Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Illustrating Pippity Trimble

      The winter months are my "free time" to accomplish new ARTWORK and I am working on my new set of books. Since building  Trimble Manor, (a very important element for these books) I  now dive into illustration.

. Anyone creating a  book has their own way of doing things and I thought to show you my method of book creation.
        I begin with A STORY, naturally. But you'd be amazed at how often I am asked " DO you write the story first or do the artwork?" I am perplexed by this question, because, how do I know what to illustrate until I have a story??!!

In  this case, I have 3 stories, hence, 3 books. I have always made large books in the past, 12"x12". It requires so much time to do a 36 page book at that size, I feel overwhelmed at times. This is why I decided to create a set of small books, in the interim, at 24 pages and half the size. That doesn't mean I won't continue with larger books, I will, but they only come out every 2-3 years
  I must separate the text of my story into 24 pages, leaving enough room for the artwork, of course. When I am writing a story, I can SEE it come alive in my mind. I can imagine the illustrations for each page as I write;  my characters appearance, the landscape, the surroundings, all of it, I often have a clear vision of how things will look.  I  write notes to myself in the margins of the story as a reminder of things I wish to add to a picture.

I don't make thumbnail sketches as many illustrator do, I go directly to my watercolor paper and begin a serious detailed drawing. I confess, that I erase a lot! If I do need a small sketch to work out a facial expression, or bodies position, I have a border along the side of my page that is convenient for such a purpose.

 I'm doing the original artwork on 8"x8" paper to accommodate all the details I wish to include, but will reduce the book size at another stage of production.
Of all the artwork I do, drawing in pencil will always be my favorite medium. I use a 140Lb cold press watercolor paper and draw directly upon it with a hard lead mechanical pencil. The pencil lead will not smear when I paint atop it.

Sometimes, the completed artwork is very close to what I imagined and sometimes it takes a turn, and becomes something more interesting...much to my surprise.
An example is the little wicker bench in the foreground which was an afterthought. It makes an appearance in several of the drawings now and will be helpful in telling the story along the way.

I take many photographs of the drawings as they progress from one stage to another; I like to keep a record of how the picture has changed along the way.
In this story, there are two characters. PIPPITY is the main character, and
            a Preying Mantis, is the other.

  I 've collected dozens of images of mice and preying mantis; photographs and paintings and illustrations. I will often refer to these to capture the proper stance or expression on a face.
With the tilt of the head, shape of the eyes and position of hands and feet, you can guess what  a little mouse may be thinking....

Or what is going on in the mind of a Preying Mantis.....

 Some drawings will take longer than others, especially if I have dozens and dozens of trifles to add to a picture.
 This page is FULL of Trifles... but you know how much I love those Trifles.
The images I've shown you are just a few of those completed. 
I'm pleased with how quickly these drawings are coming along... I will  be painting them by the end of the month.
 You may remember the garden book I was working on last summer? The garden book goes hand in hand with these mouse stories. I hope to publish them at the same time.

See here!

So, back to my drawing board and sending you a virtual Valentine in the form of these marvelous, jaunty Jonquils pulled from our meadow.... In February!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Looking for some lovely feathered friends for your farm? AND> The renewal of Poor Ugly Peggy

  Do you remember poor ugly Peggy from last summer?
She has recuperated over the winter months  to a wonderful degree, see here!

She has many admirers. They all treat her like a lady. They follow her around all day as if she were Her Majesty the Queen.

Unfortunately, in a few weeks they may realize that they are BOYS and act according to ROOSTER RULES, which are not so noble. At that point Peggy will be in trouble, with so many suitors.

 As much as I hate to do this,  it is sometimes necessary  to thin the herd around here.  When my lovely little lavender chicks arrived last spring, I hardly expected 6 out of 9 of them to become roosters.
You just can't have that many roosters with so few hens. I would love to find good homes for some of these boys. I prefer they go in pairs, as they will be friends. If you have hens now, you would only want one rooster; but if you love chickens as beautiful, living garden ornaments, pets, and an amusing addition to your farm, roosters are great.
These are free-range, but they need a shelter at night. They will roost in your barn or any little shed you provide for them.
 They are stunning birds, probably one of the most beautiful breeds I've seen. Though called Lavender Americauna, I think they look more like a silvery grey. Their combs are vibrant red and they have the fattest feathered faces.
Would you like to welcome a few of these boys to your place?

India Blue Peacocks
I was also very  surprised when I realized that  the baby peas turned out to be MALES;  all four of them! For months I thought they were all girls.   You know I would keep them all, except for the fact that I've only one female, their mommy, and she would be overcome with TOO much attention as the boys grow to adulthood......if you know what I mean.
The mother is Hettie Pepper (she is seen above, solid grey wing feathers)  and the father is Mr. Peabody, Moses for short.
 This is Moses and his magnificent tail from last summer. WHAT A DANDY!
Just want you to know my youngsters come from excellent parents.
They are practicing the "FAN and STRUT", above.
 The young males have the patterned feathers. They will soon begin to exhibit coloring changes on the shoulders and back and then their tails will start to grow into the stunning fan Peas are known for.

 I want to find homes for two or three of the young boys. I prefer they go together as brothers because birds need a friend.
 Peacocks are incredibly intelligent, and mine are quite tame, eating out of my hand and running to me whenever I shake the corn can. My birds are free range and aside from the feed I provide, they really take care of themselves eating seeds, insects, and even snakes. They sleep in the trees but do not like the rain, and therefore must have a covered shelter in case they want to retreat.
As someone who loves my animals and has watched all of them grow from babies, I want them to go to good homes. This is a invitation to an animal lover who would like to give my boys a new home.
I'm in no hurry, but would like to find them new homes in the Spring.
If you have any questions, just email me here: jeri@jerilanders.com
  I should mention we live in Northeastern Tennessee. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Introducing the mouse of the manor...

  You've been kind enough to follow along with the creation of 
Now it's about time you meet the little lady who lives here...
she is much more humble looking than you would expect her to be.
She has no lady's maid, nor cook, footman or gardener, as one would expect of someone  living in such a stately home;
Pippity does all her own cooking,canning, ironing,stitching, spinning and yardwork.

For she lives alone in this large old house... and keeps it tidy as a pin.

She would love to show you the rooms in the house, just as soon as she does all her decorating. It may take some time.
Because, for a while, Miss Trimble will be posing for me 
as I draw and paint her image in my new book.
As soon as I finish drawing Trimble Manor above,
Pipp will don her checkered apron and grab her little broom, for her next picture.
Pippity is pleased to meet you!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thatching a roof

 I have something of an obsession with thatched roofs....
In fact, it is such an obsession, that when it came time to re-roof our own house, I actually tried to find a Thatcher, which isn't easy here in America. When I learned that our house insurance would be sky-high if I were to be so bold as thatch the roof, I looked into artificial thatch panels.. The prices on the artificial thatch were sky high too. No thatch roof for my real house.
It hasn't stopped me from creating thatched roofs in my books however.
And what better roofing to use on Trimble Manor?
So it looks like I will have my thatched roof after all
This is nearly the last step on the outside of Trimble Manor: thatching the top roof.
  I used something called Coconut fiber, which came in thick bunches.
 I had to separate the fibers into small batches,

and using a caulk, row by row, I've lain down the thatch.  
It is very time consuming. This roof has taken me 5 days so far.

 It's not as if you just lay the batch on top of the roof, I am simplifying that. You really have to work the caulking into the fibers to prevent them from shedding. Then you work, work, work  it onto the surface of the roof. I used my 6 inch metal ruler as my tool. I don't think I've ever used that ruler so much in my life!

As each section is laid, it is trimmed and I attempt to create more a uniform "carpet" of thatch. This part is  not easy to accomplish. I honestly don't know how they get that smooth look on REAL thatched roofs. It is amazing. What do you call a professional Thatcher?
  As I was working on this I thought how much easier it would be to purchase a coconut door mat and just cut it to fit!
This took a lot of fiber, let me tell you....


The decorative ridge on the top of the roof looks simple to do, but it's not... I repeat, it is not.
You can see where I have 2 irons sitting on top of the ridge to make it lay flat. Its a tricky roof which will require 3 separate roof ridges.

 Here's hoping this roof is finished by the end of the week. I really must get back to the illustrations.

Well, how about that? I almost have my very own thatched roof at last... well, it's really not my house. But my little mouse will be thrilled.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Making Chimney pots

I have always been fascinated with chimney pots, especially those magnificent, elaborate Tudor and Victorian pots with swirling brick patterns and ornate design reaching up past the rooftops, and chimney stack and into the sky. When you look at some of them, you have to wonder at the fact that the artisans put so much incredible beauty into an item whose details can scarcely be seen from the ground!
 Just look at some of these amazing chimney pots
  Why were these purveyors of SMOKE  created in such an elaborate and artistically whimsical manner, by craftsmen of real talent. To understand that, you must understand the history of the fireplace and chimney.

  I'll make it brief:
   Initially, homes heated with wood had no chimney, the smoke just traveled around the room making life rather miserable and causing everyone's eyes to water, hence the invention of the chimney to carry out the smoke.
 If you were well off, and had the means to make a chimney,  you wanted everyone to know about it, and you topped off the chimney with the decorative pot, which was something of a status symbol.  The more ornate and intricate the design, the more prestigious.  Of course, the pots also helped increase the draft up a chimney and carry away stray sparks from your roofing materials.
Aren't these just gorgeous?!
Throughout the Tudor, Gothic and Victorian ages, Chimney pots were the final statement and flourish at the top of your roof.
  A Writer in 1842 wrote of Chimney pots "..being the highest point of the chimney, they should meet the eye agreeingly"
 ( all my chimney pot images are courtesy of Pinterest)
Though often thought of as purely English, Chimney pots were used throughout the world.
I want a chimney pot or two on Trimble Manor
Mine will be rather more of a humble affair, and I have to figure out how on earth to make one.
First I made my chimney using the same stone facing that I used around my front door.

 I found no useful tutorials on this project so I had to use my imagination.... starting with these items:  Empty toilet paper roll, paper clay, my little bricks, wooden egg holders and buttons
   I decreased the size of the tube to suit
And experimented with different brick patterns. I can't tell you how many times I removed these little bricks and started over again.
I glued together the wooden discs, egg cup holders and buttons for the tops and bottoms of the pot and painted, trying to come close to the color of clay.

I've got more work to do on these, but at this point, I think these chimney pots will definitely "meet the eye agreeingly"

   Here is a peek of the thatched roofing I've been working on... We really needed those tall chimney pots!


My old kitty, Shasha, loves sitting in the attic of this house