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A Beka Book Cover Art

This Wednesday's theme is book covers—specifically covers painted for A Beka Book.  I worked in A Beka for 6 years and had the privilege and honor of working on 15 covers for readers and song visuals.  I have included 9 reader covers below.

Everyone judges books by their covers, though they know they shouldn't.  A book can have a wonderful story or message and be trapped in a cover that does not attract attention or does not attract the right audience.  I try to bring wonderful messages to audiences who would want or need to hear them.  I try to make covers that do justice to the content.

When I create my covers, I keep four things in mind:
Meaning: What visuals are most appropriate and interesting within the content?
Audience: Who needs to be attracted to the content the most?
Fine Art: How can I raise the quality of this cover?
Clarity: The title must be readable and attractive.  Characters and situations must be accurate.  Period.
If time is a hindering factor, I still try not to scrimp on the above principles.  Many may wish to overlook the fine art principle, but a fine cover usually implies quality content, not mediocre content.

Sometime in the future I will upload several covers and fliers that I have done for friends and events not related to A Beka Book.

I love Song of the Brook's cover.  It is the sequel to Secret in the Maple Tree.  As I did on that cover, this cover mimics the cartoon characters inside the book.  However, I sought to raise the characters (and the Washington state scenery behind them) to a higher aesthetic level.  The cartoon style inside the book would not work on the cover, and neither would a photo-realistic painting.  Butterflies were an important part of the redemptive story line, so the butterfly was tied to the title with color.  The colors were adjusted to be bright, interesting, and evocative of both beauty and adventure.  I am very satisfied with how this turned out.

This was my first real cover, I learned a lot with this cover.

Windows to the World is the last cover I worked on and the most challenging.  How could I blend a five-point perspective view of the street on the front naturally into a normal-looking three-point perspective on the back?  I skewed the perspective to make it work.

I created this in half the time a cover is normally allotted in A Beka.  I did it to prove to myself that cover paintings could painted fast.  I also really enjoyed working with the grand craggy landscape.

A fascinating book about Mexican migrant workers in Washington state. I hope fifth-grade girls are intrigued by the cover and can't wait to read the whole story.

The illustration for Liberty Tree.  In the low-quality jpeg, some abnormalities might appear in the foliage of the tree.  Those abnormalities were in the original and helped the title stand out stronger.

I am a Photoshop painter, but for this painting, I experimented with Corel Painter.  I really liked the effect similar to thick paint.   However, I am most comfortable in Photoshop.  Maybe, after years of Painter experience, the differences between the two programs might diminish, but right now I am a Photoshop man.

Much of my work for A Beka was adapting older illustrations to a modern look.  The front of the Of People cover is about 40% mine (the non-essential 40%).  The back cover is my own work.

Growing Up Where Jesus Lived is another example of older art changed for a modern cover.  Title clarity is most important, then comes quality of composition, and afterwards justice to the original illustration's style.


  1. I really like the updated looks! I was homeschooled with A Beka Book so it's pretty neat to see how the books have changed. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nice work, Matthew! You have such talent, and I pray your art career flourishes. I have quite a few of these books that my children used during their years at PCA, although we have the older version of some of these. Nice to meet you at the Tryon Library today, and I appreciate your sharing your table with me. God Bless~

  3. Is your name as illustrator in any of thee books? I use A Becka for Jill (and will with her sisters). You're doing great work!

  4. Allie (Justice) ThompsonSeptember 30, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Hi, Matt! Just now got to look at these -- AMAZING! Thanks for using your talent for God!