This is my February hedge a gram, the time I take each month to encourage
all of you who are future illustrators and picture book writers.
It is like New Year's in February for me, because I finished the art for my
latest book on January 15th. GINGERBREAD FRIENDS has a fold out panel that,
because of its size took a long time and I did some extra artwork to be printed
on the end papers, the decorative paper that attaches the hard cover of the book
to the signatures, which are the sewn pages. One tradition you may see in
antique or hand crafted books, is the use of marbled paper. This is a design
created with watercolor inks and an oil based medium which gives a swirled
abstract effect. I've always been fascinated by cookies and cakes that are
created by two different colors of dough that are mixed together. I made my
endpapers look marbleized, but when you take a closer look you can see it's two
colors of gingerbread swirled together.
Another last minute change was working on the display type, which are the
big decorative letters that form the title of the book. The designer Marikka
and the art director Cecilia worked on finding a font, or letter style that
looked like cookies. They found the perfect one, but I wanted to color the
letters in a slightly uneven way, just like real cookies. After that is done,
the designer may add a shadow to the letter or a crisp outline. Check out some
of your children's books to see the different treatment of type. In the best
books, the type will be eye catching and more importantly, give the reader a
hint of what may lay inside. If you go to school, consider making a cover for
your next report and being creative with the style, color and character of the
letters that make up the title.
I'm also working out the text or story of my spring bunny book for 2010.
One of the things I consider is the palette or colors that will be prominent in
the book. Two past books come to mind that had unusual colors for me: THE THREE
SNOW BEARS, which had many shades of white, brown and grey, colors of the Arctic
and cool greens and blues from the snow and ice, and HEDGIE BLASTS OFF! which
was kind of a rollicking sci-fi story. I used orange, acid green and purple to
give it an out-of-this-world feel. The new book will be about spring and I will
be using the pale greens of emerging leaves and buds as well as yellow, pink,
and white, the colors of the wild flowers in the New England woods. This
spring, I'll have a good excuse to wander through The Garden in the Woods, a
wildflower garden outside of Boston as well as some of our Audubon reserves to
spot the delicate wild flowers of Spring.
This month my challenge to you is to pick four or five colors that would
serve your story well, and try to keep that palette. You may find your art
path going in exciting new directions when you limit your palette.
Once I went to an art show of Matisse at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
New York. After absorbing the images with their unique color for three hours, I
went back outside only to discover his unusual colors kept popping back in my
consciousness. If was like my eyes had "Matisse" drops put into them. His
artistic vision was very strong and I know many of you have the same talent.
Let's have fun creating, your friend.