Milo Running Through the Garden

 

page16scanOK

I  based the Garden of Delights in The Midnight Hare on the Alnwick Garden, a place I have visited many times. However the deserted nature of the place is nothing like Alnwick, which is one of the most visited destinations in the country. Of course one takes liberties all the time when illustrating, and one of the liberties I took was creating a wood on the edge of the garden inhabited by venomous mechanical birds. Mind you, Alnwick does have a Poison Garden among its many delights.

I had a lot of work to do on the scan of this picture, as I realised that the picture on the opposite page had Milo’s hand in exactly the same position, so I changed his hand, but the original hand showed through, so I had to very meticulously cover it over with red, using Photoshop; I don’t think the extra hand can be seen.  Also Milo has a bright countenance, which is also manipulated somewhat, to get rid of the striations of the paper. However, I only use Photoshop to tighten up and clean up various areas of colour, and use my Wacom pen too at times (one of the interesting things about doing this book has been finding out how many brilliant programs there are to help). But the fundamental illustrations are done out in my studio in the vegetable garden, far away from the computer, the only machines out there being my very old CD player, an equally old blow heater, and a light up above, the bowl of which gradually fills up with insects as the summer progresses.

My publishing schedule for the coming few months is to get The Midnight Hare into as many local venues as possible; this will be especially important in January. Meanwhile I am getting on with the book about Finn and Ella and the Cat. This afternoon was one of those beautiful days in autumn when the sun slants through the changing colours of the leaves, and there are long shadows on the ground. And once again I can’t get near enough to the heron by the bridge to get a decent picture.

The Midnight Hare: Page 15

page15This was one of the illustrations that worked first time off.  In this earlier saved file, I have not taken out the “edge line”, where I copied the original image on to the plainer background. In the final image I carefully blended the edges by deleting the edges of the overlaid image so the underlying plain background showed through; and softened the inner lines of the pastel paper, though in places left the slightly corrugated look, as it fitted in with the tree trunk and the quality of the moonlight and the light of the lamp. Photoshop is invaluable, but it can be overused. I like the feeling of original line and brushwork, there is a depth and a surface difference that can be wiped out by over-use of Photoshop on the scan of an original painting.

page 15

There was only one line of text on this page, which I set high up on the left: “He found he was all alone.”

Painting on brown paper was integral to this story, but looking at an image from another book I illustrated, I can see how vibrant colour can be against white. Each book has its own language.

Keeping to my decision, I shall now send out some more feelers to try and sell copies of the book.  Where it is for sale it is selling well, happily. I think all the boxes in the cupboard wore me down a tad, but then it occurred to me that they are going down slowly, and there is no set time for selling the books. At the beginning I thought everything had to be done in one great push, but of course, in self-published work this does not happen like this.

I am loth to push my work, it is much easier when a publisher is in charge of all this and you get sent hither and thither to do projects with children, which are fun, and which sell books, and all the rest of the publicity is done by the publishers’ marketing department. But this self-publishing malarkey is a slow burn. There will be a big push on my part locally just after Christmas, when local outlets start to stock up. I am not sure about the Christmas market, I think there is so much else out there this book will get swamped.

However, it does no harm to get The Midnight Hare out there in the world. And people do seem to like the story, I don’t think they are just being polite. I am grateful to the printers for doing a good job on its production. It doesn’t look cheap and cheerful, it has a certain weight, it has been printed on good paper. It feels nice to pick up and riffle through. The “feeling” of the book as a physical object has always been important to me. This is something that publishers in the US seem to get right. Their production qualities are often so good.

Enough already. Time for a cup of tea…..