Happy February!

     This is my February hedge a gram, the time I take each month to encourage all of you who are future illustrators and picture book writers.
     It is like New Year's in February for me, because I finished the art for my latest book on January 15th.  GINGERBREAD FRIENDS has a fold out panel that, because of its size took a long time and I did some extra artwork to be printed on the end papers, the decorative paper that attaches the hard cover of the book to the signatures, which are the sewn pages.  One tradition you may see in antique or hand crafted books, is the use of marbled paper.  This is a design created with watercolor inks and an oil based medium which gives a swirled abstract effect.  I've always been fascinated by cookies and cakes that are created by two different colors of dough that are mixed together.  I made my endpapers look marbleized, but when you take a closer look you can see it's two colors of gingerbread swirled together.
     Another last minute change was working on the display type, which are the big decorative letters that form the title of the book.   The designer Marikka and the art director Cecilia worked on finding a font, or letter style that looked like cookies.  They found the perfect one, but I wanted to color the letters in a slightly uneven way, just like real cookies.  After that is done, the designer may add a shadow to the letter or a crisp outline.  Check out some of your children's books to see the different treatment of type.  In the best books, the type will be eye catching and more importantly, give the reader a hint of what may lay inside.  If you go to school, consider making a cover for your next report and being creative with the style, color and character of the letters that make up the title.
     I'm also working out the text or story of my spring bunny book for 2010.  One of the things I consider is the palette or colors that will be prominent in the book.  Two past books come to mind that had unusual colors for me: THE THREE SNOW BEARS, which had many shades of white, brown and grey, colors of the Arctic and cool greens and blues from the snow and ice, and HEDGIE BLASTS OFF! which was kind of a rollicking sci-fi story.  I used orange, acid green and purple to give it an out-of-this-world feel.  The new book will be about spring and I will be using the pale greens of emerging leaves and buds as well as yellow, pink, and white, the colors of the wild flowers in the New England woods.  This spring, I'll have a good excuse to wander through The Garden in the Woods, a wildflower garden outside of Boston as well as some of our Audubon reserves to spot the delicate wild flowers of Spring.
      This month my challenge to you is to pick four or five colors that would serve your story well, and try to keep that palette.   You may find your art path going in exciting new directions when you limit your palette.
     Once I went to an art show of Matisse at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  After absorbing the images with their unique color for three hours, I went back outside only to discover his unusual colors kept popping back in my consciousness.  If was like my eyes had "Matisse" drops put into them.  His artistic vision was very strong and I know many of you have the same talent.
      Let's have fun creating, your friend.

                                       Jan Brett