This blog is a celebration of novel, novel characters!

I love reading novels, and as an artist I know a great exercise to stretch one's illustration skills is to portray characters from a description in a book. This blog is a challenge to myself to do just that so I'll be posting illustrations from whatever book I'm currently reading. Feel free to add comments and send me your fan art for these great titles too!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Carl & Annalisa from A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund


A Noble Groom.  How could any woman resist a title like that?  Not to mention the cover that goes with it!  As if that combination alone wasn’t enough to give me a propensity for the story, the main characters are also German immigrants (dear to my heart as my father is one), and it’s set in Michigan with countryside a lot like my current home in the neighboring state of Wisconsin.

 Anyway, those are the little things.  The real substance is in the characters and the plot, which did not disappoint.  When Carl von Reichart, the only son of a very unpopular Baron in Germany, is wrongly accused of a crime, he takes refuge in America, disguising his identity.   He’s sent to stay with the relatives of his faithful manservant who are in need of a groom for their recently widowed daughter Annalisa.  Upon arrival, Carl promises to stand in until her groom arrives by helping work on Annalisa’s farm in exchange for food and shelter.  But, with the dashingly kind Carl working for her, something told me from the beginning that Annalisa might not be so eager for her new groom once he arrives.

Tender and sweet, this is a story about God’s love and the healing power of simple kindness.  Annalisa wasn’t treated well by her first husband, and Carl never realized the hurts he’d inflicted on the lower class citizens by being indifferent to their suffering.  By being kind to each other they are both able to mature and grow in their faith.

Annalisa has a sweet little daughter named Gretchen and is expecting another little one when Carl arrives.  He eases Annalisa’s grief with light-hearted banter and endears himself to Gretchen with his piggyback rides. 

 Just Moved, 1870Henry Mosler (American, 1841–1920)Oil on canvas

This painting by Henry Mosler, a German painter, was painted 10 years before the setting of the book, but it reminds me of the simple family life depicted in the story.  The couple’s kind expressions and the easy going relationship depicted between them is the same I picture Annalisa and Carl having.

Joy Hedlund’s website:

For some fun pictures that inspired Jody for her settings and characters, check out the board for the story on her pinterest page:

I received a review copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Luke & Rosie from Swept Away by Mary Connealy

Last Sunday was a stormy day, thunder & lightening, the internet down, what better time to read a good book?  Picking up “Swept Away” with about 50 pages already read, I continued on and didn’t really stop reading until I had read the next 250 pages, finishing the book!  Once I got about half way through I was already at the point of no return, not wanting to stop.

“Swept Away” is a great western adventure, complete with daring rescues, romance, gunplay, and smelly stink’n villains!  Since I read a lot of books with most of the drama coming from relationships, it was a nice change to have an easy romance with the drama coming from outside sources.  Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for all that melancholy pining.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a satisfying romance, but for those who aren’t as inclined for all the mushy stuff, you won’t find it overwhelming.  There’s plenty of action and suspense to keep you reading!

I usually like to clean up my drawings and use full color, but for a western, the sketchy monotone style seemed to fit so I stuck with it.  This drawing is based off the following description from p. 27 and is one of my favorite parts of the story.
"Luke was tempted to laugh.  She was a trusting little thing to fall asleep in a stranger’s arms.  Not at all worried that he might not be an honorable protector, never mind that his arms would get mighty tired.
A pretty little thing, too.  She was coated in long-dried muddy water.  Her red hair was stiff, her sunburned skin peeling.  So calling her pretty was saying a lot.

He wouldn’t mind seeing her all cleaned up."
And just so you don’t get the impression that the leading lady is a damsel in distress, I’ll assure you, baring natural disasters, she can hold her own just fine.

Ruthy aka Rosie

The story has a great cast of characters which I’m excited to read more of in her next novels.  I haven’t read much of Mrs. Connealy’s work yet but readers who have been following her will probably enjoy the connection to characters from her last series “The Kincaid Brides.”  I would love to take the time to draw all the characters, but that will have to wait.  There’s just one more that I couldn’t resist taking a stab at.  With my pencil.  Although, taking an actual stab might be your only line of defense against this evil guy if you met him!  Greer, the villain of the story is the kind you will love hating.  The description of him starting on p.115  is great:

"When Greer turned back, at that second, he resembled an ape Dare had seen in a picture book.  Greer had hair on his head, his face, his neck.

The backs of his hands were so thick with black hair it looked like pelt.  He had shaggy brows that almost drooped over his eyes.  And those eyes- they were so wild they seemed to jump around in his head.

His nose was too flat.  It looked like it has been broken so often it barely had a shape anymore.  Maybe Greer had been a fighter earlier in life.  His forehead was so prominent the ape comparison was almost too close."
I think he's the big one, center right. This is from a 1859 newspaper, you can read about it here: http://printedprimate

Greer with a face only a mother could love

I had such fun reading “Swept Away,” I look forward to the next book coming out in September, featuring Luke’s good friend Dare.  Mary was kind enough to send me a review copy of “Swept Away” so I could write and draw this blog post.  Thank you Mary!  

And thank you readers, for stopping by!


Visit Mary Connealy's website:  http://www.maryconnealy.com/