Forrest Gumping

I've been working on the next spread of this picture book, and it's is a doozy. This is the spread I've been most nervous about because it's so busy and detailed. I guess I was bound to run into this problem while trying to create a book about the whole world, right?


My main challenge for this piece is not even the detail, but varying the depth, texture, and adding in contrast so it doesn't look completely flat and confusing. I will likely be carving those little bitty lines for weeks, but I know it's something I can do. If the print turns out well, the time I put into it will be paid off with a really amazing image. Creating something so difficult and detailed, that requires lots of repetition, and listening to plenty of podcasts to stave off boredom, is honestly a bit of a stunt. It's a stunt in the sense that it really is difficult, but you have the training and practice to pull it off, and the viewers will be wowed if you succeed. 


The person who articulated this concept for me was Andy J. Miller in his podcast, The Creative Pep Talk. (I love listening to podcasts, especially that one. I highly recommend it!) He explained it as one of the ways to get people's attention with your artwork. You can take something sort of ordinary, but if you do it to the extreme people will start to notice. Anyone can go jogging, but Forrest Gump started jogging and didn't stop. He ran all the way across the country! So now, whenever I pull an art stunt I think of it as Forrest Gumping. :) BTW, can you believe that movie was made in 1994? Over 20 years ago!

Want to see another Gumpy artwork that I made recently??

Einstein block inked.jpg

This print is 30 inches long and the most text I've carved. So many little letters! It was created at my friend Jorge's request because of his love for this Einstein quote. I didn't know if it would look good, and it was a little boring carving all those letters, but I'm happy with how it looks finished!

Einstein quote.jpg

So if I start whining about how long this new book spread is taking, remember that I chose this archaic medium and I love it. And I know my process is slow, but if it's going super slow, that may be because I'm Forrest Gumping.

Introducing the Cover and Main Characters

You know how it can take a novelist 10 years or a lifetime to write a book? Bet you didn't think it could take that long to write and illustrate a picture book, eh? I'm here to tell you, IT CAN! Of course, part of creating is just thinking or letting your subconscious work. Then there's the time spent on other projects that improves your craft to the point where you need to start over again. And life is distracting. And there are zillions of revisions and critiques to tackle. I have a very long-suffering critique group! Below are 5 complete revisions of this book that definitely got better each time. And there are plenty of versions that never got turned into a dummy. 

Five Dummies.jpg

All of this putters along when there is no deadline, like with my book. Deadlines keep things rolling so I've given myself an end date of June 1, 2018 to have all the art done. My fingers are crossed.

Now I'd like to introduce you to the main characters of Our Home...

They are a happy, energetic little girl, her parents, and her dog. Unfortunately no one actually has names in the text. But we should name them! I think of the girl as Sunny because she wears yellow and is like a little beam of sunshine. What name do you think fits her? Any ideas for her parents' names? And the dog looks a lot like my dog, Bailey but I'm open to suggestion. Let me know what you think!

And here is the cover. The right half of the image will be on the front and the left side will wrap around to the back. I have to admit that I'm not happy with how mom and dad look. I may go nuts and try to redo them by cutting them out of the window, glueing a new little piece of linoleum back in, and recarving them. I am making all of the artwork for this book with detailed linocuts printed with black and painted with gouache.  It takes me a couple of weeks to carve each block this size. But it's fun, even though it's slow. Do you see mom and dad in the window below? If I decide to try cutting them out, I'll share photos (of myself tearing my hair out.)

Below are photos of these two blocks inked. I lay the paper on top and rub the back to transfer the ink. I carefully pull the paper off the block and let it dry for a couple of days. Then I get to paint it. I loooove inking the block and pulling the first print! And I looooove painting. I guess I love making prints. :)

A couple of days ago I printed another spread. After it's painted I'll share photos of it in a new post. Then I promise I'll slow down on posting.

Thank you so much to everyone who has signed up to follow this blog via email and shared your comments with me. I can't tell you how exciting it is for any artist to show their work and have people excited to see it. You have all been making my day!!

Oh, and remember to share any ideas you have for names in the comments!