Hi all, I'm Pagan artist and writer Mickie Mueller. Deborah invited me here to tell you all about how I created the interior illustrations for her upcoming book (that we're all very excited about) "The Witches Broom!" Thanks Deborah!
It was a lovely October morning in 2013; the leaves outside my studio window were a golden orange, the same shade as the pumpkin on my porch. My old wooden art table was freshly cleared off from my previous project Mystical Cats Tarot, and I was all ready to begin work on illustrations for the delightful book, “The Witch’s Broom” by my friend Deborah Blake. I couldn’t have imagined a better time of year to pour over the witchy text and revel in the magic of broom lore!
I fell in love with the cover art designed by John Kachik, I kept a print out of it prominently displayed as inspiration. I wanted to make sure that I kept the cover art in mind while working on the interior illustrations. I felt that constant reminder of that cover would help retain continuity between the illustrations and the cover art. I must admit, that I also loved looking at it! The work on my art table that month was the best Samhain décor ever!
I gathered my supplies, for my interior illustrations I usually use a nice Bristol board with a super smooth surface. My handy Staedtler Pro Mechanical Pencil is my weapon of choice when rendering my sketches, it’s like my magic wand, I’ve been using this one that was gifted to me by my dad for years. Staedtler also makes a great line of pens that I love to use for inking, my Pigment Fineliner set of four (0.1mm, 0.3mm, 0.5mm, & 0.7mm) has been my go-to inking choice for the last several books I’ve illustrated.
My first step is to go through the call out sheet for the sizes and descriptions and also refer to the books manuscript for extra cues as to what to include in each illustration.
I lay out the sizes that I’ll need on the Bristol board, I “gang” them which means I will place several illustrations on a board, saving paper and time when they scan as well. I’m sure to label each illustration in pencil so that they know what goes where when they lay out the book.
First each illustration is sketched in pencil, then once approved by the Llewellyn art department and the editors; I begin inking over my penciled sketches.
Once everything is inked, I wait about half hour to make sure the ink is good and dry, and I go over it with a kneaded eraser to remove all the pencil. A half an hour is probably excessive, but all you have to do is smear one illustration, and you’re really careful after that! There is no white-out allowed in the process because it can show up in scans. You get one chance when inking to get it right!
When I saw the broom design Deborah described for a housewarming broom, I just had to include an unpacked box of books in the background. Having recently moved into a new home that August, I had lots of those boxes marked “books” all over the house, it was a bit of a family inside joke. I bet most Witches and Pagans have more boxes of books than anything else when they move too!
One of my favorite illustrations was the big splash page that spanned the first two pages in the book. I was asked to illustrate a fantastic magical broom shop. I saved it for last, like dessert! I dreamed of the vintage shopping district with cobblestone roads on Main Street in St. Charles Missouri where I have whiled away many hours shopping. I also imagined Diagon Ally from the Harry Potter books as well as every Pagan/Metaphysical shop I’ve ever visited. What I came up with is somewhere in between all those sources of inspiration, it’s a shop I would really like to visit.
I know you’ll enjoy The Witch’s Broom when you get it into your hot little hands, I sure can’t wait for my copy! Now you have a little idea of what went into each magical illustration waiting on its pages that sweep across the pages of Deborah Blake’s new magical book, “The Witch’s Broom!”
Blessings from the old wooden art table,
Mickie Mueller is an artist of Pagan myth and legend, creating images of faeries, gods, goddesses, witches, mages, and nature spirits. Both her art and writing have appeared in the Llewellyn periodicals. She is also the illustrator of The Well Worn Path and The Hidden Path decks and the writer/illustrator of The Voice of the Trees, A Celtic Ogham Oracle. Her latest illustration project, the upcoming Mystical Cats Tarot is coming May 2014.
Drop by her blog and see what's new at the old wooden art table http://www.mickiemuellerart.blogspot.com/