By Claire Harlin
The story always goes the same way. Luciana Powell gets her sons, 3-year-old Nicolas and 5-year-old Alexander, wound down and ready for bed. Then her husband, Michael, comes home and is so excited to see the kids that he gets them all revved up again.
“I say ‘Oh gosh, the jungle gym is home’ or ‘Oh no, the playground has arrived,’” said Luciana, a Solana Beach resident.
He picks the kids up like a swing, they climb on his back like he’s a jungle gym, they jump on him like he’s a trampoline and he spins them like a merry-go-round — “hopefully when I’m not watching,” Luciana said.
Seeing how her husband plays with her sons was inspiring and special to Luciana, so she brought the scene to life in her new children’s book, “My Dad is the Best Playground,” which was released just in time for Father’s Day.
“That’s the beauty of fathers and kids,” said Luciana, a Brazil native who has specialized in digital art and illustration for more than a decade. “Moms are usually more careful but dads need that crazy physical play, and I wanted to celebrate this because it’s something special dads do that a lot of people can relate to.”
Luciana, for example, said she remembers doing “the airplane,” with her father on Sunday mornings as a child — she would jump on his shins and he’d float her up over his head while mimicking the sound of a propeller.
“I started asking around to my friends’ kids in Solana Beach; I asked what they play with their dads and it confirmed to me that dads really are like playgrounds, these poor dads,” Luciana said.
Luciana said celebrating the fun roughhousing that dads are known for has also led to a greater appreciation on behalf of wives. For example, she received a thank-you letter from a reader who said the book enhanced her appreciation of her husband.
“She said she sees that he is such a great dad,” Luciana said.
Luciana said she has been drawing since she was a child.
“My dad would bring home stacks of paper from work and I would draw so much,” she said. “My mom would say ‘There’s not enough paper for you.’”
Even in college, Luciana said she was always drawing, and she worked as a freelance illustrator for a variety of publishing companies. She earned a degree in product design from a university in Brazil.
This year, however, has been a “breakout year” for Luciana. She has always wanted to publish her own stories, at the end of April she finished up with her first four solo books.
“It was so intensive, the hours,” said Luciana. “In March and April I worked every day and every night and every weekend for 50 days.”
Luciana’s artistic style starts with a sketch, and incorporates textures and colors via Photoshop. Luciana carries a camera around at all times, and photographs objects that she scans in or uploads to capture that object’s texture. She said that method breaks the “overly digital” look, and she also uses watercolors at times to give a “painterly warmth.”
Luciana’s Father’s Day book has been such a hit that she is now working on a Mother’s Day book called “My Mom is the Best Circus.”
“It’s inspired by me,” she said. “It’s literally about juggling things.”
As part of a continuing “Weekend With Locals” series, Warwick’s book store in La Jolla will host Luciana Powell at noon on June 16 and her book will be available for $7.99.
To see more of Luciana’s work, visit www.lucianaillustration.com; 7812 Girard Avenue La Jolla, 92037; (858) 454-0347.