Friday, January 28, 2011

Illustration Friday: Surrender

Even the mightiest of beasts surrenders to the whim of the porcupine.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #16: You May Become Paranoid

This is likely to happen if you have two children in the house AND your kitchen is your studio. Or maybe it just happens to everyone?

I purchased a very sturdy cardboard box for my final pieces. Still, as the stack of finished art grew, I started to worry about water, milk and flying cheddar bunnies. My daughter's social life suffered because I was afraid to have roving gangs of children in the house. Then, I began to worry about natural disasters. I have never been so happy to safely deliver a package of ANYTHING in my life. And, because I live close to Tricycle Press, I was able to hand deliver the art. Very satisfying!

I was at a conference where Barney Saltzberg mentioned that all of the art for one of his books had been thrown away by a janitor at the printer. He had a very zen response, choosing to look at the experience as a sign and an opportunity for growth. I think I need to meditate more. A lot more.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Illustration Friday: Dusty

The first post-hibernation yawn-stretch:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #15: Don't Paint in Order

As a follow up to last week's "process" post, I wanted to mention that I chose to paint the images in the book out of order. I made this decision for a few reasons. One: If the painting style does happen to "evolve" a bit as you paint, I think painting the images out of order makes it less apparent to the reader. Two: it helped (psychologically) to get some of the harder paintings out of the way in the beginning. I can usually tell from the sketches which paintings might be more difficult. However, I can't tell how long difficult paintings are going to take! I'd rather have the wild cards at the beginning of my schedule than at the end. Three: it allowed me to paint some of the supporting characters in sequence. For example, there is a crow character that appears on a few spreads. I knew that I wanted to paint all of the crow images together.

Every book is different and there are probably plenty of good reasons to paint sequentially. For now though, I'll stand by my mix it up theory.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Illustration Friday: Chicken

Chicken Wrangling! This is almost a daily occurrence on our little street. The neighborhood chickens need to be returned to their coops in the evening after free ranging in various yards. The kids are always big helpers. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #14: When in Doubt, Make a List

Buglette is the first picture book project I've done. As I began to work on sketches, the magnitude of the work became apparent. 32 pages of images. Plus a cover! ALL of the images would have to be consistent in color and line weight. The first image and the last image (created 4 months apart) would need to feel the same. The characters would need to be depicted consistently throughout. Moreover, the color schemes from spread to spread would need variation and an appropriate rhythm. The design of the pages would need rhythm. All of the advice I had read about picture books and heard about picture book illustration in school was flooding into my head. And while it made perfect sense in the abstract, it was somewhat overwhelming in reality. Where to begin? My mind raced. So, as is the case with most things in life that I want to wrangle under my control, I made a list:
1. Rough sketches
2. Plaster my kitchen wall with rough sketches at actual trim size
3. Look at the pacing
4. Adjust pacing as necessary
5. Submit for approval
6. Revisions
7. After approval, refine rough sketches at actual trim size
8. Create color palettes for each spread
9. Look at the color palettes in order and adjust as necessary
10. Make a calendar showing how many images need to be finished per week. (Begin losing hair and eating more ice cream as a result.)

That got me through the first book. If anyone would like to share tips as to how one might accomplish the task with more hair intact, please let me know your secrets. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Illustration Friday: Deja Vu

As Tillie approached the shop, she couldn't shake the sense that she'd been there before.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #13: 250 words is not just 250 words

My manuscript was roughly 250 words long when we began the editing process. We added words as we went along. From what I've heard, this is not typical. But I tend to rely heavily on images to tell the story and my editor wanted the book to work well as a read-aloud for the youngest audiences. I agreed. I think we ended up at roughly 400 words. Probably only about 100 of my original words are in those final 400. I considered getting all math-geek on things and doing massive word counts, etc., but I decided to let that go and give you this equation:

250 original words times 1 bajillion words (about those 250 original words) from my editor divided by 1 gazillion words (about editor's 1 bajillion words) from me = 400 words (or thereabouts).

If you've ever looked at a picture book and thought, "Even I can muster up the strength to write 400 words", I encourage you to consider the equation above.

Still, I love the editing process. My editors keep me honest and they make my stories better.