Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blog Tour: My Creative Process

Hello, friends. I have been tagged by the funny and talented Jessica Lopez to take part in the blog tour that has been sweeping the children's lit world for the past several months. Have you seen Jessica's work? She paints the most beautiful butterflies, amazing insects and the sweetest children's art! You should check it out here.

I must say I have been absolutely enthralled by everybody's posts so far. It has been great stepping inside so many creative peoples' brains and learning about (OK, stealing) their creative processes.

Onto the questions.

What am I currently working on?

At the moment, I am working on a religious board book which has been a ton of fun so far. The publisher is looking for a "Joyful Jesus" and I have very much enjoyed this. Hard not to smile when Jesus is beaming back at you from your drawing board!

Beyond that, there are always several ideas for picture books and even a middle grade novel swimming around in primordial state in my creative petri dish. I have a picture book in the story development stage which has me nearly driving off the highway as I struggle to solve plot problems during my work commute. I also continue to chase that big picture book or chapter book series illustration job which is right around the corner. I'm sure of it.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't really know the answer to this. When I compare my work to others', I usually get frustrated because everybody is so awesome! But like all illustration, my work has an original quality that I believe makes it recognizable as my own. I have been told that there is a joy and a safeness to my drawings. If I had to pinpoint my inspiration, it would be a sort of warm-fuzzy nostalgia, deeply rooted in my first-grade classroom where Ms. MacLendon played the auto harp while the class sang "Free to be You and Me".

From "Moose n' Me" by Kenny Loggins, ©2011 Good Ol' Dog Publishing

From Highlights Magazine for Children, ©2014 Highlights for Children, Inc.

Why do I write and illustrate what I do?

I create what I do because, quite simply, it makes me happy. Somewhere inside of me remains that little first-grader. He refuses to grow up and enjoys entertaining himself with drawings of fuzzy animals and happy children and every now and then eating too many Circus Animal cookies.

A Fox in Summer ©2013 Joshua Nash

How does my creative process work?

I get most of my ideas while mowing the lawn. I once heard an interview with a poet who said his creative process involved going out into his garage and sorting different sized nuts and bolts into individual coffee cans. That sounded pretty crazy to me until I realized I did a lot of my creative thinking while doing mindless chores. So coming up with new ideas for a drawing or solving a story problem is likely to happen behind the lawn mower.

I actually do a lot of visualizing and dreaming in my head before I start sketching out an idea. I like to get to know my idea first. Where did it go to school? Does it like Indian food? Coltrane or Parker? After that, it is the typical "scribble begets thumbnail begets sketch begets painting" routine. I paint using Windsor & Newton watercolors and add a final line drawing over the painting with a black Prismacolor pencil. Usually a Verithin pencil depending on the line weight I am looking for.

Thumbnail Sketch

Final Sketch

Final Painting

Who's next?

And now it is my distinct privilege to pass it on to two extremely talented illustrators, Becka Moor and Blythe Russo, both of whose work I absolutely adore.

That covers it, I think! Thank you for reading. If you'll please excuse me, I have some lawns to mow.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Hi Friends, as soon as I found out that Roald Dahl Day was a "thing" I knew I had to create something to celebrate. For me, Roald Dahl is the quintessential writer for children. Not only was his imagination astonishingly keen and mischevious, but he wrote TO children, not AT them. His child heroes were clever and kind, and his adult heroes emulated a childlike purity that allowed them into our secret club even though they were grown-ups. I believe Dahl's works hold a special place in all of our hearts for these reasons.

Please enjoy this little moment from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from me to you. I hope you all get everything you wanted, and of course, live happily ever after!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Getting Lost in Maps from Children's Literature

If there is one thing I am a fan of, it is a children's book with a map. Nothing complements a children's story like a beautifully illustrated map. A map in children's literature can literally take you along on the adventure. Think of Tony DiTerlizzi's wonderfully inked map which adorns his and Holly Black's The Spiderwick Chronicles. A map can also serve to bring to life the stomping grounds of the different inhabitants of an imaginary location. Ernest Shepard's "collaboration" with Christopher Robin in The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne is a perfect example. And sometimes a map just makes the book more beautiful to look at such as the lovely vintage map of Paris covering the end pages of Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock.

Whether the cartography is of an imaginary realm or 1907 Paris, I can pour over them for hours, inserting myself into the tantalizing topography. Please enjoy getting lost in some images of brilliant chlidren's literature maps I have taken from my own personal library, below. If you prefer to browse on a convenient Pinterest board, I've got one for you right HERE!



From Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales. Map by Beatrix Potter. Penguin, 2012.

From The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. Map by Ernest Shepard. Dutton, 1992.

From The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Map by J. R.R. Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1937.

From The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Map by Tony DiTerlizzi. Simon and Schuster, 2003.

From The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Map by Evaline Ness. Holt, Rinehart & Co., 1964.

 From The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Map by Jules Feiffer. Random House, 1961.

From The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy. Map by Carson Ellis. Balzer + Bray, 2001.

From "Adele & Simon" by Barbara McClintock. Map from from 1907 edition of Paris and Environs by Karl Baedeker and incorporated into book design by Iren Metaxatos. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. 

From "Chasing Vermeer" by Blue Balliett. Map by Brett Helquist. Scholastic Press, 2004.

Monday, July 15, 2013

And The Winner Is...

Well, it is the moment we have all been waiting for (or is it just me?)! With eyes squeezed shut, I drew a deep breath to steady my hand, reached deep into the twisted bramble of hopeful names, pinched ever so randomly upon the chosen tag, lifted it from my trusty herringbone hat to reveal the winner...

And the winner is my Twitter pal and brilliant illustrator, Blythe Russo! Congratulations, Blythe! I know you will give Guy Fox a happy home!

Thank you to everybody who participated, and made this give-away so fun and such a giant success! So many of you commented, liked, shared, retweeted and I truly appreciate every one of you for your support.

If you are among the folks who unfortunately did not win and would still like to have "A Fox for all Seasons" in your home, please visit my Etsy shop.

Joshua Nash Illustrations on



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Place of Work

I have always been fascinated when offered a peek into another artist's workspace. I imagine the space to be an extension of that artist's creative self and that it might even offer clues into understanding their creative process. For example, a cluttered studio might suggest a busy mind which finds inspiration in chaos, while a tidy space could suggest a laser-focused creative energy. I am not sure what my workspace says about my own creative process, but I am sharing it with you nonetheless. If it appears uncluttered, please note I cleaned it up before taking any pictures. Regardless, you get the basic idea!

My workspace occupies an office in my home. There is plenty of sunshine during the day which is wonderful on the weekends but not so handy on weekdays when I am working as a graphic artist for an ad agency in an entirely different location! I spend most evenings here, however, sketching, drawing, painting, googling for reference & snickering at Facebook posts and Youtube videos. I listen to music while I work, shuffling tunes by my favorite artists. My wife and I share the office and she keeps me company between catching up on her work emails. She has a brilliant eye for color and even advises me on my palette from time to time.

The tools of my trade are very basic. I sketch and draw with Primacolor Turquoise HB pencils (I prefer a hard lead for crisp, non-smudging lines!) on a Canson 65 lb 9 x 12 sketch pad. I use a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet for any digital coloring, usually for my color studies before I actually paint with water colors.

I paint using water color from Windsor & Newton tubes and wet my brushes in an old spaghetti sauce jar I've been using for 15 years. I use round sable brushes, also by Windsor & Newton, mixing my colors in a Japanese-style flower-shaped palette. I paint on Bainbridge 2200 cold-press illustration boards and I finish my illustrations with black Prismacolor Verithin colored pencils.

For reference, I rely heavily on the wonderful world of Google Images. Once I have a few thumbnails and have an idea of what sorts of characters, animals and environments I will be drawing, I go to the Google machine and search for relevant images and squirrel them away in folders on my iMac. I also find endless inspiration in my beloved library of picture books and children's literature. These books are my art school and I learn so much from studying past and present masters of the picture book genre. The middle grade books, as well as containing some amazing illustrations themselves, are full of characters and stories that keep my imagination firing on all cylinders.

All these features aside, I suppose what makes my work space special to me is that it is a comfortable and familiar sanctuary where I can retreat to and fully inhabit the most important area for an artist: that creative space that resides inside of them.

Thank you for reading and allowing me to share my work space with you, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask in the comments!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice Foxtravaganza

Friends, I would like to celebrate the first day of summer by kicking off a giveaway! Having recently listed my brand-new limited edition print series titled "A Fox for all Seasons"on, I could think of no better way to ring in the summer season! So, I will be giving away one set of prints to one lucky winner!

"A Fox for all Seasons" is a set of four 8 x 10 Giclée prints professionally printed on Hahnemühle Photo-rag®. This is a limited edition of 200 prints, signed and numbered by me!

Click here to see the listing!

All you have to do to enter the drawing is comment on this blog post and when my Facebook page reaches 300 likes, I'll select a winner!

So get commenting, liking, retweeting and sharing because the sooner we reach 300 likes, the sooner "A Fox for all Seasons" could be yours!

Good luck!