Hopalong Hollow....

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bit by bit, piece by piece...staying focused

It is easy to stay focused at the art table when the weather is frosty, or snow is viewed from a studio window. A drizzly, wet day is the perfect recipe for hours of productivity. BUT, when it is a balmy 62 degrees outside, the geese are honking, the sheep are meadow-ing and the garden beds are coyly suggesting," turn a spade or two in our leafy soil?", it is not so simple to "stay the course". I managed to resist the urge, as last weeks weather was almost Spring-like.

Working on these two pages reminded me that I had NOT planted all the bulbs that should have been sunk in November, there were nearly 300 of them.
 So instead, I planted Mopkin's bulbs in the rich, black earth

 My bulbs are still healthy, and I will spend ONE day this week planting them. (Of course, THEN it will choose to  snow).
Anyone who idealizes and romanticizes about what it means to be a storybook illustrator,( or any kind of artist for that matter), needs to know...that it is a lot of work. Countless hours are spent alone at the workable..unless you have a little friend to cheer you on.
 In this case,  my little companion has a disapproving countenance  because I am painting a mouse, instead of a cat.
Often, I will be working on things that many would consider completely monotonous.
 Like 36 crocks and jugs, some less than 1/4 inch tall.

 Or, for example, painting moss, shading stones, painting crevices and cracks in timbers. Little details such as this can take an hour for a mere 3 inches of work.

But it is those little things that count... the trifles.
To make ones living illustrating elaborate Storybooks is not an easy road if you require a lot of friends,  activity and socializing. It is a rather solitary profession and just perfect for me.

"Never less alone than when alone" is my motto. I have never minded solitude, and being a slave to detail is my nature.
 These colors are pretty accurate, as opposed to the  full page image below.

 We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, and on this page, I am trying to say a lot. Therefore, I have created 4 illustrations blending into one. Each section has a definite purpose.  I'm constantly devising clever ways to squeeze as much art into a page as possible while, at the same time separating my illustrations.

There is quite a bit of difference in  illustrating a book, as compared with making one of my painted papercuttings or a paper garden.

A Painted paper cutting may take me 40 hours of work, and then I AM FINISHED. But with a book, I am  making up to 36 paintings, a book jacket AND endpaper art.  It takes a very long time and a lot of commitment.  And when one book is finished, you start right away on the next! AND you must go out and PROMOTE! PROMOTE! PROMOTE! But I love it, even though I doubt I'll ever  become a well-known illustrator.

There will only EVER be one Beatrix Potter, one Tasha Tudor, one Arthur Rackham,   although many of us would like to take on the mantle. Alas, most of us will putter away in obscurity, our reward being the satisfaction of creating our books, knowing generations will enjoy them and hopefully, selling lots of books along the way!


I don't know James's recipe, but I will tell you he is a fantastic cook and even makes this soup taste extraordinary. One day we are going to create a cookbook with all his great recipes.
(My father was a chef, but I never took the time to learn a thing about cooking from him... except this... add anise seed to  your spaghetti sauce.)
 Today our tea is Twinings Earl Grey
Onward Ho, to the next 2 pages!


  1. ** There will only EVER be one Beatrix Potter, one Tasha Tudor, one Arthur Rackham ** and, there will only be one Jeri Landers.

    Your work is sweet, so detailed and filled with love and joy of living life. I just can't get over how much detail is on every page, you can't see it all the first looksee, you have to go back again and again.

    It's nice that you have your own personal chef. The soup looks delicious!

    Love and hugs to you and James ~ FlowerLady

  2. Dear Jeri - all of what you wrote touches my heart. You are correct that Beatrix, Tasha and Arthur are great illustrators but so are you dear Jeri and there is only one of you as well. I know I love seeung all your work and your eye for details is beyond amazing. Thanks for sharing your work with me - I do so love what you do.

  3. wonderful to see your art unfolding!
    i love earl gray, yum.
    lovely painting to you~

  4. Your work is just amazing--Your attention to detail is just beautiful! I love it! ♥
    Martha Ellen

  5. Jeri,
    I could most definitely content myself with illustrating if I had a shred of talent in that direction. Which I do not. My book would end up looking as though it were drawn by a second grader!! But I could spend hours on the sewing machine....by myself with a good cup of tea (something green and gingery)! So, I get it for sure. I am so glad that right now the garden sleeps beneath a wintry blanket and is not calling to me. For sure I would not be able to resist its tempting song!

    Thanks so much for sharing your work with the rest of us, who have worlds of whimsy in our heads, but the inability to express them....you do it for us!

    Have a great week, Jeri,

  6. Jeri, I echo so many who have commented before me. I think your illustrations are amazing...the color, the detail. Your hand brings these precious characters to life. I so enjoy seeing the process. I know you will get your bulbs planted. Bonnie

  7. I admire your self-control, Jeri! I know that I'd be finding excuses to go outside, like those unplanted bulbs, instead of staying inside and working. Guess it's a good thing that I work outside my home ;)

    Anyway, pat on the back and good girl--you know it's worth the discipline for those of us who love your work!

  8. Jeri, you are right there with Beatrix, Tasha and Arthur! If Beatrix or Tasha could see your art, they would judge it among the best! I have no doubt about it. Wish I could share a cup of tea and bowl of James soup. Book 3 is coming together and we wait as we watch you finish it up.
    Thank you so for including us in your progress towards publishing this next adventure,
    god bless, Deborah Mercy

  9. My dear friend,
    All one needs to do is read your books and gaze upon your exquisite illustrations to know you are right along side with the best.. I know Beatrix, Tasha and Arthur would have been the first to agree.
    Jeri, your books are a gift to readers, young and old, and will be treasured for years to come. Held, I am sure, by children and adults, loving parents reading to their children, adults (me too) marveling at the intricacy of your artwork, and your stories. Stories that are so meaningful and a joy to read..
    I am so grateful that you have shared your progress along the way.
    I am always in awe. You are a marvel!
    With great admiration and friendship,

  10. I am in complete awe at your commitment and determination. I know how many long and lonely hours go into the creation of such a detailed picture book. If I were a publisher I would certainly want to add you to my list.

    1. Valerie, I am sure you can relate to the commitment. Your books are FABULOUS and obviously created with much care and countless hours.

  11. Good morning dearest friend!

    I don't know where I was yesterday that I missed this post; no wait....I was in my cold basement working on some items that in themselves, give pleasure. You are so right, and I had to find out for myself that art and trying to make a living at it is the most difficult task. Enjoying it for the snippets of time that we can steal away to create it is our reward...and hopefully, a sale along the way!

    Your work will always go down as some of the most lovingly executed and skillful expressions in my library, and in those of many. ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF YOUR GIFTS; I am now starting to do so myself and that is what it is all about.

    HUGS TO YOU and those feathered friends of ours! Oh, and to Jemima too! Anita

  12. Your talent is unique to you and speaks volumes in its own right :)
    May I ask what type of pencils you use to draw out your pages?

    1. Tina, I use zebra mechanical pencils with .o5 lead, then, I sharpen the lead with an emory board if I need an extra fine point.

  13. always fun to follow you and your journey, what you say is true, an artist spending hours possibly alone, creating, thinking, dreaming...I have 4 cats that insist on being right with me in my studio every moment... they are my heart.. the others prefer to be alone somewhere else in the house...loved your first book, am enjoying finding all the treats in the illustrations..


    Oh how I love to see your visits chez moi!

    You asked about those moving photos? They are called GIFS and I have made one a couple of years ago of TEA RAT DANCING!!!!! I would like to however, make more of them with my own photos or drawings, but to make them right, I am not sure.

    I get mine on TUMBLR. All you have to do is Google "Tumblr gif" and then insert the word of the object you are looking for. Beware however; there are some images that come up that could SHOCK YOU!

    Thank you for your beautiful support. It is of utmost importance for me to know that my "storytelling" efforts are appreciated, and to hear it from a master storyteller like you really feels great.

    I really do want to find out how to make GIFS of my own because the one I had made of Tea Rat "ran out" after a couple of days. It must have been one of those free-trial deals!

    HAVE FUN!!! Anita

  15. Thank you for the beautiful insight into your work process. Since I read this a day or two ago, you've been making me think. My greatest obstacle to painting is simply sitting still. You made me see that everyone has to do that...so I need to just deal with it. :-) I love creating; sitting still is hard.

    From another who plants her bulbs bag-by-bag between September and March. :-)

  16. Really amazing work! I'm solitary too, and I don't mind it either. Although, I admit to furry companions as well (from my Labrador, to my big fluffy cat, to one of my children's bunnies.) My guess us that all of us artists are a wee bit solitary in nature!

  17. Oh Jeri...to me you are every bit the Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor. When your next book is complete, I shall shout it from the roof tops and promote your incredible talent. Your work graces the corners of my home, brings me joy and makes me smile. I am honored to know you and call you my friend.
    Looking forward to your next book.

  18. Love your paintings and I'm still looking forward to adding this lovely book to my collection.:0)

  19. I just recently began following you and I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog:-) I love the artwork. I can see the passion you have for the characters and the setting. The details are just like Potter if not better. Its who I thought of when I first saw your books. How many are there now. I'm going to have to go find some now:-)

    1. Sarah, Thankyou! You can find my books through my website or on Amazon. here are only two, so far.

  20. Jeri, dear, this is such a beautiful post...your work is extraordinary, and the love you put into it literally comes alive for us, the viewers...exquisite...
    That Earl Grey is one of my favorites :)
    - Irina

  21. And life is indeed brimming here at the hollow! How is that little Jemima these days? And then this spring, I bet more life will come and sadly go at the Hollow, but that is what it's all about, isn't it my dear?


  22. I SOOO love to visit the Hollow..together with Miss Moussie...Hugs from all of us dearest..

    T.D and Company

  23. I appreciate your kind words so much, dear Jeri....and I am so glad you enjoyed the photos...
    It is great fun to seek them out!
    And of course I am in complete awe when I visit your world!!!!
    Blessings and hugs,
    - Irina :)

  24. Jeri, your work is precious. every little tiny detail,, so well thought out.. it is obvious to me that you are not only skilled at your expansive art work but of all the things you paint about, sewing, gardens, animals, buildings, landscape... it all shows how much you care. you paint and draw from knowledge and experience.

    1. Gwen, That is just the nicest thing you could have said to me!

  25. Thank you for sharing the week's progress with us! I so enjoy seeing your drawings come to life with the color! And the soups look lovely!
    I will be back to see how it is going. Best Wishes for this plan/schedule to work well for you. I can't wait to order this book when it is published!
    Lily, WA, USA


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