All creatives have ponies, you know. It’s our ponies that enable us to express the inexpressible.
Ordinary folks can dab red paint on a canvas, and it’s just red paint on a canvas.
When a creative loads up a brush full of red paint and applies it to a canvas, suddenly there’s energy and motion and form!
I don’t understand it either … it’s just that magic God put inside of lucky creatives!
And speaking of lucky … if you are a creative with an extra lively pony, and you discover you have a bent for writing and drawing picture books ……. oh, happiest of happy days!!!
Because our ponies love to push the limits! That’s what most creatives do with their art, but there’s something special about picture books ... no matter if it’s the written part or the picture part.
You can be just a tad more silly, a tad more dramatic, a tad more fantastic, a tad more exaggerated in any ole’ way you want! The kind of silly, dramatic, fantastic and exaggerated that will get you in trouble in other kinds of art and genres, are just fine – and actually encouraged! – in picture books.
The text doesn’t say it all in a picture book … the pictures enhance and add to the narrative of the text. In the illustration, added touches and elements, even new characters not mentioned in the text, can be introduced and added. You can have a running gag that builds over the sequence of the pages. You can illustrate characters and settings described in the text with a little more umph …
Is your character embarrassed? Make their face really red!
Are they lazy? Exaggerate their posture to make them look slow and dull. Put sloppy, draggy clothes on them.
Are you drawing the house where your characters live? Don’t stop at trees and a sidewalk … are there children in the house? Add a swing set or a wading pool and toys in the yard. If they have pets, how about a dog house or a fence? Will it be a wooden fence? Chain link?
What about inside their house? What’s on the shelves? What kind of furniture do they have? Painted walls or wallpaper? Is everything old and worn or brand new?
The pictures in a picture book give the illustrator a thousand ways to express the inexpressible. Things not mentioned in the narrative can be explained and revealed … things about the characters, their lives and their settings.
Picture books are a pony-owning creative’s dream-come-true!
And it’s important, because, remembering my own childhood experiences with picture books, kids will be inspecting every line and word on every page. I always enjoyed pouring over the pictures after reading the story. I wanted to catch all the details I missed on my first trip through the book.
Creators of picture books need to be diligent … we have a tough audience who will catch our blunders and sloppiness! We don’t want them to be impressed with our work for all the wrong reasons!
We want them to read, discover, and have lots of those Aha! moments, because we’ve done a good job of expressing the inexpressible!