It's cicada season in Maryland, and the sound of their rattle makes me feel like I'm home, wherever I hear it. This year, the 17-year cicadas are out, and the sound is deafening. They are the kings of summer, leaving their perfect shells behind like so many relics of kings of old.
"The King of Summer" Jessica Boehman, Summer 2020, mixed media.
"Diogmites Neoternatus (robber fly)" Digital drawing.
A robber fly that I found in my parents' backyard in Maryland. They hang by the foreleg as they consume their prey: other insects.
I was thinking recently about the nature of unconditional love, and I thought of Prince Lir from Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. He's a bit of an unsung character in the book, but one of my favorites as he grows into a man due to love.
"I saw that she was something more than what I could see. Unicorn, mermaid, lamia, sorceress, Gorgon--no name you could give her would surprise me, or frighten me. I love whom I love."
"Lir and the Unicorn" by Jessica Boehman. Colored pencil, pencil, and digital. July 2020.
I'm very honored to have been chosen as the IPPY Independent Publishers Book Awards Gold Medalist for Picture Books (Under age 7 group). I was also a finalist for the ForeWard Indy Book Awards for Picture Books! Thanks to ForeWard and to the Ippy's! I couldn't be more honored that you liked my first book. #IPPY2020
So, it's a weird story, but a true one:
I haven't slept well or soundly for about nine months. My insomnia started in August 2019 and has kept up its vicious pattern doggedly and insistently.
During the last months of shelter-in-place, enduring a solo quarantine in the COVID epicenter, literally surrounded by a horrendous amount of death and fear, on top of the increased stress of teaching four different classes online, I found that my insomnia worsened, and I realized I would go crazy if I didn't find a solution. So I started drawing at nighttime. Drawing before bed usually helps, and most of the pictures are not anything that was for work, just something to calm my mind.
One such drawing, "Sleep", I made as an offering and a wish. In my online post I hoped that it would "bring on the Sandman."
But...the thing is, it did. First of all, I slept soundly that night for the first time in a long while.
Secondly, I woke up with this in my head, fully formed. And the main character? The Sandman, Dream, Morpheus...(a creation of Neil Gaiman for his comic series of the same name.). I had literally "brought him on." So, I woke up and immediately sketched out the story so it wouldn't fade away, as dreams do. But that, too, did not fade. It was a gift. So, thanks, Sandman, and Neil Gaiman, for the rest. I think the Sandman must be real. This was how that character looked in my own mind.
(Made during weeks 9 and 10 of COVID-19 shelter-in-place, Queens, NY).
"Bring Me a Dream" Jessica Boehman, Watercolor and digital. Lettering by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. May 2020. See more details here.
Based on the copyrighted character of The Sandman created by Neil Gaiman.
Do not reproduce. Not for sale.
As I work on book #2, which I can't share, I have been spending a little time here and there dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, social isolation, living in what was the epicenter for about 6 weeks, and the illness and death of people I know. Drawing helps. Here's the first of the batch: there's sure to be more.
Because we all, for the good of humanity as a whole, are sheltering inside, and because many of you have asked for prints of this that I cannot give you at this time, I've made a free to download coloring book page for you. All I ask is that you send me the finished pictures to brighten my day.
Please, stay safe. Wash your hands, tell your loved ones they are loved, and stay alive. For me?
The Children's Book Council has made available lots of coloring book pages from illustrators of picture books and comics. The 2020 theme was "Read, Dream, Share."
Since we're under social isolation, why not print some out and have your kids color them? Heck, you can color them, too. You can even download the full coloring book by scrolling to the bottom.
This is mine, made back in the winter when life was cozy and nice. (The downloadable version lost some line work, somehow, but it should still do.)
Hans-My-Hedgehog Illustrations is the name of Jessica Boehman's blog and illustration shop. It is named after her favorite fairy tale about a hedgehog boy who becomes king of the forest. All other pages redirect to: