Baseball on Mars / Beisbol En Marte
Illustrations by Christina Rodriguez
Publisher: Arte Publico
Creating the illustrations for Baseball on Mars / Beisbol En Marte (released this month from Piñata Books) was quite the fun experience! Stylistically, it was a bit of a departure from my “comfort zone” of simplified realism. To match the exaggerated, zany feel of the story, and solidify the theme of embracing one’s imagination, I employed a more carefree approach to my traditional painting technique.
Enhancing my usual painting medium (a mixture of watercolors, watercolor pencils, and gouache) with salt helped me achieve an otherworldly, outer space effect for many of the illustrations in the book. While the paper was still wet with a dark color wash, I sprinkled salt over the painting. The salt absorbed some of the paint while the paper dried, and dusting off the salt afterwards revealed little “starbursts” of lighter color underneath. This technique was very useful in different textures and outer space-inspired effects. The process can be repeated (albeit to lessening degrees of efficacy), or washes of color can be applied on top to subdue the effect.
This is a pretty well-known technique, but it’s definitely worth further exploration. I certainly enjoyed what simple table salt brought to my illustrations!
Born to multicultural parents overseas, Christina Rodriguez grew up as a military “brat” and loved to read, draw, and paint. A good book and her art supplies were always on hand as she relocated from place to place. Later, Christina won scholarships to the Rhode Island School of Design where she graduated in 2003.
Currently, Christina lives and works out of a renovated church in historic Stillwater, Minnesota. She still loves to read, draw, and paint. Newly released picture books featuring her illustrations include The Antarctic Express, The Wishing Tree, and Storm Codes with Minnesotan publishers, as well as the bilingual picture books Baseball on Mars / Beisbol En Marte, Somos Primos / We Are Cousins, Un dia con mis tias / A Day with my Aunts, and Mayte and the Bogeyman / Mayte y el Cuco. Her award-winning work has been recognized by the Midwest Booksellers Association, Foreword Magazine, the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards, and the Mom's Choice Awards.
When not illustrating or meeting delightful young readers during school visits, Christina serves as a coordinator with the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In her spare time, she loves cooking, hula-hooping, and hiking along the St. Croix River with her husband and dog.