“Artist” or “Introducing Wilderhark’s Shapes-and-Colorsmith”

Those of you who have received Seven Swans a-Winning prizes from me (which I think is all or most of those who should have, right? I’ve seen some happy photos via Facebook and Twitter ^-^) may have noticed the gorgeous set of bookmarks that came with your goodies. Certainly, you’ve all seen the beautiful cover of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales”, right?

Well, the same talented “one who practices an art; especially, one who creates objects of beauty” is behind all of the above. I came across her lovely gallery on DeviantArt (feast your eyes!), messaged her a pitch about creating my “Wilderhark Tales” art, crossed my fingers and mumbled prayers. Receiving her “yes” was almost as exciting as a contract offer from a publisher (which, thanks to J. Taylor Publishing, is a feeling I’ve come to know). Gazing at the work she’s done for me never fails to put a smile in my heart. And today, I am sooooo happy to present to you… an interview with Yana Naumova!

Yana ID

Me: Introduce yourself to the readers, if you please!

Yana: Hello! My name is Yana Naumova, I’m 25, and I live in the beautiful city of Samara in Russia.

Me: When did you decide you wanted to create art professionally, and how did you get started?

Yana: I was very fond of painting since childhood, and I devoted all my free time to this occupation. I’ve always had a lot of albums and notebooks completely filled with various drawings. I imagined drawing whole books with fantastic stories that consist only of pictures. My parents always encouraged my interest in creativity; they often drew and sculpted with me in the evenings. My father told me various stories about the artists and about the time he went to art school. I think it had a great influence on who I am now.

At the age of ten, my parents sent me to a children’s art school. There I learned the basics of drawing and got an idea what I would be faced with if I chose the artist’s profession. I caught a good teacher who encouraged pupils to experiment. At 16, I entered the Pedagogical University to the fine arts. Getting an art education has become for me a solid foundation in my artistic development, and prepared me to move on to independence.

Me: What is your creative process like?

Yana: My creative process from the external point of view is quite simple – I just sit and draw something, sometimes at my working place, sometimes on my bed. From inside it resembles dreams – I’m trying to grasp suitable forms and lines, to determine the color, to convey feelings and mood, as if you create or unravel the mystery of a series of characters/symbols.

Me: What are your favorite subjects to paint/draw, and why?

Yana: I love to experiment with methods and techniques of drawing, but most of all I like to paint landscapes and fairy scenes; I like to create illustrations for the stories. This process fascinates me!

Me: How would you describe your style?

Yana: This is a hard question. I can only identify the main lines of my work, which were formed under the influence of Art Nouveau and symbolism.

Doctor Villem Deere, Sula, and Sigmund, in a triptych of bookmark glory.
Doctor Villem Deere, Sula, and Sigmund, in a triptych of bookmark glory.

Me: ( It was her work’s Art Nouveau-esque qualities that first caught my eye. It’s just what I wanted for depicting Wilderhark!) What has it been like collaborating with me on the “Wilderhark Tales” project? (*sweats bullets awaiting my performance review*)

Yana: Taking part in this project was fun and easy for me. I was really inspired by the characters and story, and we’ve got comfortable and fascinating discussion of the characters. You have created the most favorable conditions for my creative work, and your comments and remarks were very appropriate.

Me: (Hooray! I’m so pleased to hear it. ^-^) Which of the “Swan Prince” characters did you most enjoy bringing to visual life?

Yana: I can’t choose, I think that I loved to draw them all 🙂 I liked to draw Doctor Deere’s face, trying to express his thoughtfulness and calmness. It was fun to work with ‘plumpness’ of characters; at first I somewhat succumbed to the stereotype that all fantasy characters should be skinny and starving 😉 It was quite refreshing to look at corrected/finished picture of Sula.

(MeSula may or may not take that as a compliment. XD But I certainly do!)

Y: One more thing – some days after I drew Sigmund, I entered your gallery and was amused that one of his pictures resembled my work a lot (his pose and appearance). I’m sure that I didn’t see this work before.

Me: (I was tickled by the similarities, too! Click here to compare for yourselfif you like, readers. It’s such a joy to have my characters’ selves shine through in the work of another artist – especially an artist with so much more skill than I’ve got!)

Thank you so much for agreeing to let my readers meet you, Yana! (Double brownie points for answering all my nosy questions in a secondary language; her mad skillz trump mine again, folks!) And while I’ve already thanked you a hundred times for your Wilderhark drawings, prepare to be thanked a hundred times more, from me and my outstandingly-rendered characters, too! After all, we’ve still got five more novellas to go… (:

“Illustration” or “A Couple Thousand Words are Worth Some Pictures”

Long before Danielle E. Shipley was a fantasy novelist and short story scribe, she was a picture-book author. Her (or rather, “my”, since narration in the third-person ends now) first literary projects, painstakingly crafted via children’s PC writing software, were only minimally about words, and might even never include any beyond the title. An actual story was all very well, but I was really just in it for the pictures.

            Obviously, things have changed. Nowadays, I’ll typically put out a few ten-thousand words before I create so much as a piece of fan art. My primary concern is to take what’s in my head and reproduce in yours via description and dialogue and something else that begins with a “D”, because I like alliterative lists of three. As the poet said, “I should be painting this masterpiece with words / Creating colors from adjectives and verbs / Every brushstroke should be a keystroke / Make you feel that you’re seeing what you’ve heard.” (The poet being me, the complete poem to be found here.) I am a writer, first and foremost.

           But I’m a visual artist, too.

            I’ve entertained brief fantasies of being an author/creator of “visual matter used to clarify or decorate a text” – a phenomenon most often seen in children’s books, but by no means always.

“The Plucker”, written and illustrated by Brom, is about the last thing you’d want to read to your little ones at bedtime. I read it in my young-adulthood, and the scars have yet to fade.

Quite honestly, though, I’m not sure how well Author Me and Illustrator Me would get along together. Author Me sees her work a certain way – a way that would take superior skill to render to her satisfaction. And Illustrator Me, though talented within her own style, is no Brom, Brett Helquist, or some other illustrator whose name begins with “Br”.

            So I’d more or less given up on ever illustrating a published book. And apparently, I’d given up a wee bit early.

            “A Cuppa and an Armchair” – which, you may recall, totally rocked my world by including a short story of mine in their December 2011 publication – has another set of stories scheduled to go up for sale any day now. One of these stories will have been written by me. Another will have been illustrated by me. I guess the sample of work in my Deviant Art gallery was less than entirely off-putting, because I was tapped to put together some images for one of my fellow “Cuppa/Armchair” writers, and I got the impression that she was pleased with my offering.

            I’ll be sure to let you all know when my words and pictures launch – which will just go to illustrate that even largely abandoned dreams may yet come true.