A short while ago, I had to get a bit organised before going colour for Thunderstorm Dancing. Getting organised goes completely against my grain with any of my art. It’s a kind of superstitious thing. So much of my better work is on bits of scrappy paper, drawn in eyeliner or using a waitress’s pen, and so much of the work I like less (that’s for those of you who will kindly reprimand me for not liking some of my work ;-) is on expensive paper using the very best of materials… well it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I only need to pick up a bit of expensive paper to get so uptight that I can’t draw to save my life. My lovely art teacher at school, Cecily Osborn, identified this problem about 30 years ago. (OMG!)

This is a little sidetrack really…. what I was going to say is that I drew (in a wonderfully organised way :-) a little menu of characters showing which watercolours I mixed to make the various characters’ skin and hair tones. I sketched a couple of options for each character to begin with and then got impulsive and drew only one of each. (From this you will know that I very logically started on the right and worked left. Ahem.)

character colour codes

Here it is, ink smudges and all.

Of course, in-spite-of / because-of the fact that these characters took two seconds each to draw and are imperfect, I immediately liked them more than some of the painstaking images I have drawn for the book.

This doesn’t surprise me one bit.

However, I know as well as anyone who has attempted it, how hard it is to draw a character in two seconds and get it right first go. In my case, practically impossible. Only one in about 12 drawings will look remotely right. Put eight characters together on the one illustration (dancing together) and you have a logistical challenge. Devon, you can do the maths maybe ;-)

So… interesting times. I am not, in reality illustrating the book with two-second-characters. But I am loosening the style up a bit as I go along. It has its challenges. And its rewards.

p.s. Bella may notice that I have two different skin options for Pippa. One much warmer than the other. Possibly the one on the left is a Soft Summer, the one on the right a Cool Summer. I can make his outrageous statement only because she has dot eyes, right Bella? The Pippa on the left has brown eyes, the one on the right blue eyes… in my imagination. I think I am going the warmer, Soft Summer. I may be going mad too, but that’s nothing new :-) Last time we went here, Bella was giving excellent colour advice on a family of mice...

Seems like a decade ago.


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