Saturday, January 25, 2020


Illustrating a story is different from making a picture, which is different from being a good draw-er.  I was always a good draw-er, so I thought I could illustrate.  It turns out that the essential skill is only the first step, and not even absolutely necessary at that.  In fact, it can be a detriment because a person who is confident that their work looks good may tend to lean too heavily on how attractive the image is, and not delve into the internal issuesof storytelling.  How does the picture express the feel of the story?  How does it tell something that the words don't or can't tell?  How does the picture fit into the placement of text on the page?  How many pictures does a story need?  What events in the story do you choose to illustrate?  How do you make each page beautiful in itself?  (That was one of Seth's main considerations when he was making his comic book pages.)

It has taken me ten years of struggling with the process and the discipline to even begin to formulate these questions.  Clearly I am a slow learner.

But little by little I am making images for the stories I want to tell, and putting them together.  It's only by actually DOING that a person learns these things.  Without doing it, I think you always think that the rules don't actually apply to you.  You think your work is above, or at least outside the rules.  Learning humility seems to be a vital part of this process.
Here's an illustration for the story of Martin de Porres and the mice.  Initially the picture did not have pots or shelves in the background, and Martin did not have the tonsure (that peculiar monk's haircut).  I was just throwing out pictures for certain segments of the story, without seeing how it all fit together.  But, then I reread a book I have on Martin, and rewrote the story so that it was more true to his life, and was going to toss this picture.  I did however like the structure of the picture, how his finger and the mice are all pointed toward one place, and decided I could still use it if it were altered.  
Now it seems to fit better as the final image in the story.  

From now on, however, I'd like to make most of the images blend into the page a little bit more, and not be so very rectangular.  That's Seth's influence.  

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