Monday, 11 April 2016

Serendipity: a Mistake Makes Things Better!

As you probably already know, I am working on my artwork in a rather random order. Actually, it's not random to me: it's about content on the page, rather than story progression, but it probably looks random from the outside. Having drawn the smelly muck heap spreads, I went back a bit and tackled the farmer and the prickly haystack. I wanted to get the look of the muck heap under my belt first, then I could ensure that the haystack looked sufficiently different.

This was a lovely bold spread, so much easier to tackle in pastels. It another one where the background will be dropped in later, in a nice, bold colour, which is why there is so much of my pink paper visible. I have already established the look of both the farmer and the bull in earlier spreads, which made things even easier.

When that was finished, I thought I would go back to the other spread where that same gate appears: spread 2. As you can see, the muck heap is just being delivered to the field, complete with stowaway piglet. At this stage, Class One are still oblivious to the bull, though the reader can't fail to notice him glaring through the gate bars:

Of course, this was a much fiddlier piece to do and, in the end, it took nearly 3 days to get all the detail in. The pastel 'clogs' after a while: you can only build it up so much, then you have to use fixative, which allows you to continue to layer over the top. Having fixed it when it was 2/3rds finished, I had to more or less rework everything, to bring back the brightness of the colour. A bit of a nightmare, especially when there is this much going on. Fixative has always been an unfortunately necessary evil.

Here it is on my desk, with the rough I always mount alongside, for guidance. That will allow you to read Julia Jarman's text:

Before people send me messages pointing out that I've 'missed a bit', the writing has been left off the sign on the gate deliberately - you always leave text off picture book artwork, so it will work for foreign editions. I will create the 'Beware of the Bull' text separately, so it can be taken off for any translations.

You might also notice another little anomaly in that area of the illustration. In my rough, there is more of the bull showing. Actually, on my very first drawing, it was just a tail visible, as a teaser, but my art director thought we should see a bit more of him. My re-work of that rough is the one above. However, when I was preparing to start the artwork, tracing the image onto the pink paper, using my lightbox, I forgot to trace the bull's body! I noticed my error in plenty of time, but thought it actually looked better. With just his face, it looks like he's hiding, and yet he's perilously near to the boy, which I think will amuse my young readers.

So, I coloured up the spread with just the bull's head showing and have sent the photo to my art director to see if they agree. I can easily add the body back in if they would rather. Cross fingers they like it as it is!


three shooting stars said...

Yep, I also think it looks better without the rest of the bull's body... More suspense!

Mark said...

I agree that it looks better with just the head! Question: how would you go about adding the body if your art director requested it? Freehand or tracing? Just curious as to how exacting you are when working with final pieces. I'd also like to know more about your transfer method, perhaps I'll poke around your site to see if you've discussed it previously. I'm guessing you simply trace the image onto your pastel paper using a lightbox, but I'd assume the paper would be too thick to see through it - maybe I'm wrong on that.
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work - it's so inspiring, fascinating and encouraging to see a successful artist working with traditional media!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Sorry Mark - I didn't pick up your question at the time. Just spotted it!

Yes, I trace up on a big lightbox, so everything is exact. The pink paper can be a bit tricky to see through if the room is too light: on a sunny day, I have to pull all the blinds and mask out any areas of the lightbox not covered by the paper.

If I was adding back the bull's body in this piece though, I would probably just do it by eye.

So pleased that you like my work. Sorry to take so long to get back with a response.