I am gradually creeping forwards, though it's taking longer than I would like. So many fiddly bits! I am rather pleased with the effect of the muck heap though. My favourite bit on this one is the knitting sheep though. And I really like how the cockerel colours contrast so well against the background:
This is spread 3, coming directly after the artwork I showed you last. You can see Julia's text on the rough which, as usual, was tacked to my drawing board directly above the artwork as I worked, to allow me to keep checking the details of what I was creating, because of course, when you use pastels, a lot of that detail from the pencil drawing gets obliterated:
It's useful, taking a photo of the artwork once it's done. I hadn't realised this before but, seeing it reduced like this really helps me to spot things I've missed. A book like this is a bit of a nightmare, making sure I have coloured every tiny shoe, not missed out any hands, left off any freckles etc. I can see, looking at this artwork, I have forgotten the eyebrows on the lad throwing the muck at his classmate, so he doesn't look quite naughty enough. I'll just go and fix that...
As you probably already know, I am working on my artwork in a rather random order. Actually, it's not random to me: it's about content on the page, rather than story progression, but it probably looks random from the outside. Having drawn the smelly muck heap spreads, I went back a bit and tackled the farmer and the prickly haystack. I wanted to get the look of the muck heap under my belt first, then I could ensure that the haystack looked sufficiently different. This was a lovely bold spread, so much easier to tackle in pastels. It another one where the background will be dropped in later, in a nice, bold colour, which is why there is so much of my pink paper visible. I have already established the look of both the farmer and the bull in earlier spreads, which made things even easier.
When that was finished, I thought I would go back to the other spread where that same gate appears: spread 2. As you can see, the muck heap is just being delivered to the field, complete with stowaway piglet. At this stage, Class One are still oblivious to the bull, though the reader can't fail to notice him glaring through the gate bars:
Of course, this was a much fiddlier piece to do and, in the end, it took nearly 3 days to get all the detail in. The pastel 'clogs' after a while: you can only build it up so much, then you have to use fixative, which allows you to continue to layer over the top. Having fixed it when it was 2/3rds finished, I had to more or less rework everything, to bring back the brightness of the colour. A bit of a nightmare, especially when there is this much going on. Fixative has always been an unfortunately necessary evil.
Here it is on my desk, with the rough I always mount alongside, for guidance. That will allow you to read Julia Jarman's text:
Before people send me messages pointing out that I've 'missed a bit', the writing has been left off the sign on the gate deliberately - you always leave text off picture book artwork, so it will work for foreign editions. I will create the 'Beware of the Bull' text separately, so it can be taken off for any translations.
You might also notice another little anomaly in that area of the illustration. In my rough, there is more of the bull showing. Actually, on my very first drawing, it was just a tail visible, as a teaser, but my art director thought we should see a bit more of him. My re-work of that rough is the one above. However, when I was preparing to start the artwork, tracing the image onto the pink paper, using my lightbox, I forgot to trace the bull's body! I noticed my error in plenty of time, but thought it actually looked better. With just his face, it looks like he's hiding, and yet he's perilously near to the boy, which I think will amuse my young readers.
So, I coloured up the spread with just the bull's head showing and have sent the photo to my art director to see if they agree. I can easily add the body back in if they would rather. Cross fingers they like it as it is!
If you’re just now joining us on Iron Chef Vermin… Strawberry Challenge, you’ll note on the challenger’s side, Ronaldo Rodent, Executive Chef of the ever popular Hole in the Wall restaurant, unfolding a nice pate brisee over a sugared strawberry filling.
It has taken absolutely ages to get the go-ahead on my roughs for Class One Farmyard Fun. I was beginning to be concerned... Perhaps the publisher hated them. Maybe there would be loads of redraws to do...
I needn't have worried. They finally came back and there was less than a day's worth of changes needed. Phew! I don't know what the delay was, but at least it's sorted now and I am up and running at last.
The first job was really really boring: working out what dimensions to do the artwork (based mostly on how big the final package will be, for posting), enlarging all my roughs to that size, printing them out and then tracing them up onto pastel paper on the lightbox (with all the blinds drawn). Tedious. At least John helped out by cutting all the pastel paper to size, so that was one less boring job.
I've made a start on the pastel bit now. The first marks are a bit scary as I don;t really know what colours I am going to do things - I work it out as I go along, starting with the big 'givens', like blue sky, green grass etc, then making everything else coordinate and contrast. It's going to be a bit of a slow one, as there is such a lot of detail (all the kids in their little outfits...). Because of my Artist-in-Residence work though, I only have half each week, so that will make it twice as long as it would have been.
A long haul. better get to it!
Every year I seem to do several versions of my entry for the SCBWI Tomie Depaola award Contest. this year was no exception. I did two completely different settings for Little Red Riding Hood prompt. The passage I used was “Her grandmother lived in the woods, about half an hour’s walk away. When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him.”
In the end I sent the Central Park Little Red Riding Hood, but I always wonder if I should’ve sent the other one/ones. Which one?
This is the only clue, sir. It says, “Claus”.
Ah, take the little, er, baggage to the orphan asylum. That’s the proper place for foundlings anyway.
[the baby starts to cry]
Get that brat out of here!
It’s a difficult responsibility
When you an accept an appointment from His Majesty
You must strive for just the perfect quality
When you’re the first toy maker to the king!
Who nears my mountain! Go back or you are doomed!
Well I guess they’re all pretty nice!
I hate toys! And toys hate me! Either they are going or I am going and I definitely am not going!
It’s… a… difficult responsibility
That he extract from the number-one law keeper, me
Be it known throughout the land from sea to sea
There’ll be no more.. toy… makers… to the King!
All the little cares picked along the way
Suddenly have disappeared with yesterday
My world is beginning today!
You wish to give me… a present? A… a toy?
No one ever gives mean old Warlock a toy.
I’ve always wanted one.
You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town!!
And that is the story of Santa Claus.
Hey, it’s getting late, and I’ve got these letters to deliver. You better be getting home, too.
And remember, behave yourselves, because Santa can still look into his magic snowball
and see just what you’re up to. And now that you know all about him, you can be darn sure that
come snow or high water, Santa Claus is comin’ to town!
I think I fell for the socks on this one. I had to get out my 'french toast brush' to correctly render the breakfast. It was interesting working from the rough sketch to a rough finish - with lots of fun on the way getting there.
And this child reminded me of my own child way back when... at the start when life was all wonderful.
I was delighted to receive this new edition in the mail from the publisher Dawn Publications. What a joy to see that children all over the world are reading and learning about alligators and other swamp creatures in The Swamp Where Gator Hides written by Marianne Berkes. This book is available on Amazon.
I’ve been working on some readers that have kept me pretty busy. Mostly fairy tales which I really enjoy creating. But when work is done and I have a few spare minutes, I let my pencil wander. This is where it goes, to the land of little creatures, where fairies collect the things that go missing in the house, and whose friends are the crickets and the mice in the woods. Won’t you join me?
“Did you ever grow anything in a vegetable garden, or a flower garden? Do you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind? Sure, you can grow ideas in your mind. You can think about things and make believe things. That’s like growing something of your own. You have wonderful ideas, all you have to do is think about them and they’ll grow.” _Fred Rogers
If we all thought like Mr. Rodgers….what a beautiful world it would be.
This is a piece I did for a Educational reader a little while back. It’s interesting how the original story differs from the Disney version that so many of us are familiar with. It’s much darker.
Miranda Mummy groaned in despair…
“When I open my coffin, I’ve nothing to wear!”
Then she looked in her mirror and said with a pause….
“Does my bottom look bigger when wrapped up in gauze?”
Her very best ghoul friend knew just the right trick.
“I’ll pull on this string and you’ll soon look less thick….”
~by Roberta Baird
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
Poor, misguided folks. They missed the whole point. Lot’s of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give: of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men._Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town_ Movie
Look, sir, look what was discovered on your front stoop.
What, Grimsby? The milk? The daily paper?
No, sir, a baby.
Oh, is that all?
[gasps and chokes]