Wednesday, 29 July 2009

can you dig it?

The thumbnails are coming thick and fast, I'm finally working out the exact details of how the beginning gets to the middle and the middle to the end...! It seems obvious I know but, while the bare bones of the story have been quite clear to me for some time it hasn't always been so clear how to say everything I want to in each spread. Although the text is quite minimal, the pictures have to convey much more than the words themselves.

Plus, I have a tendency to go to the dark side, I blame all those fairy stories from my childhood when Grandmama actually did get eaten by the wolf... It's probably why I love Maurice Sendak's work so much too. I like being a little bit scary with my work and I think kids like being a little bit scared, but in this case portraying the situation too realistically (as in the old visual above) was beginning to resemble a story of child neglect. I think adding a more surreal reason for his family being disinterested (with the line up of daredevil portraits on the stairs) works better.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

slow growth

It's been a crazy week, finding time to finish the first illustration is proving difficult. Hopefully it will not be long now and I think it is working better now than before. My head is buzzing with ideas - I have to rush to the sketchbook these days to record everything before I forget it!

Monday, 20 July 2009

beginning to bloom

The first colour visual is underway - not really enough done yet to see how it will turn out, but it helps me to see it on screen too... The muted colours are important at the start of the book. As his environment changes and grows, I will add more colour. Next stage to follow...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

preparing the ground

I'm finding lots of inspiration for the Growing Boy in the garden, especially in my little greenhouse, perhaps that's why I have suddenly found the enthusiasm to look at the book again. Looking forward to a weekend of sketching tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and onions...
Meanwhile, I have a literal blank canvas prepared to work up the first visual. I deliberately used the board which the old spread languished on for a year - a clean slate.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Now I've started again almost from scratch, it has become much easier to see which parts of the book were not working - and how to fix them. I'm not nearly so unhappy about losing spreads that I had become attached to (and stuck with) and I can see already how the new pages have become so much more lively. The book had clearly been stagnating for some time but the changes have renewed my enthusiasm for it!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

sowing seeds

Sketched this new thumbnail spread down quickly last night, before I forget it! I've decided (after a year!) that it works much better if the boy starts from seeds (rather than being given a seedling as in my original text). I'm being inspired by my own little greenhouse I think, so although I don't feel like I've been producing much in the way of roughs, I guess doing the actual growing is helping me get a feel for the book...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

green shoots

I'm finally finding time to work on this and I think this blog is going to be extremely useful for me. Having a space (less cluttered than my sketchbook!) to organise, collate and review my ideas, combined with a 'diary' of my thoughts - very handy. It will also be interesting to see how long I can keep the gardening references going for the post titles!!

My first thoughts for the boy character are above but, having procrastinated and struggled with it for nearly a year, as posted earlier I eventually had to admit defeat. The book wasn't working and definitely not developing as I saw it in my mind, so I have started again. The decision, once made, was something of a relief!
What I have in my head is much cleaner, with simplified lines and very expressive body language. I want to concentrate on the changes to the character's environment as it develops and not get bogged down in irrelevant detail.

My 'Wind' illustration was done fairly quickly and as a very personal response to Wordsworth's poem, Surprised by Joy - Impatient as the Wind. I was very moved by the poem and its expression of loss, and I think that's one of the reasons the image works.

One of my weaknesses as an illustrator (and this has always been so), is my tendency to overwork things long after I should have stopped, losing the immediacy and emotional power of the original roughs. So, now I will try to keep the immediacy for the Growing Boy illustrations - tricky when I've been living with them in my head for so long!

Thumbnail and first roughs above. The devil will be in the rendering of the final artwork! I have to work up one spread at least, to find the best medium and style to achieve what I am seeing in my head. Will post the progress...