Owl Girl

Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in Children's Book Illustration, pastels | 2 comments

I illustrated the book jacket for Mary Atkinson’s Owl Girl, a middle grade chapter book about a young girl’s difficult summer at her grandparent’s lakeside camp. As soon as I heard the title, I was intrigued.

1owlgirl_blogHolly, the main character, is drawn into the Maine woods by the mysterious call of a barred owl. I tried several variations of this. Same idea, but farther removed.


Maybe we need to see more of her face, and the owl shows up on her t-shirt.

4owlgirl_blogOr perhaps the owl should be in his habitat, with Holly in as a minor figure.

5owlgirl_blogThe binoculars play a part in the story. Perhaps just a glimpse of Holly and the owl in flight.


Or maybe we don’t see Holly’s face at all, but there’s a full moon.

7owlgirl_blogWhat if the title is part of the owl, and there’s no Holly at all?

8owlgirl_blogPreliminary sketches are all about exploring different angles. It turned out Mary liked the first one best, and I did as well. Here’s my color rough, made by copying my sketch onto blue paper and using Prismacolor pencils to sketch out the highlights.


Here’s the final, done on sanded paper with pastels.


I met up with Mary in late September to grab a couple of copies, published by Maine Authors Publishing.


Like Mary, I have a thing for owls; they are fascinating and beautiful. Native American wisdom holds that owls can see what others cannot. They can see through deception, and are often symbols of wisdom.

I drew a snowy owl for a holiday card a couple of years ago, when they were spotted on the backshore of Peaks Island.


Mary will be signing copies of Owl Girl at Books N’ Things in Norway, Maine on December 12 from 1 – 3 PM.

You could make it an entire owlish day and afterwards head to Maine Audubon for their program, Eyes on Owls.

As for me, I’ll be at the Portland Public Library’s Wake Up Alice! show this First Friday, December 4, along with other artists in the show. I’ll be signing books, too. Hoot!



  1. So nice to meet you, Jamie, and to see your process in illustrating Mary Atkinson’s Owl Girl. I adore your cover! I also love the book. You and Mary make a great team!

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