Tuesday, December 4, 2012

trials in illustration

Here I am again without a complete version of the story I mentioned several weeks ago. You've already heard I didn't like the first picture mostly because I was having a lot of trouble balancing the shades of green. Another problem that didn't really occur to me until I was too far into the picture to change it turned out to be the little shed next to the house. I already knew the setting for the next illustration would require a larger building to be in view, or at least suggested in the background, and the original picture wouldn't allow more structures. What I'd envisioned as a grove of trees behind the path turned into an unanticipated barrier that spoiled the effect even more.

All this to say that in the time between this post about the story and the last nearly a month ago, is that I've drawn too many variants of the scene and have painted three. First I got rid of the big house in order to have a thatched cottage that would look more friendly - plus, I added a couple of sheep just to keep things a bit more lively (thanks, Linda). You can see from this drawing that the watercolor paper had already been seriously overworked so the painting that came from it was unsalvageable for that reason alone but, once again there was no barn and, worse still, the farmer looked sinister. Since that one got tossed before I finished coloring, it doesn't count as a painting I finished. Nevertheless I liked the idea of a town being hinted at in the background.

Then I returned to the large house plan and modified it with a sizeable barn visible behind the farmer, along with a tree that would help to harmonize the greens of the surroundings. The sheep would stay. I actually liked this version enough that I painted it more than once. I won't show you the first because.. er, have you ever looked at truly bilious greens? It practically dove into the garbage without my help.

Anyway, the third try looks okay (it will just have to do). The second painting was finished without problems and now I'm working on the last one. In a couple of days I'll post the whole story but in the meantime here's a preview:

One fine May morning a local hillside farmer had just finished putting up a sign that read 'Puppies For Sale', when who should he see pulling a wagon along the path but a small boy.  I'm sure you know signs like that do have a way of attracting children.

'How much are you going to sell the puppies for?', he asked.

The farmer replied, 'They're working dogs so I'll be asking $50.'

The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have $2.37," he said. "Can I please look at them?"

The farmer smiled and said, 'Right this way', pointing to the old barn next to the house.


more soon
(and to think I'd planned four pictures..)


gfid said...

Just taking a break from playing with the recording ap on my iPad, and thought I'd check on you.... So glad I did! Behind the 'simple' lines in your drawings lies a whole universe of thought, and planning - so much we never see. A bit like a musician's rehearsal time,I suppose. I can't wait to see the puppies!

marja-leena said...

(Darn google, lost my first comment!) Anyway, I was saying that you sure have been busy. It's fascinating to see your process, Susan. The second drawing reminds me of an etching anad I love it. Did you save a copy before painting it? The watercolour and story are very lovely and I eagerly look forward to more.

susan said...

Nice to think of it as rehearsal time rather than unnecessary aggravation. Most are easier (with Crow portraits usually the smoothest of all) but I got hung up, then fed up with this one. I'm dying for you to see the puppies.

susan said...

I can usually get considerably more accomplished with a similar amount of time spent but I'm trying to see if it's possible for me to illustrate in series. That much longer story is still in the background.

In answer to your question, all the original sketches are on their way to wherever recycling goes. Interesting that you saw that one as an etching.

I think you'll like the rest of the story as much as I'm looking forward to finishing this one.

linda said...

susan, my dear, firstly can i just tell you how delighted i was to see what a MESS your paper was?? sigh....now onward... i cannot wait to see the puppies everywhere and love your sweet sheep. they add a nice touch and since that is exactly what they'd be doing, standing there munching, so much the better. and LOVE that you now have the sea back there instead of another hillside. you are so inspired and inspirational as well...i just might have to paint something at this rate. ;) well...

this is already beginning to sound like a wonderful little story and i cannot wait to see how you make it evolve. i am sure it will be so amazing with your art. your art is the magic!


susan said...

From the look of that paper you could probably tell I was fairly aggravated at that point. Thanks again for giving me the sheep idea - I probably should have added a few more but I'd really tired of the image by then (and in truth, the story too). Still, the elements are there and I liked having a seaside town suggested.

It is a sweet little story, yet one I didn't write. I ran across it on a Buddhist site first, then went looking to see if I could find the author, only to find pretty much the same one on a Christian website and a Hindu one. I guess it's a common theme. You'll know it all soon.

Randal Graves said...

Puppies? So that's what the kids are calling hydroponic crops these days.

susan said...

I know you'd have preferred 'Baby Xenomorphs for Sale'.

Gina Duarte said...

Oh, the anticipation!

I like the sheep. I am often quite taken by their look but they can put up such a racket when they're unhappy, as I discovered at a county fair last fall. Your sheep looks quite contented and is likely to stay that way, without a peep. ;-)

gfid said...

I was thrilled to see the sea just beyond the village too.... I just know there are nets stretched out to dry and mend, an fishwives hawking the day's catch..... Just beyond the bend

Lisa Golden said...

I opened this while eating lunch at my desk and then felt compelled to show off your talents to a couple of my co-workers.

The consensus is that we like the farmer's smile. The sheep is a great touch and the detail is amazing.

And these are not people who toss around the word "amazing."

susan said...

It will definitely appear this weekend :-)

Sheep are strange characters, aren't they? They look as if cud wouldn't melt in their mouths and all the while they're planning mayhem.

susan said...

It's always so good to know someone besides me likes this stuff. Thanks for letting me in on the vote, my friend.

You wouldn't believe just how much the tiniest motion can change an expression.. especially with a pen.

susan said...

You get the picture :-)

I wonder if children still look at picture books? They do broaden the mind.

Steve Emery said...

I am struck most by your tenacity. I doubt I would have stuck with it through half that many drafts. Weak spot of mine... The paper problem alone would have driven me a little crazy. I hate it when I ruin the paper's finish with pencil or eraser. My solution has usually been to get out the acrylics and try something totally different (and opaque) on the damaged surface, so I don't waste the expensive page, the work spent stretching it, and the opportunity.

I also think the sheep, the pond, and the little town are great additions. And since I'm arriving late, I can go straight to the story, which I see is already posted!

susan said...

It was a shame about those other of sheets of paper but I was determined not to be thwarted in getting an image I'd be satisfied with. I'm glad you like the sheep and the other things added to make it all a bit friendlier.