In which the project is nearly scrapped and an identity crisis ensues...
Again, apologies for the delay with these. This week was technically Spring "break"... I use the term "break" extremely loosely because break for me meant a week of 8 hr (sometimes 8+, except for Tuesday, when I took the afternoon off) workdays in the studio. As such, I finished three (soon to be four) new paintings for this very project, which I'm not going to post tonight because we have a bit of catching up to do first. Soon, dear readers, soon... all in good time.
So let's get to it, shall we? When I last left you, I had just finished the first dummy for the book. It was fairly complete - a full 32 pages - textless, but complete. And then, then there was the meeting - the meeting that turned everything upside down.
Each of us met with our creative writing teacher, who, when it was my turn, suggested that I scrap my entire project. I'm not going to go into the gory details, but it led to a series of successive identity crises that had me questioning everything from the kind of work I do, how I do it, why I want to do kids' books, if that's really what I want to spend my time on... oof... exhausting. Ultimately I did not scrap the story, but I spent the next three weeks doing heaps of sketches, reworking the story itself, changing it from the inside out, and playing with adding text. In my last post, I mentioned that I felt that the story lacked a central conflict, and while the reworking isn't entirely complete, the story arc is much more solid. So the crisis-inducing meeting, despite turning my world upside-down and inside-out for much of February, ultimately strengthened the story, forcing me to push it further. There is a lot I still have to work out about the story line and actual text of the manuscript, but the ideas are there.
And as I mentioned earlier, only one of the sketches you've seen made it into the book. Post crisis, the new dummy had 30 new illustrations (a number of which, I'm still doing revisions on). Here are a handful of the new images:
After spending so many weeks working out the story and sketching, the next step in my process was to start figuring out how I wanted to render the artwork. Watercolor? Ink? Gouache? Acrylic? So many options! I knew that I wanted a really saturated series of images, so I started looking back at the work I had rendered last term and finally came to Carl's final project - a folding screen rendered on black rag board. Perfect! Because the story takes place at night, the dark board would be perfect for rendering night skies and likewise would help the colors pop and shine in vibrant contrast to the black background. And so I gave it a go, rendering a couple of test illustrations in gouache on bits of board leftover from the Four Seasons screen.
And thus, I'm on my way.
And so I shall leave you until next time (until the first of the colored spreads and spring break paintings) with this marvelous quote by Madeleine L'Engle (who was, it is worth noting, a Smithie).
"You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children."