We thought you would enjoy an insider view of Robert Noreika’s watercolor illustrations for Seashells by the Seashore. Bob is a well-known and award-winning New England artist based in Avon, Connecticut. As a boy he loved fishing and catching turtles and frogs along the New England shoreline and countryside. He has a flair for painting in the great outdoors, but for all his many visits to the seashore where thousands of little shells crunched underfoot, he admits that he had never really thought very much about them. When he prepared to illustrate the book, he discovered that “there were a gazillion slipper shells.” Others he could find on the Connecticut coast included the whelk shell, scallop shell, pen shell, and oyster shell.
His niece was a willing model. His young daughter had the perfect purple beach pail. A volunteer at his daughter’s kindergarten posed as grandma.
Here are two sketches that came together on a single spread, including a neighbor boy. Bob always first sketches with pencil on tracing paper. When he’s satisfied with the sketch, he transfers it to 140-pound coldpress paper.
Bob and his daughter went up and down the beaches collecting seagull feathers, seaweed, and various flotsam washed ashore.
When it came time actually to start the final watercolor, Bob says that he would “pace the floor” for a while to steady his nerves before diving in, because it all has to flow seamlessly from beginning to end. He describes children’s watercolor picture books as “a pristine use of the medium.” He said it usually came through well the first time mostly because he has had 35 years of experience with watercolor.
You can see more on his website, www.noreikaart.com.