Yesterday I had the absolute joy of experimenting and getting to grips with photoshop. I was motivated to reproduce a pop-up piece I did for The 52 Week Illustration Challenge last year. It came together surprisingly quickly.
This week I’ve been working on Naomi Hunter‘s new book. If you know her first picture book you’ll know that she doesn’t shy away from tackling the big issues. This one is about parenting and depression. Which sounds very sad, but it’s a book full of hope. It’s beautifully written and I really hope the pictures do it justice.
Depression and mental health are uncomfortable issues to discuss in relation to parenting. My oldest is nearly 15, so I’ve been to many playgroup sessions week after week and school mothers nights out. Predictably there’s always a lot of talk about mile-stones and achievements. The one thing you can count on not hearing is ‘Do you know what? I’m not having such a great time of things’. Parents can’t talk about not coping. It would be like admitting failure. And when you live in a gorgeous suburb by the sea, with a nice house, good jobs and healthy children….well failing to be anything but joyful and grateful is frankly not on!
Picture books often tackle the big issues. Here are some of my favourites:
I’m not going to have my annual rant about this ridiculous American borrowed custom that makes absolutely no sense at the start of the Australian summer! Whoops. The kids love it and creatively its juicy inspiration.
A few weeks ago I watched a video by an illustrator. It was a talk on her work practices. She bordered of being OCD but her approach was something I feel I’d like to adopt. It centred around systematically and routinely creating according to rules and commitment. Sounds really boring and not at all artistic but the results were often very beautiful and led on to unexpected discoveries.
It made me think of the last time I approached something in this way, unrelated to creating a book. Last year I took part in the Sketchbook Project. Despite having other work that needed to be done I somehow fitting in creating a pop-up book by hand. I had no plan for it before I started, just a set of rules. It was a diary, and by the time it was finished I was very happy with the results. It’s now archived in the New York library and I’m hoping that one of my kids will go and look it up sometime. On Tuesday this week I met an old friend who is now working in a local gallery and she said she’d printed off some examples from it for use in gallery education for kids. I don’t know how it worked but I was thrilled that it had been used in this context.
So it’s Sketchbook Project time again! The book has been sitting on my desk for quite a while so I’ve decided to impose some rules;
1/ Deadline in 8 weeks. 10th Sept.
2/ At least 2 pieces a week, sometimes 3.
3/ 18 double page spreads.
4/ Don’t overthink it. It’s a sketchbook.
5/ Use random selections of words and phrases from a favourite novel as inspiration and page titles.
6/ Each page must include collage.
7/Copy and post each page before constructing the book
Sometimes it’s really great to just empty your head and draw. I watched a little video of Shaun Tan talking about how he approaches starting a book. He said most of the time it starts with a bunch of drawings that seemingly come from nowhere. Here’s the result of my drawing daydream.
I am loving being at the creative stage of a new book. Testing out the characters, gestures and colours. This one is a lot of fun. I don’t know what happened in the uploading but these colours are totally wrong. She’s a cute little character though.
Every Tuesday I have a box of market fresh veggies delivered to the door and a cheerful wave from Scott who delivers them. This week I had a message to say that the veggies wouldn’t be delivered as his wife had had a baby. So I thought that required a congratulations card.