Easter Day Alphabet
illustrated by Alison Davis Lyne
This is the cover for Easter Day Alphabet written by Beverly Vidrine, which was published by Pelican Publishing Company in February 2003.
I was chosen to illustrate this book in spring of 2002. When I first got the manuscript for the book, I immediately began thinking what I could do to give this book a slightly different slant than all the other Easter books. The subject matter, the Easter holiday and the format of the book being alphabet I thought I might use patterns to set this book apart from the usual holiday book.
I contacted the author and asked for some of her research notes on the holiday and its customs. She provided me with an array of clips from various articles. There was a lot of good material from which to work. Beverly Vidrine and I talked about the fact that an author has to edit what she wants to say to get the text to the pre-school level. Where as I, the illustrator, am trying to make pictures that are " worth a thousand words". I decided that for some of the pictures I could use pre-school children dressed in historic clothes engaging in some of the old games and traditions that make up the holiday. For others I used the appropriate object that was being discussed (i.e. "E is for egg")
Since for many of the pictures I was showing historical actions, I was able tie in the background patterns with the correct time period. For instance the letter "Q" was for Queen of all holidays, since it is the most important holiday in the church calendar. I had read in the author's notes that in "olden days" many people would take the decorated Easter eggs to church to be blessed by the priest. I thought this would be a great scene to show. I dressed the figures in medieval clothes, and put a design in the background of celtic knot work. I have a fascination with historic patterns, and had great fun making up the patterns based on actual knot work from the period.
For the Y page (Y is for yellow) I showed a couple of Easter chicks, just popped out of their shells, which had been colored by an “old tyme” dye of yellow onion skins.
The little girl in the page below, is holding a bird's nest full of eggs, which is a possible source of the Easter basket tradition. I dressed her in clothes of the Charles II period. The background pattern is a take off of celtic knot work turned into shining ribbons.
The artwork was done actual size 8.5 by 11 inches. It was done on bristol board with a combination of acrylic glazes, colored pencil and touches of watercolor and or gouche. I find that the colored acrylic glazes give the bright clear colors that go so well with children's book illustration. The colored pencil work was mostly in the letters and in the background patterns, for the ease of control that the colored pencil medium gives.
I enjoy historical children's book illustration first, because I get to use LOTS of color, but also because I get to do research and learn about the subject at hand. Many times while learning enough about the subject to portray it accurately, I get a whole new understanding of the subject.
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