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ROYGBIV: A Pixar Supercut from Rishi Kaneria on Vimeo.
Editor Rishi Kaneria excerpted short scenes from the Pixar films and arranged them according to the spectrum, showing how much individual sequences are shifted to a particular narrow color gamuts. (Link to Vimeo video)
First of all. Welcome to the new Design of the Picture Book! I’m super excited to feature this particular book as the first spot in my face-lifted blog–its heart and soul of art and play is exactly what I think these new digs represent.
Do you see? The logo! The colors! The Book Party? THE BOOK PARTY?!! (If you are in a reader, click over and see all the goodies. And for the love, please join the Book Party. I mean really.)
Super huge thanks to Sara Jensen for, well, everything. (#taken)
It’s here. This highly anticipated follow up to the smash hit Press Here is muddled-up fun and completely magical.
Remember those rolls of endless butcher paper and squishing your fingers into as many paint puddles as possible? That’s what this book is. It’s a lesson in color mixing wrapped up in a hefty dose of play.
Slam the book together so the yellow and blue make green. Shake it on its side and watch purple drips racing off the page. What happens when you add some white? Or black? Or stick your hand right in the middle of the mess?
It’s a color theory primer and an invitation to get dirty. And isn’t that the best kind of creating?
I’m a grownup. I get the gig here. And still I looked at my palm when I flipped the last page of this book, sure it would be dripping with paint.
Welcome back to childhood. It’s good here.
Want to win a children’s painting studio worth $500? Check out the details here, and tweet away using #MixItUpBook!
P.S – If you need more Hervé Tullet (and the answer is probably yes, yes you do) check out this other experiential art book for tiny, creative minds.
I received this book from the publisher (right back atcha, #chroniclecrush!), but opinions are all mine.
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School’s been back in the swing of things for a couple weeks, and it has been bananas. But I’ve got this beautiful new space and some read-in-me-for-hours lounge chairs and the kids named our bright new sitting area The Birdhouse. This week: shelves and books. The heart and soul.
That’s why I needed to visit a book that is about all of those things: comfort and wonder and imagination and a very special place.
This book is the hope of yellow and the broken-in-ness of blue overalls and the loose lines of childhood. This book started with two masters but belongs to the rest of us. It’s root in the moodle of our head head heads.
They and I are making secrets
and we’re falling over laughing
and we’re running in and out
and we hooie hooie hooie
then we think we are some chickens
then we’re singing in the opera then
we’re going going going going ooie ooie ooie.
|Thomas Girtin, Interior of Lindisfarne Priory, 1797|
|Thomas Girtin, Guisborough Priory, Yorkshire 1801|
|Thomas Girtin, Ouse Bridge, York|
The great folks at Flying Eye sent me this book a while back, and I’ve been staring at it for weeks. Months. It’s enchanting. And simple. And complex. And a huge restoration effort, which was a bit mind-blowing to understand. That’s why I consulted the experts.
But if you don’t know Dahlov Ipcar and her bright body of work, check this out first:
Because her original plates were lost long ago, Flying Eye figured out a way to bring this story to many new readers. It’s remarkable. Here’s my conversation with Sam Arthur, Flying Eye’s Managing Director. And of course, some really beautiful art. (Click any of the images to enlarge.)
Can you describe the original way the art was created? I understand it to be color separated plates, but is that the best way to describe it? Sort of like a silkscreen process?
The original separations would have been created on drafting film or trace paper. In this way the process is very similar to preparing artwork for a silkscreen process. The main difference being that offset lithography allows for subtler more detailed textures than most screen printing processes as the ‘screen’ (meaning dots that make up the image – also known as half tone) is made up with smaller dots. I think Dahlov made her original artwork using mixed media, collage, pastel brush and wash.
So the original art was unavailable, I assume? Can you describe the steps in the process to remaster the work?
The original artwork had been lost over the years, so our challenge was to recreate the new book using artwork from finished books that were from the original print runs (printed in the early 60s). All of the information we required was in these books. Most publishers would have simply scanned the images and printed them using standard CMYK reproduction (a composite image made up of dots using cyan, magenta, yellow and black). Our intentions were different, we wanted to produce the book in the same way as the original, which used 4 different special spot colours (or Pantone colours as they are now called).
In order to reproduce the book using the original printing technique, we had to recreate the original separations from the flattened, printed artwork. That was the tricky bit, we had to scan the artwork at very high resolution and then using photoshop un-pick the colours and put them into separate layers. The difficult thing is where the colours overlap each other, sometimes it’s difficult to see and it helps to have the original book to hand. So in the end the process uses photoshop selection tools, but also hand retouching. It’s a skilled job.
How many people worked on this? How long did it take and how long was it in the works?
The first book we did was The Wonderful Egg and it took 5 weeks to complete all of the images. There were two of us working on it, but we had a tight schedule and when it came to working on I Like Animals we had to call on three others to help us meet our deadline.
Was the way color was printed in the 1950s and 1960s drastically different from today? How?
In the 50s and 60s most of children’s books that were illustrated were printed using separations created by the illustrator. As time went on and technology improved illustrator’s artwork would be photographed and translated into CMYK separations using a photographic process. In the early days presumably this process was more expensive than simply asking illustrators to provide their own separations. Many children’s books also had a 4/2 colour scheme – meaning half of the book would include 4 colour images and the other half would have 2 colour images. This would save money in the printing process and also give the illustrator slightly less work to do on the 2 colour images. It does give these books a nice rhythm as you turn the pages. It was a practical consideration that has fed into the aesthetic, that’s quite interesting in itself.
I’m curious if you got any backlash for republishing something with incorrect factual information? As a reader (and a librarian!) I love the choice, and see such value in preserving a particularly lovely era in picture books, but I wonder if you received any negative feedback. (Hope not.)
We have had a few comments, not really negative ones, more observations of the change in thought on the origin of dinosaurs etc. I think most people realise quickly that it’s an old title, so there is different kind of appeal when reading it. Also as I stated above the key story behind the egg, is still relevant in today’s thinking.
Why did you all decide to remaster this book, and are there plans for others as well? (We are thankful and we are hopeful, too!)
We decided to remaster this book as it felt quite contemporary in it’s treatment of the subject matter even though knowledge of the subject has changed, but the key message is still widely accepted in palaeontology. The illustrations are beautiful and we wanted to Dahlov’s this work to a new generation. This year we also released her book I Like Animals, next year we will be re-publishing Black & White and Wild & Tame Animals also by Dahlov Ipcar.
Cool, right? What a legacy! Big thanks to Flying Eye for gathering us all around the campfire in celebration of great stories.
And speaking of color separations, check out this post at Seven Impossible Things for a look at how Jonathan Bean is doing the same thing in a contemporary picture book. Unreal. But very real, which is the great news.
Thanks to the folks at Flying Eye (Tucker, Sam, and Emily!) for the images in this post. I received a copy of The Wonderful Egg, but all thoughts are my own.
Zack Rock and I haunt some of the same circles on the internet. I have a tshirt with his work on it thanks to Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves (how cool is that header?), and I have long admired his work thanks to some tea time at Seven Impossible Things here and here. And once upon a time in 2012, Zack wrote a hilarious joke for a Hallowtweet contest run by Adam Rex and Steven Malk.
I remember that well, cause in fun-facts-here-at-Design-of-the-Picture-Book both Julie Falatko and I were runners-up in that contest, and the real prize was getting her friendship. Start of an era, for sure. (Although Zack did get an original piece of Adam Rex art, and we’d both admit to coveting that a little. See below!)
So. I’ve had my eye out for this book for years. Years! And I was so happy that Zack spent some time chatting with me about this smorgasbord of stuff and story. He also said he “answered the living daylights” out of these questions, so I sure hope you enjoy the living daylights out of them like I did.
One thing I know that’s true of kids is that they love a billion teensy and scrutinize-able details in books. Your book starts out with such cool stuff on the endpapers, that I almost (only almost) don’t want to keep going! Do you have any kind of catalog for these curiosities, or did you just create anything and everything that felt right? Is there a backstory for each of these elements?!
I drew whatever felt right, “right” being subject to how exhausted my imagination was at the time. And though I’d like to leave the history of the curios up to the readers’ interpretation, I carry a backstory for each in my mind—some more convoluted than others.
For instance, in the museum there’s an antique, penny arcade cabinet inspired by the Musée Mécanique, which houses scores of these old contraptions in San Francisco. So to honor them, I fitted my museum’s machine with a tiny, top-hatted automaton of one of SF’s most curious citizens: Norton I, self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States of America (a real guy). So plenty of thought went into that curio.
(I love the way this whole book starts. I feel like I’m in really good hands.)
Thanks! I like to consider myself the Allstate of illustrators.
What’s your studio like? Do you have trinkets and tschotskes or a cool window view?
Believe it or not, I’m allergic to collecting stuff, so my studio is bare as a monk’s cell. My mother, however, has a fondness/compulsion for antiquing in bulk; almost none of her massive collection of furniture and doodads got past the door of my childhood home without having first seen several generations of use. It lent the crowded house an air of the same well-worn nostalgia that permeates the pages of my book.
Surely you’ve hidden some easter eggs in these pages. Any hints? Any behind-the-scenes stories?
Now I regret not hiding an actual Easter Egg in the museum. Honestly, nearly everything in the book is an Easter Egg, since there’s a secret story encased in each curio. But instead of cracking those open, I’ll share a behind-the-scenes tour of the book’s present day setting.
I created the book while living in Seattle, and Pacific Northwest references are littered throughout it. The license plate on the VW Bug in the first scene reads “FRMTTRL,” an allusion to the massive concrete Fremont Troll lurking beneath the Seattle’s Aurora Bridge. The museum exterior is based on the old town hall in Bellingham, WA, and the fictional island it crashed on is named for Washington State’s notorious children’s writer, Sherman Alexie. A Washington State ferry, the Olympic Mountains, a totem pole from Pike Place Market, and a handful of other Puget Sound souvenirs also make an appearance in the book.
This book has a real undercurrent of ignored things being a treasure with a story. Are you a treasure hunter or a treasure-leaver-for-somebody-else? (I think that’s what making books is, so you are that one for sure. I guess what I’m asking is why do you think HHH was such a collector of stories, and do you see any parallels in your own life of creative curating?)
Ooo, books as treasures to be discovered, I like that! Makes me sound like a pirate.
Homer is an underdog; nobody would look at him and assume his adventures extend beyond an expedition to the local sushi restaurant. He identifies himself with the object’s he curates, so he surrounds himself with the lost and neglected, and by exhibiting their rich history to the world he literally shares his own biography.
What came first to you in this story: words or pictures? Can you talk to being a picture book creator who deals with both parts? (And in case anyone’s wondering, my favorite line is this one: My luggage may be dusty. But my hat still fits.)
Ha, that’s the one line written entirely by my editor Aaron! He suggested it while editing the book, and I thought it was great too, so we kept it in.
Being an author/illustrator isn’t terribly different than being solely a writer, the main distinction is that you have a visual language to express the story as well. So I can employ the duel butterfly nets of text and images to capture the picture book ideas that flutter into view, jotting notes alongside small thumbnail sketches as I try to pin down plot/character/theme details. It becomes a balancing act of seeing which of the two, words or images, best conveys what needs to be communicated. What’s your creative process like? Any weird routines? What’s your medium of choice?
My only real habit—creative or otherwise—are the nightly walks I take after work, allowing my legs and mind to wander. In fact, I got the original idea for Homer Henry Hudson during one of these constitutionals.
And for picture books I work almost exclusively in watercolor, though for other projects I work in pen and ink, digitally, or with accidental food stains.
Who are your literary and artistic heroes?
They’re all in the book! Along with Shaun Tan, Maurice Sendak and Lisbeth Zwerger—who I painted into a restaurant scene—there’s references to Søren Kierkegaard, Jorges Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Renee Magritte, Herman Melville, JD Salinger, George Orwell, Ingmar Bergman, Charles Schulz, and of course, Homer. Even my favorite comedian, Paul F Tompkins, whose podcasts kept me company during the long hours of illustrating the book, has a cameo as a pipe-smoking painting.
Do you have a favorite piece of artwork hanging in your house? Or a favorite tune that feels like art?
A few years ago, Adam Rex held a contest to see who could fit the best Halloween haiku into the constraints of a tweet. To my surprise he picked mine, and to my utter flabbergastination he went on to illustrate it and sent me the original art! It’s incredible. I framed it above my art desk as a reminder that, with hard work and dedication to my craft, I may one day hope to be the poor man’s Adam Rex.
Why books for kids?
One of the most valuable skills to possess is the ability to approach the world and its inhabitants with wonder, curiosity and interest. What’s great about kids is that they do this naturally and without being self-conscious. My hope is that Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum and future books will be something readers carry with them as they grow older and are tempted to lose that wonder, reminders there’s so much more to the world, the things in it, and yourself to discover if you approach life with an open heart.
Another book for Creative Editions about the power of stories, this time from the perspective of an acrobatic pig.
How can we buy your book?
What did I miss?
There are humanoid pears hanging in the first illustration of the museum interior, bottom of the page. Look past the table leg and Grecian urn. See that? It’s a butt!I’m pretty sure that’s the first butt mention on this blog. Have any treasure-hunters? Or fans of hidden picture art? Since we all love talking dogs, this book is a great choice for all readers everywhere.
|Prismatic Palette by Leslie Watkins|
|Landscape by Frank Vincent Dumond|
|Dumond, Christ and the Fishermen, 1891|
|From Pinterest via Outdoor Painter|
It’s hot in Los Angeles. Like, super really really hot. That’s why this book is an especially welcome reprieve. A book with snow in it? Please. A book with cool blues and winter scenes? Yes.
This is Fox’s Garden.
A lone fox, stark red against the white forest. A house in the distance, swirling with the colors of home and twilight. Frightened grownups chase him away. A boy cloaked in red, watching and waiting and caring.
And the pictures. My French is un peu rusty, but according to Princesse Camcam’s blog, these have got to be cut paper illustrations, lit and photographed. They are intricate and textured, perfect layers for this story of a fox and his friend.
Remember when we talked about complementary colors setting the tone and mood? The rich red of the fox is set apart so dramatically from the snowy scene and the stark greenhouse. It’s a mood, and it’s a strong one. It’s so pretty, too.
Keep an eye on Enchanted Lion, folks. They are in the business of making beautiful books.
Be kind to a chased-away stranger today.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
More from P is for Pirate as we count down to Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19th! I’ll be presenting a pirate program at Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe, PA, Friday & Saturday September 19th & 20th.
Here is D is for Davy Jones from sketch to final painting. Sorry about the color in my progress shots—must’ve been at night and I forgot to switch the flash on. You can see I based my version of Davy Jones on an 1892 ink drawing by John Tenniel from the British humor magazine, Punch. Tenniel is the guy who drew the famous illustrations for Alice In Wonderland.
Blog reader Diego Conte says:
|Martín Rico y Ortega, watercolor|
I was just thinking that it’s not the perfect flower I look for in my photography, it’s the perfect feeling, same with my friends, they all have little flaws just like me but when I close my eyes and think of them I only know the sweet essence of their perfection and see how wonderful life is to let me see them … Love you all !
Arbi asks: "Could you please explain about 'complementary shadows?' Some attribute complementary shadows to the Impressionist habit of painting the reflected color of blue sky in shadows, and others attribute it to simultaneous-contrast. Is it real? Do you use it in your painting, and how do you implement it?"
|These are all from the shadow side of a white building. From the post "A White Building in Shadow"|
by Lizi Boyd (Chronicle Books, 2014.)
I really love Lizi Boyd’s work. It’s this perfect mix of oh, of course and oh, I never. Once upon a time I wrote about Inside Outside over on Design Mom, and I’ve been looking forward to this new book for a good while. It’s a great thing to have room for more.
And can you stop looking at that cover? I can’t. It’s beckoning, it’s comforting, it’s hurry-up-and-get-adventuring.
So I was lucky enough to have a chat with Lizi Boyd about creating books, the sound of picture books, her process, and her dogs. Thanks for welcoming your book to the world with us this way, Lizi.
One night when I was working on Inside Outside I realized the dogs had been out for a long time. It was very dark and I took a flashlight to look for them. I heard noises in the field and when I flashed the light suddenly there was color; their eyes, collars, the apples and grasses. It was so cool! And then I thought, oh, a book. I couldn’t wait to get inside and google around to see if it had been done. It seemed so utterly simple and wonderful. I began the sketches for it the next day. So, yes, Inside Outside influenced the idea because in working on that book it was utterly quiet and still in my studio and that encouraged the idea for Flashlight.How do you know when something is working, and how do you know when something is overworked?
When it’s a wordless book I need to just go along with a very quiet head and allow the idea to tell itself. I actually have to ‘see’, by making the drawings, where it’s going to take me. And I need a completely empty house because my studio is in our house.
Mostly I know when to pause and wait it out or take the dogs for a good long walk and think about what I’m working on. That being said I just filled up a box with sketches for other projects that are little beginnings and seem not to be ready to tell me what they’re about and where they’d like to go.
Why do you think your stories are best suited to the form of the picture book? And specifically in Flashlight, I feel like a sensibility exists with the excitement and adventure of something so seemingly dangerous: the night, the dark, the strange creatures. Can you talk to that a bit?
It hadn’t occurred to me until I was making Inside Outside that a book and its story could belong to the readers ‘telling of the story’ not just the one the author is writing and illustrating. Picture books are all about this but I want to see how far I can stretch this idea. So I’ll surprise you by saying that the nighttime element; the dark, the strange creatures, a sense of danger was never part of my thinking. My sons weren’t afraid of the dark. The notebook I kept while working on Flashlight has these words; story + imagination + silence. Sound/elemental. A book one can ear if one really listens. (One does ‘hear’ books!)Can you talk about the physical design of the book? The paper, the ink, how you got such lush blacks (which I think is difficult!) and how you engineered the peeks and surprises of the die cuts? Did the design of the book drive what had to happen in the story or vice versa?
I tried out several shades of gray / black papers and settled on the blackest one. I loved the way the beam of the light popped and the colors too, all of which needed to be painted over several times to get their finished strength. The die cuts were made with templates so on the finished illustrations there weren’t any holes just a tracing of where the cuts would be made. This part was difficult and there were quite a few changes done by Sarah Gillingham, art director, with her brilliant eye and computer skills! Many of the die cuts surprised us.
What are some of your favorite books and/or art from childhood? What is your favorite piece of art hanging in your home or studio?
I grew up in an artistic, visually inspired house. Our mother was a mid-century potter who moved her studio from NYC to VT. There were lots of books every kind; art, nature, children’s books and interesting objects of design all around us.
I love primitive masks and have a few real beauties. (A man recently came with his five-year-old son and said, “Do these masks frighten you?” – something that hadn’t occurred to me. His son was so busy with his iPad that I don’t think he noticed them. Maybe they could have frightened him away from his iPad for a moment?)What modern picture books do you look to for inspiration and encouragement?
I have a stack of picture books in the studio. My friends, far and wide, send me books from everywhere; France, Italy, Germany. And I have some new ones from Chronicle, all exquisite; the printing, the paper and the design. Flashlight became the book it is because of Chronicle’s eye, care and hand in the myriad production details.And take a look at this lovely trailer for more of a sense of Flashlight’s magic.
To all of our boxes of little beginnings!
Thanks to Chronicle Books for the images, a review copy of the book, and connecting me to Lizi Boyd. Thoughts and opinions my own.