This is my November hedge a gram - the time I take each month to tell
you about what is happening in my life as an illustrator.
It's been quite a few months now that I have been talking about working on
the finishes, or completed pages for my spring 2010 book, THE EASTER EGG. It's
probably hard to imagine that book authors and illustrators work so far in
advance, or that it takes so long to paint the pictures. I might spend the
whole day just painting one rabbit holding an egg, like I did today.
I recently went to my publisher, Penguin Putnam, in New York City to review
the book pages I have done so far. We have a huge conference table to spread
the art out on and we move around the table looking at the pages, comparing one
with another and trying to flag any image that looks confusing, or doesn't
reflect the text. Since I'm the author, I always have the option of changing
the text, but that rarely happens by default. Sometimes we'll change the text
if it furthers the story line and gives the characters more oomph. In one
spread for example, I picture Hopi, the young rabbit racing toward a mother
robin who is flying frantically around her egg which has fallen from her next.
I also drew the father robin flying around looking upset. We decided to take
out father robin because the page was overly complex. In a few days there will
be a patch of sky and ferns where father robin once flew. One of the biggest
challenges is to make the rabbits look happy. Since rabbits have furry, puffy
muzzles (the part where their whiskers stick out from), the mouth area is hidden
from view. I will try to show their expressions in their eyes.
The editor, art director, and I looked over my jacket sketch. It was
approved and I will start on it when I come home from my book tour, which takes
up a good part of November. I have always been drawn to eggs, in all shapes and
sizes, and I am looking forward to drawing a wreath of eggs around Hoppi for the
In the last few weeks, I have been talking to journalists about my book
signings across the country. My husband, Joe, and I have been working for weeks
to get everything ready. We have lots to bring to make the signings fun. I
bring an easel and markers so I can give a drawing lesson. We have buttons for
everyone, bookplates for extra books, 100 posters for each book signing and
newsnotes about GINGERBREAD FRIENDS for all who attend. I hope everyone will
like our free place holder tickets to remember the day.
Drawing and writing are free, they don't cost anything, and that kind of
creativity is one passtime that makes a person fell alive and vibrant. It may
be that thinking about how we spend out time can be a life changing experience.
Instead of going to the movies - write a play with your friends. A few hours at
the library may give you an idea for a project that you can make with materials
you already have and I can't say enough about the lowly pencil. A pencil
creates a warm gray line that can be erased or darkened. Many times I have
tried to mix my watercolors to match that beautiful pencil lead gray. On its
side, the pencil makes nuanced shading. By controlling the pressure of your
hands you can darken or lighten your line, and end a stroke with a feathery
touch or a staccato barb. One year on my book tour, a young girl showed me a
pencil drawing all made up of dots that she had done. It was not like the
French impressionists who used pointillism as a technique, which also has small
dots. It was her own texture invention. It's fun to explore techniques and
unleash ideas that may surprise and delight you. As I travel down the down the
road on my tour bus, doing the line drawings for my GINGERBREAD FRIENDS mural,
I'll be thinking of all the kids at home drawing away. Give it a chance!
You'll be glad you did.