Once a homeschool Mom – always a homeschool Mom! My kids have been schooled at home all the way through, my daughter just graduated last year and my son is due to graduate next year. Education has been a daily … Continue reading
All the things promised in our last post; short stories, free colouring pages and more are still in the works and coming your way but here’s a bit more illustrated character visuals to keep you excited while you wait! If … Continue reading
Guess what!? First book is written and headed to the editor! YES!!! Then after that it’s draw, draw, and draw some more! Thought you all might enjoy seeing the edited version of our 1st book cover idea (not set in stone thought … Continue reading
Charting Stars, our new graphic novel series, is developing well and we are looking forward with joy to our release date this year! Ideas are generating, new supporting characters are being created, our world is taking form and so much more fun! Attached are more concept illustrations and explorations for you to take a peek at. If you’d like to see more daily updates make sure you join Whimsical on Instagram!
Erin Kleveland and I, Micheline Ryckman are working hard towards our goal of creating a new graphic novel series for Whimsical in 2017. If you follow along with me on Instagram you’ll have had the opportunity to get to know the constantly evolving characters from this new world. I thought it might be fun to share with you here as well a bit more of my concept illustrations, a blurb about the upcoming series and a new concept idea for a cover (not set in stone though.) Hope you enjoy these! “Talia Benson would consider herself fairly ordinary. Anyone would. Diligent student, only child to a single mother, protector of three cats, nothing special ever seems to happen to her. Life’s consistent rhythm brightened only by Talia’s talent for art and her obsession with the stars, a single evening in front of a blank canvas becomes the adventure she never dreamed she wanted. Swept away from the only life she had ever known, Talia now finds herself lost and alone in a world completely unlike her own. In a land where magic thrives and wars are born then die at the wave of a hand, strange creatures decide the fate of those who live among the Nine Realms. The guardians of this foreign world have felt a great shift in the heavens. Something has changed. A darkness is coming. No one would believe that a simple girl thrown between worlds could be the key to saving them all.”
We all wanted to wish you the MERRIEST Christmas ever and how better to do that than with a story and some illustrations! The art was a created by Micheline Ryckman and the story by Erin Kleveland. We hope you enjoy this and that your holiday season is full of goodness and joy!
Talia took a small step back to clear away the light fog her breath had left against the window pane, ignoring how her woolen gloves were beginning to grow considerably more damp with this ritual. Leaning forward, her nose nearly brushed against the frosty glass as she peered inside the vintage shop, affirming that there was nothing new in the displays at this time. She had been to these stores nearly every weekend since the end of October, remembering from years past how the vintage shops and antique stores always began showing off their new merchandise for the Christmas season.
She stepped away from the window with a disappointed sigh, rearranging the folds of her colorful scarf to hide her nose from the biting wind whipping through the narrow streets, small drifts of snow gathering in the alleyways and corners of the buildings. Talia knew exactly where she was, how many blocks she had to walk to reach the next shop, and who owned every one of the stores, but today had proven that there was not much in the way of novelty items to dream after. Regardless, she enjoyed spending her Saturdays this way.
Hopping from shop to shop, the girl found herself looking up at the last of them, an old two-story building that housed both a plethora of antique pieces and the shopkeeper’s family on the second floor. Talia could tell upon first glance alone that there was nothing new to be shown today, but she pushed through the heavy oak door anyway, needing the few minutes of warmth to get feeling back into her fingers and the tips of her ears before making the trek homeward.
The high-pitched chiming of a bell above her head alerted the man in the back of the shop that a customer had arrived, the proprietor putting aside what he was doing to see who the newcomer was.
“Oh, Talia! Afternoon to you.”
“Afternoon, Mr. Gamond. How goes it?”
The man shook his head with a small chuckle as he let his hands slip idly into the pockets of his working apron. “If you’re asking if I have anything new today, I’m afraid to say I don’t. Been a bit slower these past weeks.”
Talia feigned a look of disappointment, having already known that this was the case, her mouth returning to its natural smile as she quickly reassured him. “That’s okay. Though I do hope things get better for you, the closer it gets to Christmas and all.”
“Oh, I’ve no doubt of it.” The man took a moment to go back to where he had been rearranging clocks and other timepieces, returning to the front of the shop with a few gathered up to place in the window display as he spoke over his shoulder. “Your hands look rather empty there, Talia. No luck anywhere else? You know…Promise you won’t say it was me who told you so, but there’s another area you might try.”
“I already know about the new shopping mall, Mr. Gamond.”
The man gave a low laugh as he moved to hunt through the drawers of the desk he used as a register counter, finally pulling free what he was after. Carefully unfolding the many layers of the paper, the shopkeeper motioned for Talia to come closer as he pointed over the illustrated streets and roadways of a detailed map. “The mall is an exciting add-on for the younger folk, but for someone like you, I think you’ll be very interested in looking through the new antique district not but a mile farther south.”
Talia leaned over the desk to get a better idea of where this place was that the man was speaking of, nodding slowly to show that she understood as she smiled in obvious excitement. “More shops like this one?”
“Indeed. I’ve met a few of the owners and I think you’ll do well to poke around there a bit. Might find whatever it is you’ve been looking for.”
The girl fixed her scarf one more time as she hurriedly thanked the proprietor for his help, returning to brave the cold, filled with newfound determination and a sense of adventure.
Following the directions the shopkeeper had given her, Talia found herself constantly looking between street signs and her feet, trying not to get lost or wander onto a treacherous patch of ice. Nearly an hour passed before she caught sight of a sign hanging over a small shop, the mode of advertisement affirming that it was an antique store. Moving as quickly as her numb feet would allow, Talia crossed the road and smiled in relief upon realizing that the entire length of the street was littered with similar shops.
Moving from one store to the next, Talia searched carefully through the wares. The hours rolled on, yet she left each shop empty handed. Overhead, the clouded sky was growing dark. About to call it quits, Talia was prepared to turn back when a certain shop, smaller in size than the others, made her stop to take a second look. Clearing away the frost from a patch of the window, Talia’s eyes went wide in wonder upon seeing the treasure displayed within. There, sitting rather unobtrusively atop a polished tea-table, was a snow globe.
The leftover clatter of a handful of old jingle bells were all that announced her, the girl taking a moment to look around the well lit room she now found herself standing in.
Startled for a moment by the voice calling out to her, Talia was glad for the cold to disguise the blush rising to her cheeks as a young man, no more than a few years older than her, poked his head out from around a corner.
“Give me one moment and I’ll be right out.” The young man emerged from behind a grandfather clock he was tinkering with, wiping the grease and oil from his hands onto a well used apron. “The name’s Jamie, Jamie Clark. I’d shake your hand, but…”
Talia removed her soaked gloves in an attempt to warm herself as she gave a small laugh. “Talia Benson. Pleased to meet you.”
“Have you been in here before? I don’t remember seeing you, but my dad may have been running the store.”
“No, this is my first time. I was just browsing the shops when I saw the snow globe in your window.”
Following her to the display, Jamie nodded in recognition, a look resembling respect gleaming in his eyes. “We’ve had this piece for a while, well, since before we opened this place. People are usually in here for clocks and furniture, not little nicknacks like this. You can hold it, you know. I trust you not to throw it against a wall.”
Talia set her gloves and scarf aside as she took the cool glass of the dome into her hands. It was heavier than she had expected, but far more beautiful up close. The base was fashioned of simple brass, the metal delicately curling upward to hold the globe in place. Talia gave it a gentle shake, finding herself smiling in wonder as the small imitations of snow flew about the confines of the glass. All of that was beautiful, but it was the globe itself which truly made her stop to stare. Intricate details were etched into the glass which, at first glance, looked almost like cracks and flaws in the structure. Talia knew better. They were constellations.
She suddenly realized how long she had been standing there, turning to look up at the young man running the shop with a sense of surety. “How much for this?”
After searching through an old registry for the price, Talia readily agreed, taking a few minutes to count out the odds and ends of what money she had brought.
Returning Talia’s change, Jamie offered, “This is a Christmas present, am I right? Now I may not look it, but I can wrap a pretty professional looking gift. Save you the trouble at no extra charge. How about it?”
After carefully looking over the options, Talia chose a deep blue wrapping paper with small gold stripes, the young man finishing off the present with a glittery ribbon to match.
“And who should I make the card out to?”
Talia thought for a moment before giving a resolved nod. “Merry Christmas Mom, love your little star gazer.”
Her scarf and gloves donned once more, Talia left the shop with her new treasure tucked carefully beneath her arm, finally ready to make the journey back home.
Talia shivered as the cold persisted past the layers of sweaters and coats that had managed to keep her warm until now. The streets, cheery and spirited an hour ago, no longer seemed to give off that friendly glow. The girl pulled her scarf up to guard her cheeks against the biting wind, her eyes searching over the signs marking every street corner. Nothing was familiar. She could not recall being here.
Everything was fine, she would find her way back. She couldn’t be that far off, could she? Talia’s efforts to keep her thoughts collected and calm were beginning to fail her.
She continued walking, one foot in front of the other, what was left of her fragile confidence shattered upon turning the next corner. The street ended. Lost. She was most definitely lost.
Completely overwhelmed, Talia turned to lean her back against the brick wall that had cut her off, releasing a quivering breath in defeat as she clung to the wrapped box in her arms. It was late, it was dark, only a handful of dim street lamps to distinguish one shape from another as a few unwilling tears stung the corners of Talia’s eyes. She could ask for directions, but where? Every house was quiet, each shop closed for the night.
The girl nearly jumped out of her skin as something warm brushed against her leg, her nerves quickly put to right upon seeing who the culprit was. Giving a small laugh at her own surprise, Talia slowly moved to kneel on the frozen ground, her hand reaching out to the cat lazily circling her. “Hey there, little one. You lost too?”
The tabby purred softly with back arched to meet Talia’s hand, its eyes slowly opening to reveal an iridescent green.
Moving to sit against the wall, Talia ignored how cold the pavement was beneath her, gently urging the cat to sit in her lap as she tucked her package safely beneath her coat. “Good kitty,” was all she could manage to say at first, her mind growing more at ease with every pass of her hand over the small animal. Tipping her head back, the girl let the worry and confusion clouding her thoughts gradually dissipate, a smile dawning over her lips as she caught sight of the stars freckling the night sky. “I love winter. It has my favorite constellations. You see? There’s Orion, and that one is Cassiopeia, and if we could see farther Northeast, the Big Dipper would be there.”
Stars. Sitting forward to get a better view, Talia’s anxious thoughts slipped away upon realizing how she had gotten turned around. She knew every distinguishable star by name, their cycles through the seasons, and even how to tell direction by them.
“I’ve been going the wrong way. I…I’m facing East. I need to be going North.”
Carefully moving the cat back to the sidewalk, Talia forced her cold legs to support her, making certain that the gift was secured beneath her arm before setting out to find a crossroad. Talia’s relief was enough to push her onward as she slowly began to recognize the names printed on street signs and stores. The girl hardly noticed the new flurry of snow drifting from the gathering clouds, a sort of lightness finding its way into her step as home finally came into view.
Shaking the snow from her shoes and the ends of her scarf, Talia found herself smiling incredulously at the feeling of a gentle nudge against her tired legs. “You silly. Followed me home, did you? Guess we both needed the company. Thanks for getting me back.”
Warmth spread over Talia’s face as she pushed the front door open. The low sound of Christmas music from a radio and the rich smell of her mother’s gingerbread instantly met her senses.
Glancing back down at the tabby sitting contentedly by her feet, the girl leaned down to gently scratch behind its ears as she whispered, “Wait right here, okay?”
Talia let only a few minutes pass before returning, a small bowl of tuna in hand. No longer wearing her heavy coat or gloves, the girl shivered as she stepped out onto the porch. “Kitty? You still there? I have food. Kitty?”
She waited, but her calls were only answered by the whispers of wind passing over the house, no cat in sight. Disappointed, but not surprised, Talia shook her head with a small chuckle, knowing her mom would find it odd that a mystery cat had helped her home.
Leaning against the door once it had been secured behind her, the girl couldn’t help but smile upon seeing her mother’s present beneath their tree. It had been a crazy day, but worth every moment. It was a perfect gift. A perfect gift for a perfect Christmas.
It is amazing how much time it takes to create a new world, write scenes, pull it all together into cohesive illustrations and then edit, edit more and finally print. These things are what we are currently working on here at Whimsical for our upcoming graphic novel series. For me, the between times are full of practicing, and more practicing! As an illustrator it helps me to look ahead and come up with ideas and visual concepts for the series, it especially helps me grind the character designs into my drawing memory. I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the concept drawings I’ve come up with in the past few months around this new world (more to be announced in 2017), I hope you enjoy these! (Oh and if you’d like to see more on a daily basis be sure to follow me on Instagram –> @whimsicalillustration )
Oh and coming up shortly we’ll be posting an illustrated Christmas story special – another opportunity for you to get to know of these characters a little bit more!
We are excited to announce that Whimsical is in the beginning stages of developing a new series of graphic style novels! These novels will be aimed towards pre-teen and teen ages (as well as those who are just young at heart). The novels will be constructed in a half graphic / half traditional novel style. Our hope is to provide the illustrated graphic novel excitement but still emphasize and encourage kids to read. The more they read the text that corresponds to the illustrations, the more depth they’ll receive about the story. We want kids to love reading and our hope is that this style of novel will encourage this! We promise to give you more concrete information on all the details of this project in 2017.
But to whet your appetite my co-creator, Erin Kleveland and I have been having fun drafting and creating the characters for this new series. Attached below are the preliminary character sketches – we hope you enjoy! 😀
Pssst… if you’d like to follow along with us on a more daily level be sure to come join Whimsical on Instagram —> @whimsicalillustration
Drew, master magician and changeling child, don’t let her innocent and seemingly youthful appearance deceive you. She has seen far more years than anyone would guess, her reputation as a skilled handler of magic paving the way for her to be allied with vast and powerful kingdoms. When the plagues of war broke out through all the land, Drew was called upon by many to prove her usefulness in battle, entire armies rising or falling in a single night at her hand. But when the battles had ceased to be waged and the kingdoms had begun to heal, the great magician was nowhere to be found. Some thought her dead, others believed her to be deep in hiding from the countless enemies she had made, but only a few knew the truth. For reasons unknown to most, the Witch of the Nine Realms, as she had been since called, had decided upon a simpler life to suit her, not in hiding, but simply distancing herself from the troublesome kingdoms who would seek to use her again for her power and power alone. Few would even be able to distinguish her in a crowd, Drew’s nearly permanent form being that of an ordinary white cat, clear of scrutiny and prying eyes so that she might live the remainder of her life in the way she would so choose.
Jarrett has been an orphan for as long as he can remember, fending for himself on the streets of a kingdom in the middle of the nine realms. With his charismatic wit and easy-going outlook on life, no one would be the wiser to the hardships his lowly beginnings have afforded him. He will do any and everything to remain feeling useful, putting his street-smarts to use for just about any honest job that will pay in cash. With Jarrett’s personality, he has often found himself making friends with relative ease, his loyalty towards those he puts his trust in nearly unshakable once put into place. In comparison to most of his friendships, his closest attachment is with his squirrel companion, QB, the two having spent years together traveling the realm, going wherever they please, making friends and bonds in any place they find themselves. But despite his vast freedoms, Jarrett has never felt wholly complete, making his way over the world as if in search of what he is missing without the faintest idea of what that “something” could possibly be.
Calystra, daughter of the air thrown back to the earth, one can instantly recognize how greatly she differs from Jora. Though born of the same race, Calystra has never shared the sentiments of her kinsman towards humans, seeing those who live upon the earth as lesser beings, undeserving of the protection her people have always freely offered. Her pride and avarice had long gone unchecked, those leading above her holding firmly to the hope that she would one day shake off such notions, but time alone was enough to force their hand. Upon Calystra’s demands to be granted the star promised her from birth, the council’s attempts to explain how ill-prepared she was for such rights to be granted were met by the girl’s attempts to forcibly acquire what she believed to already be hers. Her punishment was severe. Banished to the earth she despised so poignantly, her powers nearly all stripped from her, the wings Calystra had always been so proud of could no longer bring her higher than the treetops, forcing her into as much of a mortal form as could be done to a child of the air. Wallowing in bitterness and her desire for recompense, most days of Calystra’s confinement to the forests and mountains are greatly spent in idle mischief and the caring of her adopted twin foxes Toss and Lear, simply biding her time until the day her plans for revenge can be realized.
Born of a race quickly receding into legend, Jora belongs to the company of those who take to the air, keepers of the stars and caretakers to all that their light shines upon. Her years are unknown to most, even to those closest to her, Jora’s wisdom and understanding of the world and those which lie beyond the nine realms only a small testament to her disguised age. Just as most of her angelic kind, she is graced by majestic wings which carry her to the sky and across the kingdoms, allowing her to better oversee the care of the people she has long sworn to protect. She does everything with reason and careful thought, her abilities, though more powerful than many can truly understand, never put into use without thought of the price there will always be to pay. Jora’s wise counsel and extensive knowledge have long distinguished her as a leader among her race, but it is her patience and unending compassion which truly set her apart as capable to guide the worlds into harmony and peace.
Upon first glance, Talia is the sort of girl that anyone would consider rather ordinary. Her childhood was a happy one, Talia’s every spare moment spent scribbling over any paper she could get her hands on, the years that followed only furthering her love for expressing her vast imagination through art. Paint or pencil, charcoal or marker, if Talia could think it, she could create it. But of anything she loved to portray, her greatest love was for the night sky. Stars had always fascinated her, Talia’s insatiable curiosity for them earning her the nickname “little star gazer” from her mother. They were a tight-knit pair, Talia and her mother, especially considering that they were all the family each other had. Being a single parent, raising Talia had been an adventure, but never an unwelcome one. Her mother sacrificed a lot for their little family, working hard to put Talia through college. It was a sacrifice that was not about to go overlooked. Talia was determined to perfect her artistic endeavors, hoping that her efforts would someday come to fruition to offer up the life she had always dreamed of for herself and for her mother. But no one, not even Talia herself, could yet understand just how truly extraordinary this ordinary girl was or the incredible destiny that would soon unfold to change her life forever.
Sebastian, prince and heir to his father’s throne in one of the center-most of the nine realms, Bash is a credit to his kingdom. His fierce loyalty, courageous heart, and determined spirit inspire many in their anticipation of the day he will ascend the throne. Trained in the sword from youth, Bash also showed great interest in the bow, his hands clearly skilled in any weapon he so chooses. Despite his father’s discouragement of pursuing archery, the prince spends a majority of every day perfecting the craft through hunting and competition. Well educated, a proficient leader, and adept warrior, though seamlessly able to appear perfectly content, Bash’s happiness is simply the mask he wears. Years of experience has taught him to play the dutiful son and prince rather well, but those closest to him know how greatly he longs after a more normal life, the peasant life.
In a time when most animals are seen only for their ability to be useful to their human friends and masters, a lowly squirrel like QB would easily be overlooked. Playful but a bit aloof at times, friendly yet always wary, QB’s unparalleled loyalty was tried and proven true when his undiscovered potential caught the eye of Jora. It was during the age of bloodshed, a time when the Realms were inundated in the seemingly endless plagues of war. Jora saw a purpose in QB, his inconspicuous presence proving vital to the secretive messages the winged guardian passed between her allies at his hand. Once the fighting had come to an end, Jora did not wish to lose the friendship of her companion, placing him in the path of a young man named Jarrett. She had plans for this street-smart orphan, knowing perfectly how well he and QB would be able to work together. Having felt that he never truly fit in anywhere, QB found new joy for life in his travels with Jarrett, the two sharing many mishaps and trivial adventures together. The two are nearly inseparable now, for theirs is a friendship destined for greatness, the kind one would not expect of those starting from the humblest of origins.
Maren, a warrior by blood and by trade, her fierce determination makes her a dangerous enemy, but a loyal ally. Born in the southern-most lands of the nine realms, she was raised to be a leader and an example to her people like her father before her, but it was not to last. Sent away by the very villages she called home, Maren is determined to regain the respect of her people, working as the eyes, ears, and hands of Jora wherever she is most needed. Even though her skills in a fight should never be underestimated, Maren’s strength lies just as much in her vast knowledge of the realms as it does in any of her physical accomplishments. With both mind and body at work, she is not one to be trifled with.
I’ve had a heap of fun creating this little illustrated series on my Instagram account @whimsicalillustration – finished up yesterday with my last lady in the series the Spartan Queen Gorga! Thought it would be fun it share with you these last six famous historical gals!
Women were usually omitted from any Greek historian’s work (they were not “worth” mentioning) but amazingly enough Gorga is not only mentioned but also even quoted! This means she must have been truly notable and impossible to ignore. There are no descriptions or art depictions of her so she is completely concocted from my imagination. (Image background is an ancient Greek statue.)
The Irish Pirate Queen – Grace O Malley! This is a pretty fascinating 16th c lady! Her story is long so to sum it up here would be too much but if you get a chance you should definitely go read about her!
Had to be a little patriotic… 😁🇨🇦 Chose to draw one of Canada’s most beloved authors, L.M. Montgomery. Ever heard of ‘Anne of Green Gables’? This is the author! Her novels and characters were a memorable part of my childhood.
Margaret Fuller, journalist and critic during the 1800s. She was an advocate for women’s rights (especially for jobs and education). She also encouraged many other reforms in society, including prison reform and the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Impressive and ambitious objectives for a lady of her day!
The funny thing about this beautiful queen is that she is better known and remembered than her pharaoh husband. They ruled together during ancient Eygpt’s most prosperous period. Considered to be heretics because they revamped the Eygptian religion down to the worship of only one god. After her husband’s death there is some possibility that she ruled as pharaoh herself too for a short time.
I could pick a dozen artists out of history that I admire but Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926) is by far my favourite.
She lived an extraordinary life for a woman of her time. The affluence and mobility of her family provided her with the ability to chose her destiny more freely. At an early age she set out to become more than the typical “lady painter”, she wanted equality and she pursued an art career in the world of men. She was born in the US and lived most of her adult life in France where she became connected with the Impressionists and also many other famous artists of the day. It is admirable that Cassatt pursued a career in a vocation dominated by men but even more admirable that she did not do so in a typical fashion. She stepped outside of the popular subject matter and art styles of the day and chose to reflect and celebrate the domestic lives of women using new impressionistic art techniques.
I’ve been working through this illustration series on my Instagram account ( @whimsicalillustration ) and thought it might be super fun to share it with you here. I’ve not yet finished the series (more to come so be sure to follow on Instagram) but I’ve been doing portraits of famous historical women in a manga illustrated style. My first gal was Emelia Earhart – the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic – no small feat in her day! –>
Couldn’t resist drawing Jane Austen next, she is one of my favourite authors and if you’ve never read her books it’s high time you did!
Joan of Arc – divinely inspired warrior – heroine of France – martyred Saint. (You can read all about her on Wikipedia 😉). I was fascinated by her story when I was a kid – especially because she lead armies of men when she was only a teenager! (Pssst… I have no idea if she had blonde hair and blue eyes – I just made that up – I know, I know not very historically accurate. 😅)
Okay, so maybe not the most inspirational woman in history but definitely very memorable – Marie Antoinette! “Let them eat cake.”
Queen Elizabeth I – The Virgin Queen! Ruled unmarried for 44 years in an era when many Kings could not keep their thrones! (Pssst… This was the Elizabethan Era – Shakespeare’s day!)
Sacagawea – strong inspirational woman! She traveled thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean as a guide for Lewis and Clark. Along the way making cultural connections and researching natural history.