In May, I attended an illustrators’ workshop in Oakland led by an art director at Viking Books.
- I should have studied up on the BART train routes.
- Bay Area attendees, uniformly kind and welcoming, were also uniformly aghast that someone from Mon-TA-na! would travel so far for an opportunity like this.
- The desk clerk at The Inn on Jack London Square is an absolute gem.
- Just because there are palm trees, doesn’t mean it isn’t freezing cold outside.
Most valuable of all, though, was this piece of advice from the art director:
Draw your characters AT LEAST fifty times.
So I spent the remainder of May and all of June drawing Zando, Marcato, Fermata, and Poco-A-Poco in every conceivable pose and mood, and from every angle I could wrap my inner “eye” around.
I drew them in the early mornings in the “common” area of the Cottonwood Inn in Glasgow, during our annual family reunion on Memorial Day Weekend.
I drew them while sitting on the dock at my sister and her husband’s property on Noxon Reservoir.
Back home, I drew them in crayon on the paper tablecloth at the Rib and Chop House (my daughters and I are inveterate tablecloth decorators).
Every morning I’m afraid to look at the wall above our headboard, in case I really have been drawing them in my sleep.
And boy, has it paid off.
I am working on the rough pictures for the dummy pages—the mock-up that shows my overall plan and vision for the book. These quirky little guys are, quite literally, right at my fingertips.
I may never master the intricacies of the BART train.
But I have these animals down.