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I’ve always liked maps. They tell you where you’ve been – or better yet, where you might go.
Before there was MapQuest or Google Maps there was the Thomas Guide, a hefty, seemingly indecipherable, yet indispensable tome of colorful road maps. Mine was gifted to me by my parents on my 16th birthday along with my first car, a 1972 Volkswagen Bug. Weighing in at three pounds and measuring over an inch thick mine only covered San Diego County, but in an era before cell phones it saved my rear more times than I like to admit. My Thomas Guide rode under the driver’s seat of that Bug and several others before it met its ultimate demise. I kept it far longer than it was useful. MapQuest’s printable turn-by-turn instructions knocked the books’ usefulness to its knees, Google Maps and the Apple iPhone severed its head altogether.
Although the Thomas Guide was practical I always preferred those with, well, a little more imagination. As a kid that meant the park maps handed out at Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, or Wild Rivers. I enjoyed plotting my adventures along the colorful pathways and trying to figure out what attractions changed since my last “adventure”.
During our last meeting, Kevin, the author I have been collaborating with, and I decided that our book needed a map. After sketching out a ( very ) rough draft with him I returned home and pondered what such a map should look like. I decided it needed to be practical, like a Thomas Brother’s Guide, but also fun like the park maps handed to me at amusement parks. This is what I came up with. If it makes you smile, I succeeded. If not, well, at least I tried!
Oh! Any my daughter, Ashley, helped me with the design and color for this one. I’ll make an artist out of her yet!
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life …
Previous : Spiders!
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I am in awe by how much work goes into the writing of a book. There’s the book itself – and then there’s all of the world building that takes place behind the scenes. World building is the history, characters backstories, creatures, cities – basically everything that goes into creating a believable world, or “atmosphere” in which the story takes place. It’s “frustratingly fun” to conjure up – frustrating in that much of the generated content may be omitted entirely in the actual book, but incredibly fun to dream up. My friend, Kevin, the author, and I are having a great time.
Here’s an excerpt from the book for which the above illustration was created. I hope you like it.
There was a loud crack of thunder and lightning beamed down from the sky brightening everything in the trees around them. Jalapeña and Raven looked at one another with wide eyes, realizing for the first time that they weren’t alone.
“Are those spiders,” asked Jalapeña?
“ Um yeah, Uh I think so? What should we do?”
“Just keep walking and hope we can see better when the lighting strikes again.” Jalapeña couldn’t believe what she had seen and Raven didn’t seem too sure about the spiders either. The sky suddenly lit up brightly and thunder shook through the treetops. They could both see clearly now, hundreds of bright red eyes glowed in the light. The spiders were getting closer and it was clear they were as big as the two girls, maybe bigger.
Jalapeña screamed, first a loud screech and the “RUUUUUNNNN!” Raven was already running ahead of her. Jalapeña started to run but was quickly pulled upward by something and swung forward through the trees.
At the next crack of lightning, she could see that she was swinging above where Raven was running and she continued moving forward as if on a pendulum. “Raven!” she screamed. She didn’t think Raven had heard her, the rain was now coming even harder and in large drops, the size of golf balls, splashing off of everything and causing small rivers and waterfalls to form all around them. The next lightning bolt Jalapeña saw Raven continuing to run along the muddy trail, not too far below her. What she saw ahead of her was even more terrifying than the spiders; a giant wall of water was rushing down the trail, pushing trees down ahead of it. It was headed right for Raven but there was nothing Jalapeña could do but yell futilely as the noise was now far too loud to hear or be heard…
( To be continued )
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life …
Previous : Jalapeña
Next : A Map
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A few months ago my friend, Kevin, asked if I would help him illustrate a book he had been working on. The book is based on a collection of stories he had told to his daughter, Clara, at bedtime and over long plane flights to keep her preoccupied. The stories tell the story of “Jalapeña”, an 8-year-old red-headed troll and her human friend, “Raven”, as they go on a series of adventures. Kevin shared his manuscript with me and, although I really enjoyed the story, I was hesitant to illustrate it. His story was epic. It contained a huge cast of characters and creatures and traversed a wide variety of places over different time periods.
“You know”, I told Kevin, “I’ve never done this before!”
“…I’ve just drawn comics…”, I continued, before he could interrupt. “… and, it’s almost a given that my artwork will improve as the book progresses. The illustrations might be inconsistent!”
“That’s okay!”, he replied, calmly.
In that instant I realized that Kevin and I were in the same boat. He wasn’t a professional writer any more than I was a professional artist. It’d be a learning process for both of us.
And then I smiled.
“Okay then.”, I said.
“Let’s do it.”
The experience so far has been nothing short of awesome…
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life …
Next : Spiders!
#JalapenaBook #DadsWritingBooks #DadsBookClub #BeCreative #Illustration #KidsBooks #KidsFantasyBooks #MythicalCreatures #BookLover #ILoveBooks #DrawnAndCoded
“Are there any tests available yet?”, Jodie asked me.
“No, not yet. I’ll check again tomorrow.”, I replied, discouraged.
“I’m going to forget everything before I get a chance to be tested on it!”, I continued.
“Same here.”, Jodie smiled
It would be almost three months from the point I finished studying for my California real estate agent exam to when I was actually allowed to be tested on it. The testing centers were either closed or restricting the flow of candidates to a small trickle. Thank you, COVID.
Fortunately, I passed.
Over a year ago my wife, Jodie, decided to get her brokers license. She started in real estate over ten years ago right after our oldest daughter was born. She had done really well, too, building relationships and selling and buying homes all over San Diego.
“Well, what if I get my agent license, too? Then I can help you out – maybe hold open houses or something.”, I offered.
I smiled back. In real estate, agents work “under” a broker. My wife would essentially be my boss.
“Unless you have something against sleeping with your employees?”, I smiled.
“Nope”, she laughed back.
So we studied together. Then, after we were done studying, we waited together for exam spots to open up. It took me almost a year. It took her even longer because, to become a broker, she had to prove her work experience, a process that took forever due to the glacial pace of the Department of Real Estate weighted down by COVID restrictions.
Jodie passed, too.
We threw around names for a while and decided on “Vandervort Realty”. Over the years I’ve realized my last name can be a bitch to spell for newbies, but instantly memorable – if only because it’s a bitch to spell. It would be perfect for a company name – as long as we didn’t have to create any musical jingles to go with it.
The company logo proved trickier.
Initially Jodie wanted to go with a design she had found on Etsy, but I insisted on designing one for her. Illustration and graphic design has become my “thing” over the last few years, just as real estate hers.
“I work cheap.”, I told her. “You can pay me in vegan brownies!”
“Deal!”, she said.
We went through countless revisions. The endeavor expanded into a business card, listing sign, and Facebook Page, too. But finally the day came.
“I like it.”, she admitted.
“Really, so we’re done?”, I asked, stunned.
“Yeah”, she smiled, “Well, for now…”
“Good”, I smiled. “You have a lot of baking to do, you know.”
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Vandervort Realty is a family-owned real estate brokerage located in sunny San Diego. We pride ourselves on making relationships, not sales. Our goal is to educate people to help them make the best decisions in any market. For more information you can contact me here on DrawnAndCoded, or visit our Facebook Page.
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My cousin Paul and his wife April just launched a new BBQ Sauce, “Daddy’s BBQ Sauce”. The BBQ Sauce is based upon a family recipe handed down by April’s grandfather. Paul and April have served it for years at family gatherings in their backyard on smoked and grilled meats. Before I eliminated meat from my diet due a prostate cancer diagnosis I looked forward to it’s unique sweet taste and how it caramelized on the meat. Without sounding like a hypocrite, it’s delicious.
I might seem like the last person that should be promoting a BBQ sauce, but I want to be the first to support my cousins’ endeavor because I believe in it. It’s good. So good that I volunteered to create a logo for them to support them. Over the next few months they’ll be promoting “Daddy’s BBQ Sauce” on a road trip across the United States. If you see them, tell them their cousin Scott said, “Hi!”, and pick up a bottle.
“Daddy’s BBQ Sauce” is also available on their online store.
I used Clip Art Studio, Gimp, and ultimately, Inkscape to render the logo. The logo went through several iterations, each focusing on a caricature of April’s grandfather. Some of the other finalists are below, but most people I talked to favored the “laid back” demeanor pictured above.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life. Try “Daddy’s BBQ Sauce” ( you’ll love it )!
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