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About the Illustrator And Evolution of Artwork for Sparkling Together

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Chandra Devi’s interest in art and illustration began at a very early age and throughout school Art was her favorite subject. In her teens she began to do some small freelance illustration projects, designing posters and record covers etc., mostly for friends. She studied at the University of Mid Glamorgan, in Wales, taking a Combined Studies Bachelor of Arts Degree, which included Fine Art and Art History. On leaving the University, she studied Graphic Design and Publishing and continued a little freelance illustration work. However, by this time her interest in Yoga and Eastern philosophies became a way of life and her artwork and creativity were channeled into projects for the Yoga and Buddhist communities she was part of. In 2001, the opportunity arose to illustrate the children’s book Sparkling Together by Jyoti Ma of Yogaville.

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When Jyoti Ma sent the first brief and descriptions of the main characters, Sky, Rose and Starbright seemed to spring to life straight away. In due time, Chandra joined Jyoti Ma in Yogaville. For three months they worked together planning the illustrations. They chose a rainbow color pallet. Then they decided what got illustrated, including the appearance of the characters – size, skin, eye and hair colors. They strove to include the various races and cultures in the characterization. As the planet Earth setting takes place in California, Jyoti Ma educated Chandra as to the appearance of the landscape and homes in California. Research was done to portray Sky and Rose’s Spanish mother and her kitchens. It was decided to make Starbright and his family East Indian. In the blessing dance scene on pages 68-69, Sri Swami Satchidananda takes on the character of Dr. Goodman. On page 44, Rose’s friends are named after Jyoti Ma’s parents, and 2 sisters and brother, all great supporters of the project over the years.

Often in the work of children’s books publishing, the author and artist are kept apart. However, as you can see, with the Sparkling Together project, Chandra and Jyoti Ma became one mind collaborating to create their masterpiece. Chandra created the illustrations to keep true to the stories. At times, Jyoti Ma adapted the stories to better fit the illustrations.

Back in England Chandra continued to work on the project. It was in many ways like working with real children: a delicate balance of magic and realism that would allow their personalities to shine freely. This was where all the training in Yoga and meditation was so helpful. For Chandra, it meant becoming a channel for the free spirits of the children – their pure inquiring hearts and unconditional joy for life. Their expression and movements and even the colors that were mixed to make the illustrations magical and yet reassuring, all arose from getting into that certain, innocent, state of mind. Often the characters themselves would be the ones to lead the way. It’s a curious thing how a few lines of pencil on paper can become a child’s face, with the whole world within.

That the illustrations have brought as much joy to adults as they have to children has been a very happy conclusion to the Sparkling Together project for Chandra. She currently resides in Somerset, England continuing her involvement in Yoga and freelance art.