I still have the ongoing distraction of a bathroom remodel (which is my wife's summer project for us), but I feel I've been too long away from the Chicken book. (Obsessing with the election is not helping either)
Illustrating this book and planning how I want to print it is far outside my comfort zone. Legitimate delays quickly become a problem of overcoming creative inertia.
So, to alleviate my growing sense of 'stuck', I pulled up the sketches and studies I've accumulated and started a new design overlay on the text output. I'm finding I'm a little more able to visualize what I want in certain areas. So the time away bore some fruit. The December deadline should be attainable. But my October appearance at the [http://www.bookartsjam.org](Book Arts Jam) may not be possible. I'll have something to show but probably not a finished book.
I've learned to leave myself many notes as I work. Even if I never refer to them again, the act of writing them seems to cement them in my memory. And if I do forget as new ideas sweep me along, they often pull me back to beneficial trains of thought.
Time slips easily by. The Book Art's Jam did too, and without an appearance by this book.
But I'm back at work on it and I'm trying to get some tangible printing started. Lacking any experience with a project like this I naively imagined I'd might be able to print the illustration as a whole piece. After confronting the reality of the project, I've decided to tackle the book imagery piece meal rather than as a monolithic scroll illustration. Here are some first pieces that might become part of a border. I'll shoot the components and assemble them digitally.
I've been developing the components for the illustration and getting some of the key moments in the illustration roughed in. It's uncertain work since I have no personal printing traditions to fall back on. But the adaptation of gelatin printing that I'm using is creating source material that I like. And the freedom I have in Photoshop to manipulate and combine the source fragments is vast.
Options without limit is not a certain path to success though.
But I have an organizing principle to guide me. I want the reader to experience the piece like it was music. This is why I've rejected 'paged' structures for a scroll form.
I've been productive in the studio, but not specially focused on Why Did The Chicken. Today though I cut more linoleum using some ideas Rae Trujillo had.
Any dream of finishing this book for December was swept away. The completion of the One Poem books and the release party swallowed a lot of time. The start of a new year and the sad spectacle of the inauguration of our new President made it easier to lose myself in production tasks than to do illustrations for a book about mysterious and transformational epiphanies.
Eventually though, I returned.
The difficulties of managing a 6' + long illustration on a laptop screen became apparent and I decided to invest in a new 4k screen. Quite a difference! I'm used to kicking back with my feet up when I work on the computer, so it's taking some adjustment for me. Also, getting the distances right for my reading glasses and comfort at the same time is a challenge.
In this new environment I was able to rough out more of the illustration over my initial text layout.
I stalled at that point for a while as I had a few commissions come in. I got back to the work on the heels of a couple of critiques with colleagues.
General response to the feel of the illustrations has been positive. Of course, different people are critical of different specific details. That's to be expected and is not a concern because I'm focused more on roughing out the illustrations to verify the text layout and pacing.
As my friends talked with me about details of the work, I was feeling like I was on an untenable path despite their positive response. The pacing seemed too rushed.
The main conclusion I came away with was that I needed to loosen up. Not that my illustrations needed to change, but my approach and process needed to be freer and more trusting.
Experiments with alterations in the text layout and the addition of more length started bearing fruit. So I abandoned the text layer and started working the illustration alone, adding lines of text afterwards like annotation. I did some of this development 'cut and paste' fashion on printed drafts.
This new approach started suggesting the need for new printed material and new sketches. Finally a feedback loop between me and the work took hold.
I had another commission job in the studio and there was some risk of loosing momentum on the work, but I had to order cloth for the customer's project and was able to ride this pony to conclusion!
I brought the illustration to 'first approximation' of final and started making prototypes. The final form of the book was likely to suggest minor changes and refinements.
I had always planned on making a tube-container for the scroll. But as I prototyped it, I could see many potential problems. I switched to a spool structure and this is what I settled on for the mini-book version.
The momentum of the project was well established by this point and every step suggested what had to be done next. The spool required the creation of leading and trailing sections of the main body. And the back required treatment.
The final prototype of this version of this mini-book version can be seen in the gallery.