October 2, 2014

in case you were wondering what Little Fox is up to!

just in case you've been checking my sketchbook, you might have noticed i have been painting a lot of foxes and other cute creatures. so here's the story, in case you were wondering.

it's been that time of year again: the deadline to submit to the Illustrators Exhibition at the Bologna Children's Book Fair was fast approaching and i had nothing that met the submission specifications, so as usual i had to create something new. luckily i knew exactly what i wanted to illustrate: i had long been musing about telling different stories with different characters all happening on the same page. i chose to illustrate 5 Aesop fables, because they are simple, and because their characters are animals, and who doesn't like painting those? i focused on 5 fables which had the fox as the main character - i've been seeing foxes everywhere and wanted to come up with my own little fox.

a new restriction i imposed on myself - well, it's not really a restriction, since it's very liberating, as you will see - was that i would not draw the illustration first and paint over later, as has been my practice since forever. i find my paintings lack the spontaneity of my sketches, so i decided to start painting without the initial pencil drawing. of course i did have a rough sketch in front of me, but i was no longer just coloring my drawing. my brush was free to move around, and i did not mind when some lines were a little off. i felt this made my illustrations more lively and i learned not to obsess over small discrepancies.

in preparation for this new way of painting, i had to draw and paint my characters numerous times, to familiarize myself with them. below are some examples:

once i felt ready, i placed my sketches on the wall above my desk and started painting. here's one of the sketches to show how rough they were:

and finally, below are the illustrations i submitted to the exhibition. each one focuses on the fable it tells (the fox always being the largest character illustrated),  but the main event is surrounded with illustrations of what the other characters in the remaining or previous fables are up to (according to me, not Aesop:)

the fox and the grapes

the fox and the stork

the fox and the lion

the fox and the rooster

the fox and the crow

i have been submitting to Bologna every year with no exception for the past 10 years. it is a very prestigious show, and it would be amazing if i ever got in. but by now i am used to rejection, and don't hope for anything. that doesn't mean i stop trying, though. wish me luck this time!