I first visited Ocean Park in 2013 and delighted in the warm community there. Last week I returned to meet new friends and share a bit of my world and working methods. I spoke in Jordan Hall, and was surprised when Daisy, my daughter who inspires much of my work, showed up with her friend Jonathan, who has spent many fond summers at Ocean Park.

I included this series of photos to show my process of creating a single illustration for Here Come the Humpbacks! by April Pulley Sayre.

First I sketch into the layout provided by the publisher’s designer, in this case Martha Sikkema of Charlesbridge Publishing. I work loosely in pencil but need to work around the text blocks.

Next I trace over the approved sketch, twice. On the back side of the paper, I trace in charcoal pencil.

Then I use orange colored pencil to scribble over the front of the tracing paper so the charcoal line on the back side of the tracing paper will transfer, ever so lightly, to my pastel paper. Think of it as my handmade carbon paper. Then I have a somewhat faint but correctly placed outline of my composition. Because of text placement, I can’t lose track of my areas of lights and darks.

Then I draw the composition again (fourth time if you are counting) onto the pastel paper, which is covered in finely ground cork and feels pretty much like sandpaper.

Next I begin applying pastel in areas. I like to work on colored ground, the cool colors of the ocean pop off the warm background.

I work in the areas of contrast so I keep the whole scene in a balance of light and dark areas.

Notice my octopus reference in the upper right, as I go into final details.

This is the final, which illustrated the hazards migrating humpbacks encounter, including plastics and trash.

After my slideshow, everyone gathered to choose from the drawing materials I brought, along with nature objects and plastic toy sea creatures for observational drawing.

This artist captured the distinct pattern of the turtle shell. She also told me her family drives from Minnesota to Ocean Park and it takes them 21 hours!

Her younger brother drew this lovely full moon reflecting over a blue ocean.

Another little boy was paying close attention to the markings of contrast in a squeaky seal.

His little brother, perhaps 4, had chosen a life-like lobster to draw. His energetic marks have simplified the shapes to their essence!

This artist thoroughly embraced the blending of pigment, making a vigorous drawing of a turtle reaching for the light.

I met Deb Macleod, a preschool teacher in love with giraffes. She captured something adorable here.

I’m always delighted when all ages come together to partake of the joys of drawing. Thank you, Ocean Park Association, for the visit, and to Lori Littlefield, Ocean Park Memorial Library’s summer librarian. She helped set up my display and sold books for me, too!

I waved goodbye to Jon and Daisy so I could make the last ferry to Peaks.



  1. You are inspiration to everyone! Great BLOG, Jamie Hogan!

  2. Jamie
    As always, fascinating. I plan to show this (your process) to my budding- artist- 10- year- old granddaughter. I know she’ll love the sea creatures!

    • Your granddaughter IS a budding artist, and she gets her talent from you! Thanks for your kind words.

  3. Love, love, love this blog! Sweet memories of Seven Days of Daisy from so long ago. What a gift.

    You make so much fun Jamie from sharing your process in illustrating so many lovely books. You give a glimpse into how a book comes to life and what’s involved in making it a reality. It’s called ‘engaging’ and you do it so well.

    Lucky kids & teachers who get to share in the fun, creative world of bringing a story to life in book form.

    Please keep doing what you are doing – making the world a better place by delighting and educating!

    • Peg, I love your kind words! I am blessed to know you and to meet cool folks in my bookish travels.

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