When drawing…

The last comment on my drawing made me feel like posting a little blog in response.
Kevin Morrison (the author of the third book I just did illustrations for, I Can Speak Bully, due out in Fall) wrote:
“I like your pictures for the stories they can tell. I enjoy the depth of your characters beyond the lines and colors on the page. Do you have stories in your mind when you create them?”

I think that it’s true for me that I get pretty attached to the characters in my work. In fact, if you ask Josh, he’ll tell you I will talk to them while I’m painting… Sounds a little creepy, but it’s more like this, “Well aren’t you a nice, little frog? I bet you’d like to be green with a red stripe down your back! Then you’ll have lots of things to do…” In fact, the pages for Kevin’s book I worked on, there were a few where I got carried away and started crying for this little boy… Pretty cheesey of me to admit, but I think that it’s just the way I am…

Now as weird as that may sound to some people, when you paint or draw, you invest a lot of your time with the work.. you sort of “get to know” the painting. I think for me, it starts with “I’d love to paint something with wide open space… yes… a desert! I haven’t done a desert with a lot of funky-shaped rock formations yet… that makes me think of Dragon Ball! Oh, an adventurous little girl with a friend. Her friend should be like a koala… and they both ride her dirt bike together…” (and on and on and on…).

I think I can recall a time in class when I was in college with my absolute favorite Professor (at the time, he’s now the “Head Honcho” of the Illustration Department at CSULB) David Hadlock (so unbelievably talented and genius!). It was one of the first classes I had ever taken at the college. Some background before I go further… my twin sister, Mei, and I used to draw side-by-side since I can remember… We would talk ideas out and make up cartoons and stories… so I was used to verbalizing my ideas out and just brainstorming as I went along when it came to coming up with ideas to draw.
So in class, Hadlock would go around the room and stop at different student’s desks and try to see how they were coming along… whenever he would come by my desk, he would say something that would set off something in my head where I suddenly had a jolt of inspiration and could see so many possibilities in a single painting/drawing. And I loved that about him. I also noticed that he did the same thing when he was critiquing other work… he seemed to have endless love for imagination.
He’s also the reason I wanted to do children’s books and not manga/comics. He used children’s books to show examples of something like “perspective.” It made me realize how much I identified and loved children’s books.

So in a very long story… the answer is that yes, I think out almost everything about a character when I paint it… or at least by the end of the painting, I have a pretty good idea of who that little person is and what they would be doing. Most of the time, I think of something I’d like to see or paint and the story follows as I go along.

Sorry if this post has horrible grammar by the way.. another reason I am not the best of authors/writers. I am also pretty wiped out because Josh and I just spent a couple hours getting ready for the Stumptown Comic Fest. We get to go early tomorrow and set up before Saturday. I might print out the comic pages that I do have, too, so I am still tired.
(Actually the pugs are asleep on the bed because they know how crazy their parents are when it comes to staying up too late).

Thank you for the comments everyone! :)
I have links to people on my blog as well if anyone would like to see other blog pages.

About maiskemble

I am a published author/illustrator of children's books. I live and work in Long Beach, CA with my husband, comic book artist/t-shirt designer, Joshua Kemble.

One comment

  1. Awesome, Mai. All of that creative process definitely shows!

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