Hello, my name is Christina Rodriguez, and I illustrate award-winning children’s books. Today I’m going to use my guest post on The Bluestocking Guide to tell you about one of best perks of the job – using folks I know as models in my illustrations and creating other special details.
When I was first contracted to work on The Wishing Tree, I was really excited to pay homage to the military lifestyle in which I grew up. As a former Air Force “brat,” I had a wealth of experiences to draw from. I started first and foremost with how I wanted Amanda, the main character, to look. The text described many images of yellow ribbons, so I wanted the color to be very symbolic throughout the book, including painting the main character with yellow (blonde) hair. From there, the choice of model was easy: a blonde girl who is like a little sister in my heart, my friend Yelena.
I have known Yelena’s family for nearly 20 years. Her father was in the Marines and had been deployed several times, and her eldest sister Alecia has been my best friend since sixth grade. I still remember when Yelena was in a high chair, and even though she’s all grown-up now, the age I painted her in the book is probably how I’ll always remember her.
The hat that Yelena/Amanda wears in the opening scene is my father’s from his time in the Air Force. The new military uniforms sport a “digital camo,” but I wanted to show the uniform style that I grew up with:
Finally, I love to paint my husband in my books (check him out as the guy steering the ship in Storm Codes), and if I hadn’t become an artist, I would’ve followed in my father’s footsteps and enlisted. Those who know me well have been amused by my living vicariously through the homecoming scene. I used one of our wedding photos as reference:
Thank you all for reading today, and special thanks to Brooke for letting me have a guest post on her lovely blog. The Wishing Tree was recently awarded a Gold Medal in the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards and is available in bookstores and on Amazon.