Trying things out

Work in progress by Myfanwy Tristram

Here is a small bird I made from some Brighton bus tickets.

We’re all switching to pre-loaded cards and mobile phone tickets these days, so it’s not as easy as it used to be to get hold of paper bus tickets. It’s funny to think that  maybe in a couple of years’ time, this picture will look really dated.

In any case, I need to make more of an effort to collect tickets while they’re still around. Our daughter still requires a 30p one for each journey, at least, so I can nab all the ones she hasn’t folded into paper boats.

bus ticket bird by Myfanwy Tristram

He stands pretty well on his own – I could see this image working for a simple Christmas card. But I have bigger fish to fry. I’m getting towards the point where I want to do some full pages for my children’s picture book.

Now, what follows is all still at the ‘trying things out’ stage; it’s not finished work, but it’s getting nearer to it. And nearer to saying ‘this is the style I’m happy with’. You’ve already seen a phone snap of the below:

Work in progress by Myfanwy TristramI’m enjoying the collage, but it’s flippin’ time-consuming.

Other things I am enjoying include:

– Ink (especially *on top of* the collaged paper – see how it seeps into the tissue, but misses out the gold birds?);

– Deciding the girl’s hair is pink because she’s *just that wild*;

– Loosely basing the dad on a Nick Cave type of figure, for all the mums who might appreciate that as much as I do (though a friend told me he looked more Frank Zappa-esque).

Oh, and although you can’t see it that well here, the girl’s top is collaged from this beautiful old shoebox I found. Triangles – they are very now, you know. I’m trying not to use it too fast, or maybe I just need to scan it so I can always sample from it. Or – here’s an idea – I could just buy more shoes. That’s always a good solution to most problems.

On top of that, lovely friends have been sending me tickets and stamps to cut up and glue and generally muck around with.

I got to the stage where I didn’t feel like I could go much further without having a text to work to, even if it’s not the final one. I’ve mocked up the dummy book, and that did help a lot in knowing where the double page image spreads should go, and where there will just be small vignettes, etc. So the next thing I did was to put together one of those spreads.

Bear in mind that this is very much just trying stuff out. Also forgive the scanner lines – it’s a big picture, my scanner is small, life is short, etc etc.

birds-carry[Click to see bigger]

There’s a lot I like about this picture, but for my money it isn’t doing its job.

To start with the positives:

– I like the window acting as a frame within a frame, and I like the extra 3D-ness the collage gives that effect.

– I rather like the colours, especilly the curtain rail being such an impertinent pink.

– And the curtains, despite being overly gothy (perhaps suitable for our Cave/Zappa dad?) are looking rather lush.

But what’s not working is the scene beyond the window. That little red ticket bird that was so clear in the first picture of this post just gets lost in all the detail behind. Faring even worse are his smaller pals on the telephone wires (which incidentally seem to be emanating from Dad’s mouth – layout fail). The idea is that birds will all be composed of tickets, but at this scale, they just can’t be read clearly. This page is a big reveal – birds! – so they really need to be much more prominent.

It all comes down to the background. I must say, I was having a lot of fun doing all those rooves and chimneys and smoke (tracing paper collaged on), but this isn’t the place for it. It doesn’t matter – it’s all a learning process, and perhaps I can use those ideas somewhere else.

I thought I’d try Photoshopping in some previous birds, and then cloning my little ticket bird, but I can’t say anything’s perfect just yet. Trying quick fixes like this rarely works – I reckon I’ll be better off taking everything I like about the picture, and using it to inform the next version.

Birds at the window by Myfanwy Tristram

Birds at the window by Myfanwy Tristram

In summary: it’s not perfect, but it doesn’t matter. It’s all good learning. And blinkin’ heck, inks are lovely.

sketch by Myfanwy Tristram

Me-er than me

http://www.etsy.com/uk/people/emilyruthplays?ref=owner_profile_leftnav
Having slagged off motivational Pinterest aphorisms in my last post, hey, what better than to feature one in this post?

But at least it’s from a children’s book illustrator – some might say the children’s book illustrator, Dr Seuss.

And it’s very nicely done, isn’t it? It’s by Emily Ruth on Etsy and I know nothing more about it than that it popped up on my Pinterest stream, a rather gorgeous presentation of a quote that is much bandied about over there:

You are you, this is truer than true. There is no-one alive who is youer than you.

And – let’s get to the point here – this was my main learning from (as the tutor likes to style it at the beginning of each class):

*swoosh* *swoosh* *swoosh*  (cinematic voice ahoy:) “Children’s Book Illustration…. week TWO“.

See now, last week, we were talking about style a bit. This week, I happened to mention that I never know if it is good for me to see so much excellent illustration.

Again I referred to Pinterest. I follow some fine illustrators on there, not to mention some fine connoisseurs of illustration, and the net result is that every morning when I bring up my browser, if I wish to, I can gorge myself on a smörgåsbord of amazing work. That other people have done.

And if you’re not feeling that resolute, it’s all too easy to think one of three things:

First (if you’re me):

I’ll never be that good.

And second:

Ooh, maybe I need to be looser/use more ink/channel my inner child more/**insert other trends here ad infinitum**

Then lastly: (I haven’t got there quite yet, but I can see the beguiling path of logic that leads there):

Well why bother, when there’s already so much good stuff out there?

The tutor gave me an excellent new spin on this, and one which I will be endeavouring to live by. “Admire the work. Be glad that it exists. Because now, you don’t have to do that.”

You know what, the course might be worth the money for that little insight alone.