... not that long ago, we decided to make ROUND ROBIN 3! And instead of playing the round-robin-style word game of the previous 2 books, we took turns in composing an entire round-robin-style story, a process that deserves (and shall get) an entire post of its own later.
Right now I'd like to show you the first painting in the new book!
It's always a daunting task to have to BEGIN a new project, but even more daunting is knowing that the illustration you're beginning will be on page 1! When finished, it will have to set the tone of the book, introduce the characters, the setting, and get people excited to turn the page. No small task. But if I had to think about all that every time I started a new piece of art I would never get anything done.
Instead I focused on what I wanted to learn from the third book, and what I was excited to experiment with. Here is the final illustration:
The first difference in the art approach was that the narrative format asked for a lot more visual continuity between paintings. It was the closest that we've come to traditional book illustration, or because we're filmmakers, to color script.
The second consideration was whether we would all draw the main characters similarly, or each have our own take. The whole idea of ROUND ROBIN is that there is freedom of interpretation between artists, so we opted for the latter. That being said, each artist figured out her personal design rules in her own sketches.
In my case I took inspiration from the protagonists's names: 3 tall snooty sheep named Fuzzy, Flounce and Woolala. I decided that Fuzzy would be sweet, nervous, and a little shy, and that her fur would be pretty thick and unkempt. Flounce would be confident, active and agile. She probably keeps her fur neatly groomed, always looking lean. Woolala is the capable and crafty fashionista who sometimes curls her fur and wears belts that show off her small waist.
As usual I had to look for some inspiration in reference, in this case for the sheep's 12th floor apartment. They live in a big metropolis (New York), presumably in a penthouse. They're pretty well off, so I already had ideas for the environment that I wanted them to inhabit. For some reason I thought it would be fun to introduce them through a giant painting of themselves (because if history has taught me anything is that all wealthy people commission giant portraits of themselves!). I also thought that they would have designed their apartment following some kind of Bauhaus esthetic, which is most obvious in the bookshelf color palette, and the abstract painting above the fireplace. I recently got a great book on Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers. Here are some of their works that I referenced and paid homage to:
In terms of technique I wanted to keep up what I had really enjoyed doing in ROUND ROBIN 2, acrylic on wood panel, with a lot of collage. I had the perfect opportunity to use textured hand-made papers for the sheep's fur. Once again I used bright origami papers, in this case for the main accessory each sheep was using. I art directed the characters to have a signature color which went well with the personalities I ascribed to them. Fuzzy loves pastries and carries a yellow tray full of them, Flounce is reading the Sports section of the paper, with a bright red headline. Woolala's color is green, mostly because I liked the idea of the green hat and belt.
And there you have it. Below are some bonus progress images of the painting, and a sneak peek into some of the other characters you'll meet when you see the book.
I hope that sharing a little bit of the making of this painting has got you excited to find out what happens next. Coming up soon, a painting from Katy!