to life in a book and I am thrilled Find a Moose With Me! is for sale! 

Help support your local bookstore and order a copy here or through Amazon.


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