Westby Creamery Farmer Illustrates Children’s Book
Feb 27, 2020 (Westby, WI)
Those who know even a little bit about farming know it takes talented individuals to make a go of it. These talents extend beyond animal husbandry, accounting, and machine repair. These talents include music, athletics, and art. This winter, one Westby Creamery farmer illustrated a children’s book titled, “A Bunny’s Christmas Eve Adventure.”
Jessica Rogers and her husband, Drew, operate a 30-head dairy farm just outside Viroqua, Wis. In addition to Drew’s work as a town patrolman and Jessica’s work as a township treasurer, the couple has three children – Carter, 11, Caleb, 7, and Laney, 2. The Rogers are a busy family.
This busyness, coupled with the commitment to the farm, had Jessica needing to feel more like herself, to renew her passion for painting. “After putting so much time and energy into the farm and kids every day, I decided to post my abstract floral still life’s and landscape paintings on social media and enter a few local art contests to get my work out there,” she said.
It is through social media that Jessica was contacted by the book’s author, Anna M. Schumacher. “We had been Instagram ‘friends’ for a while but had never met before. Anna’s love of cultivating children’s imaginations and maintaining their sweet innocence really attracted me to this project,” Jessica said. Upon the first meeting, the author and illustrator blended sublimely together, like maple syrup in a latte, which they both happened to drink that day.
“We planned every single page, what each character should look like and the general feel of the book in two hours,” Jessica recollected. “Anna and I became fast friends.”
“A Bunny’s Christmas Eve Adventure” finds three children waking in the morning to see a bunny outside their window. Knowing that this Christmas Eve is to be filled with joy, they follow the bunny to their mother’s favorite tree. This leads the children through a cheerful and snow-covered adventure.
Such adventure in the land of fiction proved to be an adventure for the illustrator as well. “I knew I wanted the look of watercolor but had never done any beyond a few times back in high school. I sketched up most of the pages, the two sisters Ivy and Eve being the harder subjects to draw, but adding color frightened me, and I put off painting the pages for a few months, too nervous that I would ruin all of that hard work,” Jessica said, adding, “Watercolor is a hard medium to get sharp lines and deep color out of, and it took hours upon hours of layering paint and letting areas dry to achieve the look I wanted for each individual page.”
The result, however, was well worth the risk and depicts a story of gentleness and vibrancy at the same time. The images evoke a sense of home with details such as wreaths on the walls and stitching on clothes. “I am happy that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone with this project, and was happy with the look in the end,” Jessica admitted.
Now that the book is published, Jessica finds great joy in receiving pictures from parents who capture their children reading or pictures from libraries sharing the publication with young readers. The author and illustrator purposefully portrayed a magical childhood in this book, Jessica explained, in the hopes of giving children a sense of wonder and imagination as they look through their own windows.