September 2, 2010.
It's time (September 2nd) to formally document this sabbatical research. I've created a Facebook group to share the "process" of creating these images in order to establish a data source for later writing (a journal article). I don't really expect anybody to read these notes, but they are here if anybody in the Facebook group is interested. My guess is that this section of the site will be too personal and therefor boring, since this will be a record of the thinking behind the sabbatical project.
Because I feel somewhat uncomfortable with this open venue for sharing, I have purposefully picked people I trust for the Facebook group ... if you are reading this it means that I feel comfortable sharing the imperfect process in an imperfect way. If you are reading this it is because I think you know about the design process or are interested in the design process. You are a person I could feel comfortable sharing things with … If you have any questions I hope that you will ask them. By asking me a question you help me figure out how my work is perceived and what will be of interest when I write up the process for a journal article.
Up until this point in the sabbatical I've been totally focused on getting the images done, on meeting my deadline of a picture a week for the duration of my sabbatical. I'm proud that I've accomplished that. Four pictures in four weeks, I'm rocking!
But now that I have the fourth image done, my focus is shifting from "completion" goals to book goals. According to ID theory I should be focused from the start on "book" goals, those goals that both the illustrator (myself) has and the goals of the book author (Carol Eikleberry Pagano). I've been totally focused on the mechanics. How do I draw these pictures? How do I get them "good enough"?
I took the entire month of June to come up with my style (which I describe as brightly colored Matisse-like patterned backgrounds with embroidery)... When I began the illustrations, back at the very beginning, two summers ago, I thought my medium would be colored pencil, exclusively. Just by luck I signed up for a surface design fibers class in June because my friend Lynn was teaching it, and I also wanted to get my friend Jim into fiber arts. (He ended up outshining me, but that is another story.)
During Lynn's class I came up with fiber pieces that became part of the first image. I created the applique sun and the embroidered and painted strawberries that become the sky in that opening image. I am not sure why I made these things into the sky or why I stitched over the painting/drawings other than I did not want the picture to look flat (just a paint or pencil layer on fiber) . Prior to Lynn's class I found myself wanting to stitch on anything that I drew, and wanting to add to images layer by layer - draw layer 1, paint layer 2, highlight with oils layer 3, stich layer 4 ... I held back from doing this because I thought it was wrong, "I should get it right the first time". How many people do this to themselves and kill their creative instinct this way? I used stitching and layers as ways to emphasize and articulate.
In this next section I'm going to use the word "permission" a lot, because the concept of permission has been a big part of the process. There is a Matisse poster in my living room that gave me permission to create pattern everywhere, along with Lynn's permission. I'm always seeking permission from others to do things like this, which is probably not good thing. If I just went with my ideas to begin with I would be more creative. I need feedback though to move forward, especially since I don't have much confidence as an illustrator. My sister Bea is an incredible artist, so I often think ... I can't be as good as her so I shouldn't even try. For years I've done that, subconsiously. Now I think of Bea as inspiration.
I showed Lynn my original sketches, sketch2 (created several summers ago) and she really liked them. I noticed that she responded most favorably to the images that were part of the process then, not "final, end of summer two years ago" images. This was all I needed, that permission. When she pointed to one of my practice sketches (from two years ago) and said she liked it I asked her if it was ok to use images like that, images that were not perfect with perspective and shading. She gave me the confidence to move forward. She told me that she liked the pattern elements, which really fit her class assignments. We carved erasers to create pattern shapes (rakes - visual forshadowing, roses). I experimented with some crochet I was doing at the time, hoping I could use those as patterns too, but, so far I haven't used them. I ended up using the rake and rose carvings in the tiles in the fourth image.
Notes to self - include kids sketches (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) obtained by book author to document how the rake and strawberrys became the visual focus.