October 24, 2014

dead fish swim

this morning at the playground my son saw small leaves floating in a puddle and said "mama, dead fish swim!". i just couldn't resist stealing this image from the beautiful brain of an 18 month old. i collected a few leaves and here are the dead fish swimming on my desk. 

dead fish, gouache on leaves

i just wish i had more leaves!

and i hope no one will accuse me of plagiarism and give me a lecture on intellectual property.

October 20, 2014

the ballerina notebook

ok, i know this blog is about my work and not my life as a full-time mom (as if there was another kind). but it's 10 pm and only now i had the time to sit down and blog. so i hope you don't mind me saying blogging is the last thing i want to do now. why am i doing it? i remember i once said something very deep like "i blog therefore i am" - there's too much pressure to keep sharing work, and i believe it's important for my so-called "career". there is also too much pressure to stay positive or at least sound positive, and that's even more exhausting. i personally don't believe anyone who says they're super-excited and grateful and happy 100% of the time. do you?

and this is where i stop being negative and tell you about my super-exciting way of life. yay!

there are so many projects bouncing around in my brain, that i had to separate them into little notebooks to keep my sanity. here's the bunch of them. 

projects in progress

the green notebook is the one devoted to my little ballerina character, which is based on my daughter, who would dance 24/7 if she was given the choice. it took me a while to get the hang of drawing a cute ballerina, as you can notice in the snapshots below. i decided to share the good, the bad, and the absolutely horrible, since i'm being very honest tonight.


cute but pretty bad

that's more like it

getting to know her better

fourth position mastered, or almost

arabesque: feeling better about this

i feel like i know what i'm doing, sometimes

i do have big dreams both for my daughter and this little character. both will need a lot of nurturing and a lot of my time. i only hope the best for them and i will do my best for them.

and in case you're curious about the other notebooks, i'm afraid you will have to wait until i recover from this post. i am being very honest, but even that is sounding a little gimmicky, isn't it? how was that for honesty?

good night. i'm tired. 100% honestly.

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!