Sunday, November 15, 2015


After doing about fifteen or so watercolor illustrations for stories about saints and animals, I got fed up because it was so laborious every time.  I would continually find other things to do than to face the unfinished page that was sitting on my work table.
When I had a personal sort of project to do however, like a birthday card, I would find some pieces of colored paper, cut out shapes, and make a picture out of them, bang, bang.  No matter how complicated or time-consuming these cut paper projects are, I head to the art table to work on them whenever there is a spare moment,
For example:
This one on the left is the card for Tofu's birthday this year.  The boy (Tofu, of course) has a wheel behind his feet so that he can move fairly easily up the path to the top.
It was so fun to make.
I have been making cut paper collages since I was in college, always for fun.  I never considered them serious art.
Why not?

Finally a lightbulb went off! Maybe I could do the art for my book in a medium that I truly enjoy...
What seems Real about this process is that the layers are truly layered: the background is in the back and the foreground objects are pasted on top. What's more, each color is its own discrete entity.  It makes sense in a simple-minded, literal sort of way.  For some reason that seems thrilling.  Also the textures of the papers add an organic beauty that I couldn't have invented.  And the clean edges are, well, clean, crisp.  

So I am starting over from scratch, doing cut paper pictures instead of watercolor ones.  
In order to finish this project in my lifetime, I'll cut down the number of pictures, so that each story will have three at the most, instead of about eight.  
I posted earlier the watercolor that this one is replacing which can be seen here.  

I suspect that I am an engineer at heart.


  1. Excellent idea to switch gears rather than give up. I get the same feeling sometimes when doing research for writing and get sidetracked by the minutiae of a particular part (instead of keeping my focus on the whole). Good Luck!

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  3. Thank you Johnny. I will show you the rest of the cut paper pictures sometime. Using cut paper makes me have to do quite a different kind of illustration for the most part. This one of St. Gerasimos is atypical, as it is a redo of the watercolor one. But as my favorite art teacher said once, making art is a conversation--a relationship--between the artist and the artwork. You can't force your medium to do what it does badly; you work with it. It's just one of those ways that art teaches us to live.