Happy February!

      Every month I mark the first day by gathering my thoughts about what I'm accomplishing as a children's author and illustrator, and what's next! I put in an exclamation point because I am full of a lot of bottled up energy about CINDERS, the book I'm just finishing, and the coming year's book project.
      I have one and 1/2 double page spreads to finish on CINDERS, plus all the corrections and continuity fixes. I work from a dummy, that I make early on in my book building process. Its in sketch form, and I leave many details for when I work on the final paintings. For example, every book has a subtle color palette. In this book I had three elements of color that I knew were going to be influential. One is the white/blue of the ice and snow. It would be in all the outside scenes, the borders, and the interiors of the Ice palace. Then, there is Cinders dress. I wanted her to be light, innocent and bride-like. She would be competing with all the other chickens in their colorful Russian finery, and I wanted her to stand out. I created a dress befitting a princess in white and pink. Then, there is the orange pumpkin. Orange is a more fiery, southern color, and when I saw white pumpkins at Halloween I thought that maybe a white pumpkin would be an option. However, it didn't ring true when I painted the pumpkin. As a child, the part of the Cinderella story I liked best was the transformation of the mice, pumpkin and rat to coach, footman and coachman. I was especially pleased to think she could ride in a sleigh, it being set in a Russian winter. Since I wanted a connection between the sleigh and pumpkin, I knew it would have to carry the same colors especially orange. In Saint Petersburg, I was lucky enough to see some old Russian sleighs in the museum of Ethnography. So my three colors are white/blue, pink and orange. Two other colors played minor rolls, the dark blue black of the night sky, and the soft yellow of the hay in the chicken house. When the book is about half completed, we (my editor, art director, and designer, Margaret, Cecilia and Marikka) start thinking about the jacket design, probably the most important image in the book. That is when some of the colors that tell the story can be used, and they will add to personality of the book.
     I think of myself as an illustrator before being an author, or more accurately, I tell my story in pictures. You can see how colors are like characters, and how I can shape characters by using color. Prince Cockerel, being royal wears purple, and I made sure he was the only character that does except Cinders on the very last page, but then, she's a princess. At least I hope they got married! Maybe Cinderella?s wedding would be the subject for another book.
     Thank you everyone for entering the contest on my website, for a school visit. I will never forget the wonderful people in Windsor, Newfoundland where I visited last spring. Next time I go, I would like to drive and go on the ferry, so I can stop and see things, and go out whale and bird watching. There is one Moose for every 4 people in Newfoundland, so I would hope to see a Moose as well. Windsor is not a large town, so don't get discouraged about the contest if your community is not large.  The website tabulates how many ?likes" they have put on the Facebook page.
     My husband Joe is working on a video that will show how to draw Cinders, and some of the scenes we saw in Russia and how they were transformed in my studio to become part of a chicken fairy tale. I will also have Cinders (real name Eddie, Prince Cockerel (Elof) and a few other of my poultry stars and starlets to show you. My friend Janet, who raises Silkies, is going to let me have a pair of her beautiful whites.  The video should be up by April!

Happy Creating, your friend, 

         Jan Brett