Jim Aylesworth’s, Cock-a-doodle-doo, Creak, Pop-pop, Moo, takes place on a farm, and although Jim doesn’t specify when the story takes place, I imagine the early, 1920′s. I always”picture” the paintings in my mind as I develop sketches for the dummy book. So… I’m sketching and the images percolating in my imagination are different than usual — they are completely without color! I continue sketching, and slowly a bit of color seeps in, but it is very subtle. The art in my mind’s eye is reminiscent of the hand-tinted black-and-white photos displayed in my grandparent’s house.
It occurs to me that this might be an appropriate “look” for the illustrations in this book. I set out to simulate the look of a hand-tinted photo. I decide to fully render the image in graphite and then add a bit of soft color with watercolor paint. The effect is perfect!.. But something isn’t right. The style reflects the era but seems too somber for the story, which is quite lite. Now I’m torn. I really like the look of the piece, and I had a good deal of fun rendering it, but I can’t ignore the nagging notion that the mood just doesn’t fit the text. I decide to send the illustration to the Editor at Holiday House to get her opinion. My fears are confirmed when the Editor responds that after showing it around the office, the consensus is the art won’t appeal to a young audience because it isn’t colorful.
Back to the drawing board!
The second illustration is colorful, and while I still really like the first version, the bottom line is it just doesn’t reflect the mood of the story. So the remaining illustrations for, Cock-a-doodle-doo, Creak, Pop-pop, Moo will have all the color typical of my past work. I will, however, find a way to use the “tinted drawing” style in a future story!!