November Hedge a Gram

                                             November Hedge a gram

Happy November!

       As the first day of each month rolls around, I think about what I can tell young artists and writers about my life as an illustrator.  When I was little I was curious about what it would be like to be an artist.  That's why I make a Hedge a gram for you each month.
     I just came back from New York City, where my publisher, Penguin/Putnam is located.  I met with Margaret, my editor and Cecilia my art director about next year's book, The Umbrella.  I complete each year's book about 9 or 10 months before it appears in bookstores, so I'm just finishing up on The Umbrella, even though it won't be out until fall of 2004.  The three of us looked at the 22 pages I've finished, and since we are all striving for something better we were looking at ways to improve my illustrations.  It's helpful for me to step back and look at my book through other people's eyes.  Sometimes, I stand my ground and keep something in even though it might have an aspect that Margaret or Cecilia doesn't like.  Other times they point out something that I really knew needed to be changed, but I was too lazy to do it.  I like it the best though, when they see something that slipped by.  What a surprise!
     You may have a similar relationship with your teachers.  In fact, I think I share the same challenges as kids do.  I want to be open and learn, but I also want to be free to experiment and use my imagination.   Sometimes an idea will come along that no one has thought of, and it takes time to catch on.   I would like to encourage all of you to use your imaginations and experiment with your drawing.
    For The Umbrella, which is set in the rain forest of Costa Rica, I used a very dark, small range of colors as the background, mostly green as you could probably guess.  Each painting is either in the shape of a leaf, or it has an undulating wavy shape, and I've added all of the wonderful brightly colored animals from the forest.  I did this to balance all of the dark colors of the rain forest foliage.  I've never designed anything like this before and I got a good feeling from trying something new.
     I would get a very, very good feeling if you sat down and tried a new approach or technique in your stories and artwork.
     Good luck,
                                  Your friend who loves to draw,

                                               Jan Brett