Manchess developed the story and artwork for Above the Timberline over a seven-year process. What began with a simple suggestion of a man riding a polar bear evolved over time into a complex narrative played out through an assemblage of 124 individual paintings. During the planning period, Manchess made thoughtful decisions over the look and feel of the book, ultimately choosing to tell the story through a grand, cinematic design, which developed into a panoramic format for the paintings.
"You've got to be 100% engaged when you work. Every time you put the pencil to the paper you have to be engaged. I could see that in [Norman] Rockwell."