Monday, October 3, 2016

Process (The Nautilus and the Ammonite)

I haven't typically shown much documentation of studio process on this blog in the past. I usually like to keep that to myself because I worry it will color how people view the final work. Generally I also feel that my experience as the maker of the work should be profoundly different from the audience's experience of it.

I'm sharing some process today because I thought it might be interesting to some readers and because I'm still very much in the middle of working something out that I've been at for a while (and then took a very long break from) and it helps me think to either say things out loud to someone else or in this case type them.

This will eventually (possibly) be the first double-page spread of The Nautilus and the Ammonite picture book project. The following text would be included:

The nautilus and the ammonite
     Were launched in friendly strife, 
Each sent to float in its tiny boat
     On the wide, wide sea of life. 

The idea here is that the title characters are somewhat infantile (thus the tub toys and kids' drawings) and perhaps meeting each other for the first time. This is just me working on the backdrop. I'm figuring out the placement of the background figures in the scenery; they are currently printed in black on acetate sheets so I can play around with placement. When I go to actually print them on the paper they'll be printed in a muted, blue hue that pushes them back.

I was originally going to go with this simple blue color backdrop with a sandy blue ground and the handful of figures printed in blue. I was thinking that less is more, and that the monochromic field and empty spaces would be more suggestive of a world that is at this point smaller for the main characters. I still might go that way, but I'm also toying with the idea of more layers. In other words, I'm deliberately attempting to rely more on my intuition. In other, other words, I don't  really know (at least consciously) what I'm doing.

This is not how I made my last picture book, Owl and Cat In Love. For that I first created a whole storyboard that I stuck to with the exception of a few minor details here and there. For this book I have instead some sketches of the characters in a sketchbook where I first started exploring the idea of taking on this project, and last year I made a dummy book with some vague sketches inside that serves as a storyboard, but it is really only the scaffolding. I have screenprinted backdrops and I've printed all the shells of the characters to collage onto those screenprints, and I've begun to make woodcuts for scenery details such as the linocut dinos and bath toys pictured here. But I'm not sure if there will be other collage or painted elements, and I still haven't decided if I'm going to hand write the text, collage it, or leave spaces for it to be added by a graphic designer.

Now I must decide whether or not to publish this post. Well, if you're reading it, I decided to hit "Publish." In which case, now I feel uncomfortably exposed, like the Wizard of Oz when his curtain gets pulled back. But it's good to get out of one's comfort zone. (And most likely only a handful of the few people who see this post will bother reading it.)

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