Well, enough of that frivolous sewerage stuff for now. Time to get back to Leonard because I’ve got some roughs to complete! (Sorry to those who were enjoying my inexpert comics doodles. I’ll try to fill you in on the end of the story at some stage. Evil snigger.)
Now where did we leave off? I think I was drawing finches in all sorts of styles.
After that, I drew a few more birds of other kinds… That’s rather offhand, isn’t it? I’m skipping over about 16 species without even excusing myself…
And then I spent a day or so researching and downloading images of various dances. I am much more familiar with birds than I am with dances. Seriously, you should see me try to dance. But what a great excuse to get a book about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers out of the library.
Then I spent a day drawing birds dancing, putting it together. And all the while my days and nights were filled with mullings and musings about medium. That’s just too much, right?
I am a person who could spend a long time making up my mind. So I wrote this shortlist.
The fabulousness ratings are important for me because I don’t feel there’s any point in making a picture book if I don’t at least attempt to make it fabulous. But they’re hypothetical, and of course totally subjective.
So. Being me, I started with Option Two.
Brush and wash with digital blocks of colour.
I have to thank Clive Hicks-Jenkins for accidentally reminding me of the brush and wash option. He posted my bookplate blog post on his FaceBook page. And when I looked at the bookplate again, I remembered how much I had enjoyed painting that chicken with brush and ink and how the digital editing changed it into something I rather liked, with very simple blocks of flat colour over the painted image. It was easy to do and retained the painterly look, which many digital treatments do not. But it wasn’t something I had considered as a treatment for Leonard.
This particular image would be rather dark and heavy in a picture book. But it’s really just the background that makes it heavy. With a different background treatment and a lot of white space, it could work. I had a vision with lots of white space but with some painted plants strategically placed, in paler tones than those of the birds.
With the chicken bookplate, I converted the original art to a sepia colour; still very inky looking. But I could make the brushwork any colour that harmonises with the overlaid colour blocks. Indeed each bird need not be treated the same way.
I made some quick mock-ups.
These brushy bird paintings were large. Nearly A4 size for each individual bird, so I wondered if I might be able to work at a smaller scale using a pencil for details like eyes. And made this quick sample. I think I prefer the brush alone, but it will depend how practical this giant size proves, when working on entire page compositions.
And I made a few brushy background vegetation sketches. I could have a lot of fun with these, adding some colour and layering. We could go a little 1970s…
I think that will have to do for tonight. Option One tomorrow!