Here are some more final illustrations…
I had taken a course the summer before on how to create watercolour monoprints and I really loved it. So I did a couple of “practice monoprints”, took them downtown and showed them to my editor and then boldly announced that I planned to make all the final illustrations in the book watercolour monoprints.
To make a watercolour monoprint, you begin by painting in watercolour directly on plexiglass (you need to rub sandpaper over the surface of the plexiglass first until the entire surface looks cloudy to prepare it to receive the paint).
Once the glass painting has dried, you carefully lay a wet piece of watercolour paper over the dried painting. This is where the printing press comes in if you have one. But if you are like me and don’t have one, what you do is cover the back of the wet watercolour paper with a sheet of mylar (plastic) and then over top of the mylar you place a sheet of tissue paper and then you rub like crazy over the whole surface with the bowl of a wooden spoon, applying some pressure.
Now comes the exciting (and also terrifying) part…peeling back the watercolour paper to see how things turned out. What should happen is the image forming the watercolour painting will transfer to the watercolour paper in a dazzling way!
What actually happens (at least to me) is that the image mostly transfers but in some parts of the painting the image transfer is not complete.
But I didn’t stress too much when this happened… because most things can be fixed by touching up the monoprint after it dries, by adding details or, in some cases, adding colour to areas where the colour didn’t transfer.
Spot drawings are small, careful sketches that I like to include in my picture books to add balance to the full colour illustrations. They can also add another visual element to the storytelling. I have a lot of fun doing these because I enjoy working in charcoal… I often use a piece of compressed charcoal called “conte” to make the spot drawings. Depending on how much pressure you apply you can get many different effects with the same piece of conte. Sometimes I smudge parts of the drawing to create a shadow effect. There is nothing quite like the the joy of getting your fingers all black in the name of art!
For the scenes in Yitzi and the Giant Menorah I wanted to evoke the feeling of a shtetl in wintertime and for that I spent time researching how people dressed in the shtetls of Europe and what the insides of their houses looked like. I have a small collection of reference books filled with photographs that helped me with this part.