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:
Two years ago I had heaps of fun putting together a pop-up sketchbook. This year I went through a bunch of fancy ideas involving the Shark cull cause and then taking sentences from a novel. But it was all too hard and I wasn’t getting on with it. So I’ve gone with the self-indulgent theme instead because it suits me. So here are the first few pages. Snap shots of my life. The collage is fun but it has to go because I’m supposed to have 16 sketches by the end of next week.
I cycled up a really big hill.
We went to dinner with some gorgeous friends who have built a house in a beautiful rural setting. They said they were over run with rabbits that helped themselves to the fruit on the trees.
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.
Last year I illustrated a book named ‘A Secret Safe to Tell’. I must admit it was a confronting a difficult book to illustrate but it felt like the right thing to do. Since the book was published earlier this year I have had the pleasure of getting to know the author and now consider her a good friend. She and her husband have worked tirelessly to promote the book and its message. It aims to encourage children who are victims of abuse to speak out and find some one they trust. The books words and illustrations are not scary or inaccessible to children in any way. In my experience it allows children to talk about important questions and issues freely.
I have been continually amazed at how much Naomi Hunter (the author) has promoted the book through radio and press interviews. We are all very excited that she has been interviewed by the current affairs program ‘The Project’. It will be aired on Channel 10 Thursday 9th October at 6.30pm.
At the beginning of the year I made a plan to get out and draw in public on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday. But things didn’t go according to plan. Drawing in public proved to be too much of challenge and I just wasn’t motivated to do it. But I found something so much more rewarding to do on Tuesdays. A Life Drawing class has been going on in Mornington for over 20 years. They have artists of all abilities and ages. We spend four hours drawing the same model and it is fabulous. I have been four times now and each time I develop more freedom with drawing. So Tuesdays have changed.
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