Tag Archives: painting

Bringing Books to Life – Painting Surviving Hope Covers

I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream – Vincent Van Gogh
I loved creating cover art for the Surviving Hope novels.
Picking up my paint brushes was an inspiration
as much as writing the books themselves.

Bringing Books to Life - Painting Surviving Hope Covers - The Last Krystallos

When the Surviving Hope novels: Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star, were rereleased, my new publisher BHC Press requested cover art in a similar style to A Symphony of Dragons.

4. A Symphony of Dragons Cover Art Evolution - Lisa Shambrook BHC Press

© Lisa Shambrook

I had to do something I’ve already done within my writing, and that was to find my art voice, my style. When I see an image in my head it’s like a photo, and I had to accept that the realism in my head was not what would end up on the canvas. My style is like my writing, swirly, romantic, and poetic, but mine.

I’d painted my Symphony dragon a year earlier and I set up an art studio on my dining room table and began sketching. The most testing thing was discovering how to paint rainbows. The majority of painted rainbows are bright childlike bows full of block colour and that wasn’t what I wanted. I had to find several tutorials to get an idea, and the trick is to stipple dry white paint across the arc of the bow before you build with colour. Rainbows are faint, translucent, and very difficult to capture! I was using acrylics, and with hindsight, as I’m currently painting in watercolour, a translucent media would have been easier.

Beneath the Rainbow Painting Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My rainbow is not a recreation of anyone else’s… it iridises with chalky pastel light above my bluebells. Bluebells feature within Freya’s story and the hours I spent breathing life into them were very enjoyable.

Beneath the Old Oak Painting Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak’s cover was always going to be an oak with acorns, and was my most confident subject. I’ve painted trees before, and the sturdy oak would protect Meg when life got unbearable. Acorns always represent new life and strength to me and it was comforting to paint them.

Beneath the Distant Star Painting Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then I had to create stars. It became my favourite painting, and after pages of failed dusk skies I finally got one that worked. Jasmine would stare up at the stars, trying to live up to her sister on one hand and battling to vanquish her memory on the other. I’ve stared up at many twinkling indigo skies trying to defeat my demons and harness wonder in much the same way in my own life.

Artists often lack confidence in their work and it wasn’t until I saw the covers, framed and titled, that I loved them. They brought the three books together, weaving the stories of three girls and their lives with the melody of hope.

Painting Seren Stone Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Right now I’m working on The Seren Stone Chronicles, and while the first book has been with beta readers I’ve been painting again. The Seren Stone covers will need to coordinate and follow my branding and I’m loving developing images for them. This time I’ve been working with watercolour instead of acrylics and it’s been beautiful to discover a forgiving and radiant medium to bring my dragons to life.

Surviving Hope and Symphony Paperbacks - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The Surviving Hope novels are available in eBook and paperback from most online retailers, all links are found on my website and at BHC Press. You can also buy signed and discounted paperbacks from my own Etsy shop, Amaranth Alchemy, too.

Three girls, three lives, three stories composed with the melody of hope.

Freya’s death sends ripples through many lives as Meg loses her best friend, and Jasmine, her sister. Lost dreams need to be found, hidden family secrets need to be unearthed, and grief must be embraced before ghosts can be laid to rest.

These beautifully composed tales of coming of age, mental health, and the struggles of finding yourself, begin with grief and culminate with hope. As grief is faced, hope becomes the only force to cling to and build upon. Freya, Meg, and Jasmine need to survive with hope.

Surviving Hope Novels - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

Colour, Crystals, and Writing

My writing is full of colour.
As a descriptive writer colour is important to convey
atmosphere, environment, and emotion.

So, while the first book in The Seren Stone Chronicles is with beta readers,
I’m painting and playing.

Colour, Crystals, and writing The Seren Stone Chronicles - The Last Krystallos

First off, crystals are inherent in my Welsh future. After apocalyptic events in our century many changes occur to the foundation and appearance of the earth, meaning that rocks and crystals take on new traits and qualities.

I like pretty things – that’s obvious – and I’ve been collecting crystals and gems for years. I’ve done a fair bit of research into crystal therapy and it interests me greatly. If we believe in molecular power then why not in the vibration and essence of rock and crystal?

Secrets Universe - energy, frequency, vibration - Nikola Tesla - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Heather Askinosie, who writes at Energy Muse, said in an article worth reading: Do crystals really work? There is much debate regarding this question, as scientists say there is no hard proof to show that they do. However, every ancient civilization has utilized crystals in a vast variety of ways—from healing to offerings to protective talismans. And Quartz Crystal has been on this Earth since the beginning of time.

Crystals for The Seren Stone Chronicles - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

She goes on to talk about the fact that over 90% of the earth’s crust is made of silicate minerals, about 46.6% Oxygen and 27.7% Silicon, and when these two combine they create silicon dioxide which is in its pure form Quartz Crystal – comprising about 12% of the earth’s crust. Quartz is currently used in electronics, watches, lasers, and IT. Magnetic particles have been used in tapes to record music; you can just imagine how vibration and the energy in crystals could be used. The value of crystals may be much greater than we currently understand.

Crystal Colour Wheel - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

In my written world crystals and gems are used in many ways and are vital to medicine and technology. The most important stone in my world is peridot, formed, like diamonds, in molten rock and brought up to the surface in volcanoes and earthquakes. The vast changes in geography have not only returned dragons but brought geological change too. My protagonists wear talismans and I loved designing and painting them. When I feel overwhelmed I often work with my crystals, both in a therapeutic way and just to relax. Creating colour wheels was both restorative and fun.

Painting The Seren Stone Talismans - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

This takes me on to painting. I painted the covers for The Surviving Hope Novels and A Symphony of Dragons but haven’t painted since, so picking up my pencils and sketchpad has been good for me. I’m painting aspects of The Seren Stone Chronicles: gems, characters, scenes. In the end they’ll serve as inspiration for the covers, but right now they’re just delighting me, helping me give my expressive self a voice, and it’s a tranquil break from writing.

Painting The Seren Stone - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’m enjoying experimenting with watercolours for the first time. I’m a heavy acrylic painter, so trying out watercolours, both pencils and pans, is revitalising and fun. While I wait for my beta readers to come back with their thoughts, I’m hoping to fill my sketch book with dragons and crystals and colour.

Crystal Colour Wheel - Fluorite centre - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I find working with colour both calming and inspiring,
and these couple of months will refresh me leaving me ready
for my soon-to-do edits.

Creative Feature: Abi Burlingham

This week I’m bringing you another artistic writer, what a choice, words and pictures!

Abi is the author of several children’s books and when she’s not filling notebooks with words, she’s painting and creating works of art instead. I relate so easily to Abi, as much of my time is spent the same way! 

Abi Burlingham – Author and Artist

What inspires you?

Nature and poignancy for themes, colour and shape for appearance. I love the natural curves of nature and the diversity of colour. I really love being outside amongst trees, meadows, moors and I love creatures of all shapes and sizes. I find nature very inspiring and want to create something that the viewer feels a connection with, which is why an animal or person often feature in my paintings. Artists that have inspired me are Paul Cezanne, Gustav Klimt and Gaugin – I love their use of colour and shape and themes.

Live Abi Burlingham

Live – Abi Burlingham

Is your art planned or spontaneous?

I usually get an image in my head – it pops up without any conscious thought. Sometimes I store it in there and when I have two or three I draw them on tiny sheets of paper – about 3 x 4 inches – just in biro. They take seconds to do and are the only planning I do. Drawing the picture on canvas usually takes around 10 – 15 mins – I am a fast drawer! The painting and re-painting, as I make changes along the way, take a lot longer and I feel it as I go along, so yes, I would say my art is far more spontaneous than planned.

Matlock Abi Burlingham

Matlock (pen and ink) – Abi Burlingham

I can see you like bold colours and I’ve seen you use pencils and acrylics, but do you have a favourite medium, colours or techniques?

As a child and teenager, I loved using pencils. I still have my box of Caran D’Ache pencils. I now also use Derwent Inktense pencils which are really distinct colours and you can add water to them which increases the intensity. I love doing sketches in situ with these and a black pen. For larger pieces that are completely from my imagination, I love acrylics. They are so bold and bright and you can build them up and get a range of textures. I think they suit the bold, abstract nature of my paintings more than any other medium.

Ivy Leaves - Abi Burlingham

Ivy Leaves – Abi Burlingham

What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

Ooh that’s a hard one. I think my personal favourite is the big ivy canvas I painted five years ago and have hanging in my hallway. It was a labour of love and took every day for six weeks to complete. I also love ‘The Walk’. I barely thought about the painting as I was doing it – it seemed to create itself and I was so pleased with the end result.

Grub's Pups Abi Burlingham

Grubs Pups – Abi Burlingham

You have several published children’s books, have you ever thought about illustrating them yourself? What are your future plans with your art?

I have! I really would love to one day. I have illustrated a book which I couldn’t find a publisher for and still have all the paintings for this. Maybe I’ll give it another shot one day. I need a fantastic concept that also fits in with my style and the themes of nature and animals. I am currently arranging for a limited amount of prints of my acrylic canvases and plan to sell these and the originals – I already have a buyer for ‘The Walk’ which is wonderful.

Leaf Fall - Abi Burlingham

Leaf Fall – Abi Burlingham

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be? 

It would be a painting. I love sculpture too, but I am drawn to huge canvases more than anything. A really huge abstract canvas of trees and birds would be wonderful.

Tree from Website - Abi Burlingham

Tree from Abi’s website (you can all four seasons of trees on her website!)

Cloud Gazing - Abi Burlingham

Cloud Gazing – Abi Burlingham

Thanks Abi!
Check out Abi’s website abiburlingham.com and keep up to date with her projects and the future availability of prints. Take a look at her books which are available on Amazon. She also blogs on her website and you can like her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, she’ll be happy to see you there!

Abi’s Bio

Buttercup Magic Abi Burlingham

A Mystery for Megan – Abi Burlingham

Abi Burlingham lives in Derbyshire and teaches English to adults. She has had six children’s books published, including the Ruby and Grub series and Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan. She likes to walk through fields with her rescue greyhound, paint, write and eat cheesecake. She would quite like to do all of these at once and is still trying to work out how.

Visual Dare: Emerging

I ran, trying not to trip over my skirts, and held the swinging lamp as steady as I could.

Staying at Aunt Louise’s stern home for the entire school holiday would be torture. So I lie on my bed and stared at the only interesting thing in the house.  

Not long now, excitement bubbled as I hurried down the cobbled corridor lit only by a narrow crescent moon.

I sighed and blew out the candle. The gilded frame and its mysterious, dark alleys sank into gloom. I turned, only twisting back when an unexpected bobbing light emanated across the room.

I reached the gilded frame set at the cul-de-sac, hitched up my skirt and stepped through and there I was, staring at my intrusion in amazement…

I jumped when the girl climbed through the frame…

“Don’t be scared!” I grinned at my younger self, “That boring summer isn’t boring anymore!”

(150 Words)

Take a look at the other entries.