It feels as though I am taking a long time with this next series of books. The text has been ready for quite some time, the owl prototype characters were painted last year and the text revised and divided into pages last month.
I am surrounded by pictures of owls and half completed sketches as I try different styles. What is slowing me down, I think, it getting that bigger picture, the book design, firmly established in my head before I begin to paint and draw. The text will be incorporated into the images, and the page design will dictate some of the details. This is a series of three (so far), and I want the setting to be recognisable from book to book.
The tree will be seen from many angles, and even deciding on the width and nature of the trunk is taking time. The little owls can’t fly, but somehow they need to make it back up the tree. The branches are bendy and bouncy, but the tree is gnarled and old. Is mother owl tucked cosily into a hole in the tree, or is she on a branch like father owl?
How wide is the owl’s wing span, and when he flies can you see his toes? How big is a baby owl’s wing span (should he just happen to fall out of a tree rather ingloriously)?
Does watercolour or pastel work best for Fluffy the Cat, and what colour is the dog with the big teeth?
At the end of the day I seem to have little to show for all my thinking, but in fact there are colours and details jotted down and more photos pulled from one folder into another.
I am still looking for the perfect tree. If it is not on my camera by tomorrow, then I shall simply invent one that suits my needs. After all, that’s how the little owls arrived on my page. It will probably look a little like this (but with leaves), reminiscent of one I played in as a child.
Tree trunk draft 2.