Thursday, April 5, 2012
Signal Mountain portrait artist Michele Anderson has expanded her list of occupations to include children’s book illustrator with the recent release of “The Humongous Fungus,” now available at Wild Hare Books and Amazon.com.
The book’s authors, former Signal Mountain resident Jennifer Youngblood and her mother Sandra Poole, who together under the pen name “Periwinkle Blue,” decided to collaborate with Anderson on the project after fellow soccer mom Youngblood met her on the sidelines.
When she committed to doing the book, Anderson said completing the 30 drawings required from her within a three-month period was more work than she had initially imagined.
“I usually do very realistic portraits,” said Anderson, who has been working with portrait agencies out of Raleigh, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala., for 13 years. “This was more challenging because I had to get away from realism and get more into the characters.”
Working with authors who have their own vision of the characters was also difficult for the illustrator. She said she would submit sketches via email for the authors to approve or suggest improvements.
“It’s full of really fun characters,” said Anderson, adding that keeping the characters consistent throughout the book was the most difficult aspect of illustrating. “I think it will be a good message for children to read.”
Kindness is the main theme of the story, set in the town of Better-Than-Best, where people begin to flock for its many positive attributes. The people become unkind to each other and a “humongous fungus” takes over the town, which starts to go away when the townspeople start acting with kindness, she said.
Anderson and Periwinkle Blue are already planning a new project, and Anderson said she would eventually like to try writing a story herself.
“I’d love to do some animal stories, and I’ve thought about doing seasonal books with pretty drawings and paintings,” she said.
Anderson plans to share her talents with others in the coming months at her home, where she will have painting workshops this summer as well as an open house to display her art in late May.