‘Strawberry Beach’ Book
I’m so very excited to share my newest project. I’m illustrating my first children’s book for Ken Block, lead singer of the band Sister Hazel. Ken wrote a beautiful, colorful, story about a beach, a ‘Strawberry Beach’.
Without giving too much away- it’s a magical, colorful place where the creatures of the beach look like fruit. This is Ken’s third book. He co-wrote a children’s book with Jett Beres, from his band, called “Starfish” and “Change Your Mind” , A Cymple Guide From Here To There co-written by Dave Neal who has been an integral part of this project as well. I’m really excited to be working with such a positive and creative team. Our meetings leave me feeling so inspired.
So… this is the first time I’ve been asked to illustrate a children’s book. This is a great challenge for me and has taken me far outside my comfort zone. The illustrations you see in my work generally come from what I see in the paint. This has been my creative process forever. It’s an intuitive way of working and there are no mistakes. I have a studio without pencils or erasers. I don’t sketch or plan when I work. I just paint. Then the paint tells me what to draw. Obviously with a project like this, that method just won’t work. So I bought some pencils, an eraser, a sketch book, and created many versions of page 1. The first page reads “There’s a pink sun rising that looks like a peach in the blueberry sky, over strawberry beach”. My first steps were figuring out the style, materials and color palette. I played with many different versions. It took about 6 weeks to settle on what the feel of the book would be. I knew it would be a mix of medias but I wasn’t sure exactly what that mix would be or what the color palette would be. I wasn’t even sure of the style yet. It could be anything. But my son Kaleb, the smartest person I know said “Mom, they asked you to make the book because they loved your work, so just do what you do”. But again, illustrating in this way is very new to me and it’s not “what I do”. SO how to do what I do but do it on purpose? And is that even possible? I also knew deciding on page 1 would set the tone for the whole book. No pressure there 🙂 So after many peaches, blueberries, strawberries, skies and oceans I was really happy with page 1!
Here’s a gallery of outtakes and sketches.
And this was my page 1 ->
The first collaborative compromise- The fruit cannot have faces 🙁 I loved the little strawberry creatures. At the constant reminder from a friend, I worked extra hard to make sure they were happy little strawberries too. Inviting and sweet. Not scary or sad. Another challenge for me but I’m noticing my creatures are starting to get sweeter as I get older. I like that. Ken and Dave loved the fruit creatures too. However, the book ends with a strawberry feast, so it was decided to remove the faces. We don’t want the kids witnessing a sweet strawberry massacre! 😮 Staying true to the C.Cambrea Art style I’ll definitely be hiding some creatures throughout the book. Kind of like a ‘Where’s Waldo’ but creature style.
At first I thought I’d just digitally remove the faces but it was just sad. They were faceless strawberry creatures. So I re-painted the entire section of strawberries and it added a lot of depth to the piece. It was a good call to make that tweak and I’m really happy with it. Maybe we’ll have a “Strawberry Beach” the unrated version 😉
Back to the drawing table. Sketches of take 2!