This was a commission I did just before Christmas.
It’s a picture to hang on a playroom wall. The brief was to do a very detailed picture which the children could spend a lot of time looking at — lots of animals — a big pool or waterfall, because the little girl is just learning to swim and loves water — and to include the girl’s favourite tiger toy. The scroll beside the lions says the children’s names on it. The size is a little over A4.
Here is how I developed the picture.
I began with a really rough doodle, working out the composition and trying to squeeze in as many animals as possible. (And making notes like ‘
I did a neat pencil underdrawing and went over it in dip-pen and ink. When I was sure the ink was dry, I rubbed out the pencil lines. Then I added watercolour. The colours look much stronger on the screen, in real life they’re more delicate.
I added lots of tiny details, like ants, dragonflies and the little mouse peeking at the lions from behind the tree. I thought the children would enjoy searching for them, and I was thinking about something Anthony Browne said about the importance of learning how to look:
“To see and understand a work of art takes time and patience… Looking takes time. Children generally have a much higher developed visual awareness than adults. Many of my illustrations have hidden details, images which tell parts of the story that the words don’t tell us, and kids are far quicker to spot these details than adults, who often take pictures for granted.”
(from Illustrated Children’s Books, Black Dog, 2009)
Then again, I hope I’ve not made it too busy! It may be a little fussy too, a bit colouring-neatly-inside-all-the-lines. But basically I’m pretty happy with it, and I hope the children enjoy it. I’m going to ask my teachers for feedback when the next semester starts.