May Hedge a gram

 Happy May,

     It's my favorite month and I have lots to say about what's happening in my life as an illustrator.  Many people have wisely said, "Write about what you know."  In my case, my stories come from the picture side.  Translate "Write what I know." to "Draw what I know!"  Ever since I was little, I liked to draw imaginary planets.  I remember one picture that I was especially proud of where instead of trees, giant mushrooms grew.  When I got the idea of Hedgie going to outer space, I was excited about inventing the planet where the story would take place.
    Right now, I'm constructing the dummy or cartoon version of my book.  It's an artistic plan, with a beginning, middle and end.  It is even glued together like a book.   I am planning how Hedgie  and the scientists at his lab will look.  I usually bring my new young hedgehog, Astro,  into my art room.  He sits on my lap and gives me ideas.  This is my second dummy.  The first one, which I presented to the art director and my editor at the publisher, wasn't getting off the ground.  I saved a lot of ideas, but changed the story around.  I had to try my hardest!
    Drawing mechanical things and machines doesn't come naturally to me, so I tried to find an environment that would help me.  My husband, Joe and I went to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.  It was very motivating to see the energy and imagination of the scientists and astronauts.   We walked through pieces of the space station, and saw the shuttle on the launch pad.  There was a model of part of the orbiter that we could walk into.  When Hedgie goes to outer space in my book, to accommodate my drawing style, the art will look more like a comic book than an artist's rendering of the complex machines I saw at Kennedy Space Center.  Hedgie's story has a light touch and needs the reader's imagination for fuel!   I like to think that inside my story of Hedgie's adventure, some of my admiration for space explorers shines through.
     I found out about a valuable resource at the Space Center, which is the photographs from the  Hubble Space Telescope are on a website.  I think they are fantastic.
       Maybe you have a space adventure you'd like to tell.  You could sit down with paper and art materials, and a few hours later a new planet would exist.  One of the thousands of tiny dots of light in the night sky, could be the sun your planet revolves around.  When your friends ask what you've been up to, you can say "Creating another world!"
     Happy drawing, your friend,

                                       Jan Brett