This is Jan Brett, and this is my July Hedge a gram. Every year I
illustrate a children's book. As the months go by, I tell what stage the book
is in, and add in the various projects I'm working on that boost the book
along. You'll see some months, I'm working on two books, which adds to the fun!
My art room if filled with books about the Arctic, Inuit people, and Inuit
art. There are photographs strewn everywhere along with a DVD player where I
can watch the Fast Runner, a movie made by the Inuit. I love hearing the sound
track because the Inuktitut language casts a spell on the listener. I
especially like the songs that have a hypnotic effect. Sometimes I imagine what
it would be like to be on the land walking all day and singing a song like that.
When I learn about the Inuit people, it helps me make decisions about my
illustrations for the three bears. Much of my story takes place in an igloo.
It's a magical igloo because three bears live in it, who walk on their hind
legs, eat food like people, and wear skin parkas. Baffin Island, where I
visited is far north of the tree line so wood was quite rare. There is a tree
called a dwarf willow that is only inches high. It grows sideways along the
ground. Snow is the material that the igloo is made from. It stops wind and
keeps the people inside warm when their oil lamp called a quillig is lit. It is
not a wood house.
I was fortunate to go to a town famous for its people's art called
Pangnirtung. Some people call it Pang for short. I saw images of animals
wearing parkas, which are winter coats, and boots called kamiks. When I saw
animals in people's clothes, I felt a door had opened. I could tell the
Goldilocks and the Three Bears story as if it took place in the North.
When I was in Iqaluit, I visited an elementary school. A thoughtful
teacher gave me a book of mammals, on plants of Baffin Island and a book of
birds. When I draw let's say a bowl used for soup, that has a bird on it, I
would use the bird book and select a bird from it. Even though the polar bears
travel long distances, they stay in regions near the Arctic circle, so they
would not have images of robins or woodpeckers! The three birds I saw on our
springtime visit to the Arctic were, gull, raven, and ptarmigan, a small white
pudgy bird with feathered feet.
I saw many intelligent proud faces at the Iqaluit school. I combined then
to create my curious Inuit girl. I like the old fashioned hair styles on young
girls, but they might look severe on my character. My editor and my art
director are very sure about this. I decided to give her ponytails. I don't
have to worry about the three bear's hair styles! Their coats have a slightly
yellowish look against the blue white snow. The polar bear and the walrus are
never joked about because they are so fierce and powerful.
You can see I am building the world my book takes place in, piece by piece.
Sometimes I am surprised at the way the story unfolds. Because the book takes a
year to create, I have time to make mistakes and change things back and forth.
The deadline of the book is my friend and my foe. It's my friend because if I
didn't have it I might toy with the pieces forever. It's my foe because there
might be a combination of ideas I didn't have time to try out.
I hope this summer you will start a big project and work on it a little at
a time. Make your deadline September and we will work along with a goal, but
with time to try out lots of creative ideas.
Happy drawing. Bye for now, your friend,