Tuesday, 26 January 2010
The last few days have been a fast - but not too frantic - whirl of checking and double checking and yesterday - DELIVERING - the final art for Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake. Yes! Book three is finished (subject to any small adjustments required - and I'm sure there will be some). It's a wonderful bittersweet feeling to finish a book. Wistfully I wondered as I drew the last figure of Ella Bella whether it would really be the final time I let my nib follow the curve of her little cheek.
But no; Orchard books are already considering her future. Happily Cinderella sold well, indeed the entire print run was sold by the beginning of December, so Orchard are happy to consider further adventures for Ella Bella. Top of the list is probably The Nutcracker, although I'm putting in a good word for The Firebird and La Boutique Fantasque, both of which I think Ella would enjoy. Time will tell. But for now it's time to muck out the studio (It looks like a giant Guinea Pig has been living in here) and relax a little after all those late nights. Posted here is a sneak preview of one the first completed illustrastions, with the layers assembled. I am really looking forward to seeing the rest!
Saturday, 23 January 2010
The final little details are all that's left to do on Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake (unless Orchard books make me re-do something!). Funnily enough, the decorative borders that will go around the edge of the cover are proving especially hard to crack... and there's some hand-lettering to do as well, which I always find hard. But I'm on the last lap and I am set to deliver the whole completed thing on monday (and I'm getting taken out to lunch to celebrate!). Goodness, I hope they like it... or they might refuse to buy me a desert!
Sunday, 17 January 2010
I should finish Ella Bella this week!!! Which is just as well as my studio is shockingly untidy. One of the good things about finishing is that I can "muck out" the whole room and get things cleaned up. I always find that very theraputic after completing something big like a complicated Ella Bella book.
BUT before I can enjoy the big clean up, I still have a few little illustrations to complete. And the cover and the end papers. And I also need to go over all the illustrations and double double check that everything is properly finished and that I am satisfied that I have done my very best. It's a sort of quality control I suppose, and it's because I always worry about keeping things consistant, which is actually very hard.
So I must survive in this mess for a few more days yet!
Monday, 11 January 2010
Sorting through some papers I was shocked to come across these very early pictures of Ella Bella. How different she looks here! These are the very first drawings I ever did, before writing a story or doing any of the considerable research I undertook before developing Ella as she appears today.
While these are competent enough they are rather ordinary. I wanted Ella to be more special somehow, the character more charming and easily recognisable. Above all, I felt these drawings were just too close to the illustrations for Katie. Nevertheless, I emphatically did not want to develop a "style" that was at odds with who I am and the way I draw. But research into vintage printing processes and retro design inspired me to try using different techniques and approaches to composition. I learned to be less literal and conventional. The drawing remains MY drawing in both Katie and Ella Bella books. But the different techniques create a whole different atmosphere. It's been a wonderful journey of experimenting and learning.
Now, as I move towards completion with Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake, it feels like I've always illustrated like this. But when I see these early drawings, I'm so glad I pushed myself that little extra mile to see what I was capable of. One of my many mottos has always been to never say: "Oh, that'll do".
Friday, 8 January 2010
Here are some work in progress pictures of the art for Ella Bella Ballerina book three. Firstly, three layers for you to use your imagination with. What will they look like together? I don't know!!!
And meanwhile, in my darkened studio with only a lamp under my glass table, visions of castles and queens, and princesses from many lands begin to emerge, together with swans and lakes of course.
As usual, all art is created in strange layers which together take on a new life of their own. In some ways I enjoy the element of surprise and serendipity. I'm starting to get excited about it all, even though it is such hard work (especially on the eyes with the strange dim light. Only three weeks left before my final deadline... but I'm gaining ground and starting to feel reasonably confident that it will all work out. Fingers crossed!
Saturday, 2 January 2010
The light an artist uses is usally crucial, and I know of artists who only paint with natural light. When the snow fell there was much enhanced light, especially when the sun shone. But it was of little use to me. For Ella Bella I have to work in a darkened room, light shining from a lamp under my glass-topped table through the different layers of art. It's draining and tiring work. My eyes get very sore. But it's the only way I can make the technique work and make sure the three layers are correctly positioned.
With only four weeks left and still over half of the book to illustrate I am trying not to panic! The illustrations are going well (I think)... just a bit too slowly!!!
Here you can see work in progress - hard to decipher, but I hope when printed all will come into focus and make sense.