Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Little Women

Working on the beginnings of a project: the Tomie de Paola annual illustration award for SCBWI. The start of a project is both exciting and nerve-wracking for me. I don't like the blank slate feeling but on the other hand I love researching projects. I like illustration rather than fine art because there's usually a guideline involved. The client or the project sets a limit ie: a picture book about teenage ferrets or an educational coloring book set in Nepal. Then my favorite part, the research begins. Googling away, learning new things. This is always fun.
Then I have to put a limit on it. Let the sketching begin. Unfortunately, even the best illustrators (and I'm not putting myself in that category) have to begin with roughs. And rough they are. One has to swallow pride and accept that the first efforts look like dog food at best.

With this year's Tomie de Paola project, illustrators were given three books to choose from: Tom Sawyer, Little Women or The Yearling. Now I have read none of these books. Yup, I'm illiterate... no, of course not (hah!)....just grew up under a bush in the outback. Hey, I've read David Copperfield, Huck Finn, and Phantom Tollbooth but none of those others. Somehow it escaped me. So, I chose Little Women. I always had a soft spot for the Transcendentalist/Concord bunch plus I liked the idea of illustrating 19thc. clothing. It was hard reading at first, with all the constraints placed on women in those days. Thank god for Jo, the only rebel in the family. She pulled me through the book. All in all, I'm glad I read it and I may even re-read it with my girls.

Then I had to choose a passage from the book. This was difficult, since there were so many possibilities. One could go in a million directions. I chose the moment Beth receives a piano from Mr. Laurence. She's such a humble character and loved music, so it will (hopefully) be a touching scene.
My roughs are so rough that I hesitate to include them here. But I'm including them here just to prove how infantile the beginning stages are in any project. I wonder if well known illustrators had such trouble. Did Maxfield Parish or Norman Rockwell ever produce such sketchiness?

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