While Karen and I have been correcting last minute details on my art book, Drawing Down the Moon (see the post below this one) I’ve also been pretty busy at my drawing board.
Because our previous picture book, Blueberry Girl did so well (5 weeks on the NY Times bestsellers list, a summer Independent Booksellers pick, etc.) our lovely editor, Elise Howard at Harper’s asked Neil and I for another. Right away! Neil suggested Instructions, everyone agreed and so here I am deep into a intense deadline adapting the poem in 3-4 months time, instead of the 3 years it took for BG.
Originally I had thought to make our protagonist a young androgynous boy/girl.
I worked up a cover and a title page design.
But after worrying quite a bit about that visual choice taking away from the universality of Neil’s words I finally settled on the idea (thanks Joe!) of using instead, a sort of Puss-in-Boots character that could then be either male/female as well as any nationality or race.
Everyone signed off on that choice and off to the art races I went.
One very fortunate consequence of being asked to limit my color choices was my decision to NOT try to be totally naturalistic in those choices. The pure red wolves above are an example. You’ll see LOTS more as we go along.
I also started experimenting with watercolor pencils as a medium. You draw with them exactly as you would with colored pencils but then you can play a brush dipped in water over them to dissolve that color. It’s really a lot of fun to play with!
Here’s my rough pencils for an art spread that I would first try them out on…
Then the actual finished color. It certainly adds a lot of texture that I just couldn’t get with my inks.
Note: There are four and twenty blackbirds in that tree. Go ahead, count them. And can anyone guess who that small dancing figure is in the crook of the tree limb is?
Of course there were a few false starts along the way…
The giant became a witch cooking a bit of unsavory flesh for her meal.
And here’s a particularly nasty wood, with a few cavorting beasties, all in red too…
Right now, I’m a little over half way through the art chores on the book but I’m pretty much on track to meeting my deadline.
Instructions will be out late next March so look for it then, okay?