A Peek at Work in Progress

Scott Freeman-children's book illustrator

Here you can see stages in the development of a finished watercolor illustration.

I’m quite enthused about the storybook I’m currently working on. The book is called Bear Island. It’s a story themed around the idea that we were all designed by God for loving relationship. When I release the book, I’ll divulge more of the storyline.

Here’s the story in a nutshell. Bear Island is a great place for bears to live, but all of the bears are alone. They’re alone because they think that the way to be happy and strong is to be selfish. There’s a lot of fighting and grumpiness on the island. Then one day a very large, new bear visits the island. All of the native bears are afraid of him at first, but he goes against the grain of the culture and models selflessness and love to the island, changing the culture.
Mama Bear-watercolorThe point of this post is to give you a glimpse of how the artwork is coming along. I’ve had a couple of people tell me that they would like to see some work in progress. I hadn’t thought of doing this because, well, I see my own artwork everyday. If readers seem interested, I’ll do this with each new book. With each book I plan to employ a different style to fit the attitude of the book – fanciful, or silly, or realistic – so I hope this will help to keep it interesting for you.
Books for kids-Bear IslandBear Island was written to be accessible to a slightly younger audience than were my previous books. The illustration style for Bear Island is simple and pared down, in keeping with the simplicity of the story.
Bear Island-Scott FreemanAs a side note, I’ll mention another hope I have for this book. I designed it with the intention of making it palatable to Black and Hispanic readers. When I worked at Hallmark as a greeting card artist, I learned why greeting cards often feature animals as “spokespeople.” A primary reason is that this allows people of differing races to identify with the character. In the same way, Bear Island is peopled with brown bears, (not polar bears, mind you!) So my hope is that the characters will appeal to kids of any race, enabling them to fully identify with the characters. The story makes a point of affirming intact, loving families as an ideal. Also, after the selfish bear culture has been transformed into a life-affirming, relational one, new and creative possibilities that didn’t exist before emerge on the island.

Christian storybooks-Bear IslandHere you can see some of my favorite illustrations so far. What you’re seeing are the untouched paintings shot with my lame camera, but you can still get a pretty good idea of how they’re coming along. I’m juggling a lot of other work right now, but I expect to release Bear Island by the month of April. Enjoy!

If you haven’t already done so, please visit the home page and sign up on my email list so I can notify you of new storybook releases. I’ll send you an ebooklet as a thank you.

12 thoughts on “A Peek at Work in Progress

  1. Great idea to keep people posted on your progress. That gives me an idea to post paragraphs of my books from time to time to keep people thinking about them and hopefully ordering, reading, and living them.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, bro. I know I would appreciate seeing a good, pithy pull quote from what you’re writing.

  2. Yes! Thank you so much for following through in this wisdom. I am African American and I do not buy pictures or cards with people in the image if they are only white unless I am buying it for a person that is white. Not that I don’t like white people. My family is both white and black. In fact, just living in Colorado, I have submerged myself in a culture and community that is primarily white with very little diversity at all. So, my point is, that although this is part of my current reality, I just do not personally identify, or think of myself or my family that has color in the place of an “all white” image. And although I like seeing people of my own race, I am sure the reverse is true as well. (Please note: my statement here is very offensive to many, many people who think all the races should have their own lands and stay separate. It would be their belief that I not look to a white image but seek my own sources anyway. Even if you do not think that way, there are, even today, a very large number of people who do.) Anyway, my intent is to encourage you and let you know that I appreciate your consideration of this matter.

    • Sylvia – Your comment is very encouraging to me! I think that if I can include more people by simply not using exclusive imagery, then I should. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for my years at Hallmark, I don’t know that it would even cross my mind – I think most of us (whites anyway) tend to have the luxury of not thinking about race all that much, day to day.

      A funny story: Our family moved here from a very racially and ethnically diverse part of Kansas City’s inner city. One day, a couple of months after we’d moved here, we were sitting around the dinner table and one of my kids said sadly, “I miss black people.”

      I hope you are feeling welcome here! thanks for taking time to comment.

  3. Great stuff Scott. Can’t wait to see the finished project and pass it along to the Intimate Life folks. Could be a great market for you!

    • Thanks Pat. This book was definitely inspired by some of the biblically based ideas that you so artfully presented in your class.

  4. Scott,
    I enjoyed this preview. Thanks for sharing with us. I also want to let you know that Ron was ecstatic about the book he received. He was surprised and pleased to have an autographed copy to treasure.

  5. Wow! This is great seeing your watercolors in progress. I’ve looked at your other finished ones thinking, “ok, how does he do these?” The colors are clean and crisp with no mudiness. In my department (at the card company we both called “home” for awhile) we talked about “clean” looks of colors. And we only painted with black and graphite for color separations! That was back in covered wagon days. But, I love color! Keep posting your works in progress. Maybe some day I will “scale Mt. Olympus” to take one of your watercolor workshops. Until then, keep up with that great painting. Hey, I did live north of Denver, in Thornton, as a kid for about 7 years. That was during the mid 1800’s.

    • Ha – the mid 1800’s?
      It’s funny you mention the clean color, because I did actually pick up this watercolor technique from a couple of Hallmark guys.
      To be honest though, the pics in this post are simply shot with my lame hand-held camera, and not properly scanned and color corrected. So I think they look a little “hot” here. (But I’m working on the book right now, and the art is looking great!)

  6. Please let all of us know when the book has gone to press and is ready to be shipped out. Because I want two. Both signed, also!

    • I will certainly do that. You are on my subscriber list, and that is the surest way to get notification.
      Thank you so much for your support!

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