Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Marcia Blanco

10: Marcia Blanco

Create illustrations for a children’s book, “Rescued”

The storytelling aspect of a great illustration has always absorbed Marcia’s creative process: the challenge of a narrative captured in a single frame; the tiny pause as a storyteller inhales; the snapshot instant that tells it all. This is the challenge that most influences her work at the moment. Originally trained as a medical illustrator, she spent the beginning of her art career focusing on the precise details required to accurately communicate difficult physiological concepts.  As a ‘pencil-for-hire’, much of her professional work lies within the published pages of medical journals, textbooks and digital illustrations. Eventually, Marcia transitioned to freelancing and fine art, which has opened up her subject matter and artistic direction. Because she grew up around horses, she remains captivated by the paradox of grace and power that horses possess. Her latest project is a series on the pulling draft horse, inspired by summer contests throughout her home state of Vermont.

Project description

I am illustrating a 28- page children’s picture book titled “Rescued”. The author, Tanya Sousa, is an acclaimed Vermont author and educator. “Rescued” is a true story. When Tanya was a girl, her Vermont family adopted a “rescue” from the local shelter. She spent most of her time romping with this dog. One day, after a heavy snowstorm, she and her sister went to play in the barn. “Simba” the dog, prevented them from entering by using her body and canine insistence. The two children listened to her and opted to sled instead.  As they were climbing the hill, the barn collapsed. Had they been inside, they could have been killed. By Simba’s actions, she “rescued” those girls.

The event had a deep impact on 8-year-old Tanya. It cemented her love and respect for animals and their connections with people which directly influenced the direction that her life has taken.

“Rescued” is a labor of love for Tanya. It was important for her to find the right illustrator. She wanted a Vermont artist with the skills to create a whimsical, yet realistic style for the illustrations. As a medical illustrator, I’m extremely detailed in my work. As a teacher, I have a great sense of humor. The combination is an exact fit for what she was searching for. She found me out of the blue.

My goal is to combine the beauty of rural Vermont and the connection that Vermonters have with it; the hold it has over us. The challenge is to visually incorporate the dangers that such a bucolic environment holds and how childhood innocence and trust in a canine companion compel two children to listen to a dog’s warning. Tanya and I want to create a book that Vermont children can identify with, see themselves portrayed and emphasize the importance of human-animal relationships, the connections made between children and other mammals.

Tanya and her sister could have been killed that snowy day. Because they listened to that dog and accepted her wisdom, they are both around today to celebrate her.

Media Sample 1

Rescued page 1. “The first two pages are exposition showing the character’s adventures over the 4 seasons.”

Media Sample 2

Rescued page 2. “The first spread of the book is complete because we used it for a Kickstarter campaign. The rest of the illustrations are in concept-drawing form.”

Media Sample 3

“This is the original concept sketch for the first two media samples so you can see the process involved.”

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Desmond Peeples July 27, 2023