Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why It Takes So Long: Real Life

I spent the weekend working on sketches for the book cover. The publisher wants to see two versions: one "quiet/still" and one "busier/more active."

Two covers means four paintings, because each book has a front and back cover. Another ten or twelve hours should be enough to finish these off. But now it's time to iron some clothes, make myself presentable, and go to work!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Why It Takes So Long: Mistakes!

My mistake-o-rama starts with this sketch of a scene from an opera called The Tender Land, by Aaron Copland. The editor has written on the layout "show more of the SOUND, instead of the literal crowd and stage."

First I have to transfer the measurements from the printed layouts onto my computer screen. The editor uses inches. I use centimeters. My software uses a grid that is neither one nor the other. Let the mathematical mistakes begin! (Dad, stop laughing.)

Next I have to figure out how to show SOUNDS. Write words onto the picture? Make swirly or spiky marks? I don't love those ideas, and I don't think they would fit with the rest of the book. I decide to zoom up close to the argument, show the characters shouting, and put as many noisy elements into the picture as possible.

I draw for nearly an hour before I realize I don't know what I'm doing. Exactly how do people stand when they're arguing? What do they do with their hands? Mistake number two--trying to draw without reference photos. I stop and do some research, and make a collage.

The photo of the kid covering his ears is a nice surprise. It strikes me as a great way to convey SOUND. In the opera, the men are arguing about a girl, so why don't I put her front and centre, with her hands over her ears?

Back to the drawing board. Mistake, mistake, mistake. Erase, erase, erase. Start again and again.

I'm drawing like mad when an awful thought hits me: does the girl really appear on stage in the argument scene? It's been months since I did the research for the original drawing. I remember the argument, but not the girl. Maybe she's not even in that scene!

Pause for opera-viewing. Luckily, there's a version of The Tender Land on YouTube. Unluckily, it's divided into twelve sections. I finally find "my" scene about halfway through section 8. And...tah-dah! Yes, the girl really is there. Whew. Mistake narrowly averted. I add a crowing rooster and barking dog for good measure. Here's the sketch I'll submit:

Will this picture will even make it into the book? Or will it be cut in the next round of revisions? I'd say there's about a 50-50 chance. We'll see!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why It Takes So Long

The Ives-Lusitania saga continues--I'm into revisions, revisions, revisions. How on earth can it take so long to make one little picture book? It's a mystery to me, too, so I'm going to explore that theme for the next few weeks: Why It Takes So Long.

Reason number one: I make a lot of mistakes. I'll show you some examples tomorrow. Oy-vey! Please stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Small Books

After a bit of a family crisis and a nice little virus, I'm back in business. Now it's time to tackle a project that's been on my desk for more than a decade. I'll be painting up a storm--thirty pictures in a dozen weeks! I hope you'll follow me through the mayhem.

Meanwhile, I've stashed the "small books" from this blog on their very own website, for safekeeping. Please click here to see them, and to see how they were made. I can hardly wait to start working on them again.

I'll post photos of the new project as it progresses, so please stay tuned. And thanks for stepping through the journey with me. You inspire me!