Monday, May 16, 2011

Illustration

He really does look like he's staring me down, doesn't he?

My critique partner should have seen this one coming =). Lisa (one of my critters) asked me a couple months ago if I would like to illustrate her children's book, ALIEN BABY. (No the above picture doesn't belong to that book, but I'll get there).

Well, my first thoughts were: ARE YOU CRAZY? I'm not a good enough artist to go about illustrating someone's book! I felt very insecure, the time didn't feel right (as I'm working on YA at the moment, too), and I would feel very very bad if I screwed up her whole book. I also had this huge event I was planning with my husband for our church, painting posters, making flyers, making centerpieces, coming up with a decorating scheme. Did I mention Painting Posters?

When the event was over, I thought that maybe I COULD do it after all. Now that the impeding pressure was over with. I mean, don't I draw/paint/illustrate-my-own-crazy-objects all the time?

This was a big decision for me and one I wouldn't have talked about (except with family who I kept telling over and over again how I couldn't possibly do it and they kept nodding and saying, uh huh, sure.). But as I practiced doing both PB illustration and YA novel writing I found that I could do it. I did several practice sketches to show Lisa what I could do (thinking, you know, that she would say, "Yes, you do suck, I change my mind") and she was so surprisingly excited and 100 times more receptive to my work than I thought that I couldn't help but get excited, too. (This is the power of great Critters, people).

So, this email has a two-fold message. First: My critique partners are wonderful people. They encourage me even when I don't think I deserve it. Lisa has pushed me (and when I say push, I don't mean roughly, she gently encourages me with warm/glowing reports, helping me see my potential...sort of like my husband =). She has faith in me when I don't have faith in myself.

Second: When you really want to, you CAN do anything. Or when you put your mind to it....yadayada =).

I have always loved reading/writing/art equally. They encompass many personal passions. And I'm very excited and blessed to be doing both of the things I love most.

Now, wish me luck! This is going to be a roller-coaster ride for me.

Oh yeah, so I didn't explain the above portrait. I was getting discouraged again, even after I made my decision, wondering how I would pick a style for the book and decided I would just do a painting for fun. To let go. So, I had my kids movies up in my room ('cause they LOVE being in there for some reason) and picked up Lemony Snickets, A Series Of Unfortunate Events because I love the set design and artwork of that movie and thought it would be inspirational. Well, when it got to the part where Jim Carrey's character was showing the kids his house and trying to scare them, I couldn't help myself. I saw the creepy/perfect close up of him and had to draw it. It was perfect. His eye making a perfect circle with their fish-lense on. =) Not sure I captured it properly, but oh well. (I took exactly 2 hours to do the whole thing and probably could have spent a whole lot more...but it was late and I was tired and called it quits). So, there you have it.

Here's a question for you ,though: Don't you think that sometimes the best illustrations are just simple sketches? If you look in your favorite children's PBs I bet you'll find that a lot of them are really simple. In fact some of them might even have characters with a circle for a head, two dot eyes and a line for the mouth. Funny. I have a hard time doing that. I feel like I'm being lazy, and yet I LOVE those drawings! Mary Kole talked about this once (sorry I can't find the post). Where she said that even if an artists illustrations are simple there is a whole lot going on behind it than a few little lines. You have to know how to draw well, proportions etc, even for simple drawings.

Now, the pressure's on.

4 comments:

David Powers King said...

Simple is always intriguing, especially for children's books with lots of illustrations. Shel Silverstein's work, as an example. That was my introduction to poetry, because the drawings caught my attention.

esteewood said...

Squeeeee!! I'm so so excited. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lisa's ALIEN BABY story and I can't wait to see what you do with it! I will get to see the pics, right? Please please please. (Hmmm, I think I'm into repeating words today, huh?) Good luck, you rock!

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Estee, you are so funny. Who knew you could get so giddy =). Of COURSE I will send you the pics to look at. You are my critter after all. I will need your oppinion and the oppinion of your kids, too -k-? =)

Lisa said...

Yes...you are super talented,and I love your picture of the Lemony Snicket character. :)