A Final Peek Inside My Children’s Book, “A Birthday”

Okay… here’s the final sneak peek of my children’s book, A Birthday (until I begin painting another one). I’ve been working on the story and illustrations for more than two decades, and although I have a lot of work ahead of me, I’m excited to head back to the drawing board—literally!

A Birthday follows the story of Emma, a little old lady who is alone on her birthday. I created the book based on a student film I did that caught the attention of Disney Animation Studios back in 1987.

So far, I’ve shared four of the five illustrations I’ve completed for the book. I think I completed this last illustration after I did the ones of Young Emma and Old Emma, but it’s been so long, and of course —I didn’t put a date on the back. When I look at this illustration, it’s like the telephone piece—something just isn’t right!

Brenda Chapman A Birthday

I’m setting it aside to work on the rest—and if I have the energy, I’ll go back into it…or I’ll simply be relieved that I have something for each page! If it takes me another 20 years, I’ll just be happy it’s done!!

All of the illustrations for A Birthday were done with acrylic—so far, no computers involved. I love the tactile feel of using paint with a brush, but I’m sure Photoshop would be WAY faster! I’m a glutton for punishment, to coin a cliché. Still, there’s something immensely satisfying about looking back at these illustrations and knowing they were created by hand.

Now that I’ve shared my work in progress with you, I’d better get back to the drawing board. And in the meantime, I’d love to hear what project is on your high-priority list to finish. We’d all like to know we’re not alone, right?

  • Love the illustration! Thank you so much for giving us all some sneak peaks!

    No big project in the works for me at the moment. Right now, my priority is to create a lot of really short animations (3-5 seconds). It’ll help me improve quicker and I’ll have some new pieces for my demo reel!

    • Brenda Chapman

      Hope I get to see your shorts!

      • I will definitely share them with you! 🙂

        • brendachapman

          I look forward to it. xo

  • Claudia


    • Claudia

      I am sorry! I made a mistake ;P silly me!
      I shall continue the comment! LOL.
      Okay, like I said on Facebook already…this looks wonderful! this illustration it’s my favorite…particularly, I love Emma’s expression on this one ;D
      AND acrylics! wow…I must say that I love to use them (: but watercolors are my favorites! ;D
      Also, I wanna read this story! yesh, I wanna read it.

      ammm…big projects? maybe finish my career. If I can finish it in less than 4 years, I am sure that I can start with Animation.

      • Brenda Chapman

        I’m so glad you like it!… Maybe that will help me like it a little better. 🙂
        You keep going… I’ll cheer you on! 🙂

  • I love it! Is it me or does she look a little like you would if you were little?

    I don’t know about personal projects but at the moment i’m learning water colour and it’s tricky. This means I keep thinking of reasons not to do it. I gotta just keep going until it’s easier.

    I look forward to seeing more of your book!

    • brendachapman

      Thank you!

      Oo! Watercolor! I’m scared of that, too. You should look up Kathy Altieri’s work. She does amazing watercolors! She’s a production designer at DreamWorks.

  • Christa buxton

    lovely illustrated, good luck and God bless.

    • brendachapman

      Thank you so much. xo

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