First, I want extend my thanks to Johanna Wright for asking me to participate in this wonderful Blog tour. I met Johanna quite a few years ago at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn. She had a table full of magical little paintings, and I immediately fell in love with her work.
When her first picture book, The Secret Circus came out, it was clear that Johanna had some great stories up her sleeve as well.
I am looking forward to see her newest book, The Orchestra Pit, soon.
What am I currently working on?
I am (and have been for a while,) working on a big graphic novel project called Lint Boy. (Clarion 2016). I'm excited to be working on a book for ages 9-12, It gives me more freedom to make the story and characters darker, with a pinch of wicked.
How does my process differ from others in its genre?
I'm not sure what other peoples processes are like, so it's hard to say how mine differs. I love to work in different media, try different papers, paints, crafts, work with wool and fibers, learn new skills, take classes, and spend hours in my studio making things.
So far, for each of my books I have worked in a different way. Lint Boy will be water color with inked lines, not unlike the process for Hugging Hour, but it has a very different look. Bella & Bean, I drew on paper, scanned and painted digitally, and City Hall, I painted with acrylics. In my near future I'd like to illustrate a book with my needle felted figurines.
Why do I write what I write?
My stories mostly evolve from characters. The characters in turn are born from doodles, sketches, or dolls I make. In the case of Lint Boy, the character and story idea came about when I was making one of my first dolls. I was surprised how much stuffing it took to fill a small fabric creature. I was looking around for stuffing material when the dryer chimed it's done signal. A full load of bath towels creates a whole bunch of lint, problem solved. My little guy was going to be stuffed with lint and named Lint Boy, all kinds of images and scenes exploded in my brain. I'm also inspired by settings, locations, and objects I like to draw.
How does my individual Writing and Illustration process work?
While I'm sketching characters, or making them out of fibers, ideas for stories grow in my mind. I go with the flow, sleep on it, before I start writing. I write a couple of hours a day, until the story has it's first solid form, then put it away for minimum a week, while I work on something else. I need to do this to get some perspective and to see what I wrote with a more critical eye. Then, that process repeats itself while I rewrite and revise. The story has to be close to finished before I start drawing again. I have learned my lesson the hard way. If I start drawing too soon, I tend to get attached to certain images, I then try to incorporate those into the story, often at a cost.
As for my illustration process. I first do a thorough study of each character, sketching front back and side views, plus expressions and emotions, I also write down a little background story for them, to understand their motivations better. After I'm satisfied with all the characters,
I sketch out the story in large thumbnails. Then, I go page per page and refine the sketches. I sometimes scan the drawing into photoshop to work on the layout. Finally, I do the finished drawing on the appropriate (water color) paper. I always scan the final drawing before I paint, so I can do color studies in photoshop.
Then, over a couple of days I make the water color painting.
Bella & Bean I painted digitally.
Who am I tagging?
I haven't found the right people yet, sorry. I have a couple of emails out and I'm waiting to hear back. So, please be patient, I will announce my Author and/or Illustrators in my next post.