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Emma's Rainy Day - This is the cover of “Emma's Rainy Day” published by BeachHouse Publishing and illustrated by me, of course!

It's about a Hawai'ian girl who goes outside to play in the rain, and gets carried away by both a little stream in her back yard, and her very big imagination!

The book can be found at Amazon.com.
The Blizzard Wizard - Behold: The cover of the picturebook "The Blizzard Wizard" by Lynn Plourde, and illustrated by me, of course!

The story follows two children who want it to snow—and visit their friend the Blizzard Wizard. Unfortunately, he's lost the spell. The fun happens when he tries to fake his way through it!

The book can be found at Amazon.com.
Henny Penny - “Good morning, Goosey Loosey, Ducky Daddles, Cocky Locky, Henny Penny, and Chicken Licken,” said Turkey Lurkey, “where are you going?”
“Oh, Turkey Lurkey, the sky is falling and we are going to tell the King!”
Sandman - I enjoy drawing different incarnations of the Sandman. This is my latest.

For this Sandman, I thought to myself—what if he were Doctor Who-like? So he got a waistcoat and a cravat and a magnificent coat. Also in his arsenal: a basket of poppies, his bag of golden sand (which has got a hole in it), and something new—a rainbow-colored umbrella. The Sandman spins the colored umbrella over sleeping children and gives them good dreams.
American Letter - This is an illustration for the McGraw-Hill Wright Group Reading program. The story is called “The American Letter”.
October/November - After taking a long walk a couple of weeks ago taking in the colors of the leaves, I wanted to create a spooky illustration for this time of year. Somehow I landed on the idea of rendering months in physical form. I may create others for the rest of the months. Or I may not.

I do like their dreamlike strangeness, and the way they seem to exist above the tops of the trees.
Man in the Moon - Here’s an image I painted for no particular reason other than I’ve wanted to create a portrait of the Man in the Moon for a while. It wasn’t until I thought of him having a pet rabbit did the picture then have the element it needed to make the image interesting enough to be drawn.
claude - This is Claude Claude. He's the main character in my picture book dummy--Claude Claude, The Vampire Moth-- which won first place in the 2006 SmartWriters.com book dummy division! Yay, me!
claude's class - This is Claude Claude's classroom. He's not there because he's skipping school. He must be celebrating the fact that I won first place in the 2006 SmartWriters.com book dummy division.
vampirette - I saw an old book, probably from the '70s. It was full of illustrations depicting soldiers from the late 1800s. One particular page showed an officer from head-to-toe in full regalia. Behind him was a weathered ledger page with a gridwork of boxes containing looser ink drawings of men, shown from the waist up, wearing various uniforms of many styles and colors. I thought--What a great design. I wonder how I could use it?
the wizard's chair - Happy Halloween! What happens when a girl wanders into the Wizard King's haunted house, puts on his hat, and sits in his chair? I have no idea, but it doesn't look like anyone in the house does either. I'm not sure, but I think a story is starting to form. I was only making a painting for my October postcard, but it looks like I've got a children's book along with it, to boot!
faery kin - One day I decided to create a journal containing only images of faeries. I picked up a blank book from Barnes & Noble and drew enough images for each spread. Currently the book sits on my shelf unfinished, with little faerie sketches scattered between the leaves. This image was one of the most interesting--showing faery children on a great rural plain with their critters--so I finished it as a stand-alone illustration outside the confines of the faerie book.
flyboy - The concept of this illustration is simple. It's about a boy and his imagination. All the white space is intended for text.
blind lemon jefferson - I was in the library the other day, looking through the music collection for something new to listen to. I find that the library is a great way to not only find new artists, but to try out new genres that may not be available on your local radio stations. I ran across a musician with an interesting name: Blind Lemon Jefferson--King of the Country Blues. It's great music to listen to on languid summer days sitting on the veranda with a cool glass of lemonade!
breakfast fragment - So, there's this girl in my SCBWI group. I thought she was cute, so I drew her. That's the story, morning glory.
the singing neanderthal - Here's one I did for Books & Culture magazine. It illustrates a review for Steven Mithen's book, "The Singing Neanderthals", wherein he hypothesizes that early man may have learned to sing from listening to wolves.

They said, "Have fun with it." I thought of Elvis.
pussageno - Of course, Papageno is the bird-catching character from Mozart's "The Magic Flute". I must tell you that inspiration for this picture also came from Nick Cave's Soundsuits. How many birds do you know?
masque of the red death - Yeah, from the Edgar Allan Poe short story. I did this illustration for the cover of the now-defunct "SO" magazine. It was a wrap-around, and it had a flap that folded inside. The reader wouldn't know what everyone at the masquerade was looking at until they picked up the magazine and opened the flap. It was done for the October issue. Unfortunately it never ran. Hey, at least it has some pretty cool Halloween costume ideas.
homeless ghosts of new orleans - When I heard about the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina, I whimsically thought of how phantoms might react to a flood. I completed this painting before the enormity of the destruction was revealed. This image that I've created does not match the seriousness of the disaster, nor exemplify the horror that so many must have faced. But I do believe that it touches on the sorrow that we must feel for the people who lost so much.
jack frost - When I decided that I'd make an illustration of Jack Frost, I didn't realize until I started on the colors that I'd end up painting someone wearing silver and white in silvery-white snow next to a silvery-white snowman--while it's snowing. I tried rendering him in blues and purples, but it just didn't work. Notice how the limited color palette allows me to keep this illustration extra frosty.
Junior Ranger Handbook - Next time you go to Zion National Park out in Utah, pick up one of these for your kid. And even if you don't have a kid, pick one up anyway--they're fun!

I illustrated the whole book (20 illustrations in all), and had a great time with art director Sandy Bell--she was terrific to work with!

I'm very happy with the color palette--it's very southwestern. I also got to design three characters that appear periodically throughout the book.
lydia jane - My ex-neighbors (they moved, I'm still here) had a baby they named Lydia Jane. Her mother is Chinese and her father is Dutch. So I was wondering about her, and things like, what will she look like when she gets older? What color will her hair be, her eyes, her skin? And what will it be like the first time she visits relatives in China? Will she find it strange, or wonderful?
the ramayana - Prince Rama has been living in the forest with his wife Sita. He has just learned from Jatayu that his wife has been abducted by the ten-headed demon, Ravana. Even though he was gravely wounded while defending Sita, Jatayu brings the news to Prince Rama and dies in his arms. Hanuman, the leader of the monkeys--who is deeply devoted to Prince Rama--gathers the animals together who pledge to help him on his quest to find his wife, Sita. The animals shown are native to India.
frankenberry - Recently, when I saw a picture of Franken Berry. I realized his fingernails were made to look like strawberries. I thought to myself, "who does his nails?" I decided it would be funny if he did his own nails.
booberry - Franken Berry was voiced in the cartoon to sound like Boris Karloff, Count Chocula sounded like Bela Lugosi, and Boo Berry was Peter Lorre. So I gave Boo Lorre's features--and his smoking habit.
count chocula - I started drawing the General Mills' "Monster Cereals" for fun. While I was sketching, I found myself wondering the same thing I wondered when I was a kid--"Is that his hair or is that a hat? BTW, the background is a chocolate layer cake.
the spirit of christmas - The Spirit of Christmas is everywhere. But we have to look for it. I think most people don't see it at all. But for the very young--or young at heart--they can find it.

I drew this in three parts--the buildings were one part, Santa the boy, and his mom were another, and the crowd, another. I combined them using Photoshop. I find that's easier when the backgrounds are complex.
hoopoe - An art director told me she really liked my work, but asked if I could draw a character consistently over the amount of illustrations needed for a picture book. She suggested that I draw some animal characters in different positions and add it to my portfolio.

I wanted animals that were very different from each other, and I decided the group would consist of a mammal, a bird, and an amphibian.

When selecting the bird, I picked a hoopoe because I had never drawn one before.
verve - Here is the next character study in the series. Verve is the first character I drew. I picked a vervet monkey because I liked the challenge of drawing a character with a face that is all black. It's a unique look and it gave me a character that's very visually striking.
crockadilly - Here is the next character study in the series. I drew the bird and the monkey, and had decided the next character would be an amphibian. I wanted a water character to keep the group well-rounded. I chose a crocodile because that would give me a tall, upright character. I also decided to make the crocodile uncrocodile-like by giving her the personality of a little girl.
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inkyboy illustrations
John Aardema
John Aardema Chicago, IL