Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whiskey and Water

About a week and a half ago, as I sat in a panel at Illuxcon, something amazing happened: an email landed in my inbox from Elizabeth Bear, about doing a cover for an ebook version of her novel Whiskey and Water - to go live October 4th.

For those of you who don't know, I've been a big fan of Elizabeth Bear and her books for years - those of you who've been with me for a while might remember that two years ago, as pieces for school, I painted mock covers for several of her novels, Whiskey and Water included. The deadline for this was insane, but there was no way I wasn't taking the job.

That evening, I thumbnailed while waiting on line to get my Showcase table, surrounded by great artists, friends, who were excited to help me bounce ideas around.

I sent Bear this thumbnail the next day, on Saturday. On Sunday, I collared Drew Baker just before he was about to leave, and took my reference.

At this point, between the incredible weekend of Illuxcon and the fact that I was working on my first book cover commission, for Elizabeth Bear, due in less than two weeks, I was more or less in a screaming panic - which is why this is the first drawing that I did:

This is where last week's SmART School class came in - and it is thanks to Rebecca Guay that what I turned over for Bear's approval was this instead:

I turned around revisions the next day, character details that I'd neglected or forgotten. I'm really, deeply grateful that this was a book that I'd read and gotten immersed enough in that even years later, I had a clear idea of who I was painting and what I wanted to show.

(Tattoos are hard. I had some specific things that the tattoos were - neo-tribal, mazelike or labyrinthine, intense blackwork - but since I'm not a tattoo artist and also not about to copy someone else's work, it brought me up kinda short. I'm very pleased with the design I wound up making, but that was probably the biggest single issue in this process that wasn't the 'Jenna is too overwhelmed to make good picturemaking decisions' moment from before.)

Those revisions were approved, and I went to the board, a week ago.

I painted small - a board 10" on the longest side - and I am still a little shellshocked that what I needed to have happened, happened: the paint went down as it needed to go down, the decisions I made were the correct ones, the painting built itself up and did not stop.

And on Sunday, I finished it.

It's time for me to stare at a wall until it penetrates that I finished my first cover, for my favorite author, in less than two weeks start to finish. I'll leave you all with how it will appear when it goes live on the 4th.


  1. Congratulations!! I get exactly the vibe you described from the tattoos, those hands are great and I love the water!