Recently, a bookseller remarked on how different my picture books looked from each other. I suppose Plaister Press has given me the freedom to do one-off books rather than be brand or series led. By having all my in-print books now standing together on the Plaister Press bookshelf and not scattered among different publishers’ lists as they were in the past, there’s less of a need to make them all look alike just in order to be recognizable.
So I have been enjoying a different technique for each new book – glazing in Selkie - a lot of waiting around with this process as each glaze has to dry naturally:
wet watercolour washes with colour dropped in and pigment tide-lines in The Little White Sprite and Zoe’s Boat - always a bit chancy:
waxing in We’re Going to Build a Dam - a sticky business:
and ink splattering in Flood – messy - I have to be outside to do this.
Now, with my latest picture book, I’m scratching. This needs a tough paper as I’m scratching with a dry pen nib while the paint is still wet. Arches 90lbs rough can take this.
Just as an author strives to find a new voice to fit the narrative of each new story, I like to do a similar thing with images. I search for a ‘look’ that matches the underlying feeling of a picture book story and that invariably means finding a new technique to best express it.
It’s not easy making each book look so very different from the last and as I embark on a new book there’s always a temptation to repeat the tricks of technique mastered in the previous one. I sometimes wonder whether, were a particular title to take off, the business side of me would put pressure on the creative side to follow it with a brand of very similar looking books. But that has not happened yet.