After looking at countless children’s book illustrations, I started to doubt my drawings for What’s In These Woods? a little. I thought that maybe my compositions didn’t have enough contrast or interesting shapes, or maybe my drawings weren’t illustrative or stylized enough.
I tried to boost the contrast and create geometry in my watercolors by using masking tape. In my 5th grade art class we all made watercolor paintings of birch trees this way, with bright white trunks revealed after we peeled off the masking tape we had painted over.
Applying masking tape of various sizes to the baby robins’ nest in the above drawing, and then to the right to create some kind of abstract tree, I had bright boxy shapes under my initial washes.
This drawing is in What’s In These Woods, but after trying to work with the extreme edges made by the tape, I ditched that technique for future use. I’ve been hacking away at this drawing for many sessions, and then went really dark with the colors to make the masking edges less noticeable. I also like to think that I was inspired by fall, Halloween, and orange moons.
I’ll start a new one over for the book, but I’ll keep at this one, because it’s wild and crazy.
Here’s a detail.
Sometimes experimenting can feel like a waste of time, but I look at the results with different criticism. I’ve learned to applaud myself for trying and creating something that would never have come out of my usual approach.