It is easy to stay focused at the art table when the weather is frosty, or snow is viewed from a studio window. A drizzly, wet day is the perfect recipe for hours of productivity. BUT, when it is a balmy 62 degrees outside, the geese are honking, the sheep are meadow-ing and the garden beds are coyly suggesting," turn a spade or two in our leafy soil?", it is not so simple to "stay the course". I managed to resist the urge, as last weeks weather was almost Spring-like.
Working on these two pages reminded me that I had NOT planted all the bulbs that should have been sunk in November, there were nearly 300 of them.
So instead, I planted Mopkin's bulbs in the rich, black earth
My bulbs are still healthy, and I will spend ONE day this week planting them. (Of course, THEN it will choose to snow).
Anyone who idealizes and romanticizes about what it means to be a storybook illustrator,( or any kind of artist for that matter), needs to know...that it is a lot of work. Countless hours are spent alone at the workable..unless you have a little friend to cheer you on.
In this case, my little companion has a disapproving countenance because I am painting a mouse, instead of a cat.
Often, I will be working on things that many would consider completely monotonous.
Like 36 crocks and jugs, some less than 1/4 inch tall.
Or, for example, painting moss, shading stones, painting crevices and cracks in timbers. Little details such as this can take an hour for a mere 3 inches of work.
But it is those little things that count... the trifles.
To make ones living illustrating elaborate Storybooks is not an easy road if you require a lot of friends, activity and socializing. It is a rather solitary profession and just perfect for me.
"Never less alone than when alone" is my motto. I have never minded solitude, and being a slave to detail is my nature.
These colors are pretty accurate, as opposed to the full page image below.
There is quite a bit of difference in illustrating a book, as compared with making one of my painted papercuttings or a paper garden.
A Painted paper cutting may take me 40 hours of work, and then I AM FINISHED. But with a book, I am making up to 36 paintings, a book jacket AND endpaper art. It takes a very long time and a lot of commitment. And when one book is finished, you start right away on the next! AND you must go out and PROMOTE! PROMOTE! PROMOTE! But I love it, even though I doubt I'll ever become a well-known illustrator.
LET'S FACE IT,
There will only EVER be one Beatrix Potter, one Tasha Tudor, one Arthur Rackham, although many of us would like to take on the mantle. Alas, most of us will putter away in obscurity, our reward being the satisfaction of creating our books, knowing generations will enjoy them and hopefully, selling lots of books along the way!
THIS WEEKS SOUP WAS, THE EVER POPULAR AND SOOTHING:
I don't know James's recipe, but I will tell you he is a fantastic cook and even makes this soup taste extraordinary. One day we are going to create a cookbook with all his great recipes.
(My father was a chef, but I never took the time to learn a thing about cooking from him... except this... add anise seed to your spaghetti sauce.)
Today our tea is Twinings Earl Grey
Onward Ho, to the next 2 pages!