LEMONADE IN WINTER,G. Brian Karas,17 August 2012 Blog Post

A while ago (2 1/2 years to be exact) I posted this on my blog about a book I had just begun to work on, LEMONADE IN WINTER by Emily Jenkins.

why is it … ? 26jan10

That book is now published and will be released next month (Schwartz and Wade Books, Random House). Some jobs go from start to end without a hitch. This wasn’t one of them. But like many things that take an unexpected turn, the outcome was a good surprise. See more about LEMONADE IN WINTER on the talented author’s wonderful website http://www.emilyjenkins.com/lemonade.html.

What I want to talk about here is the circuitous route the artwork took. It’s important for me to ground a story in a place that’s real, even though most of the time that place becomes unrecognizable in my art (except to me). I don’t remember what eventually led me to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, but that’s where this story happened for me.

I drove there, parked my car and wandered off to take photographs and find Italian bakeries. I took a lot of pictures and ate a lot of sfoiatelle. When it was time to go home I couldn’t find my car. I retraced my steps countless times. I really started to get nervous hours later when it began to get dark and my car was not where I was sure I had left it. I became suspicious of the men’s club who commandeered half a block for their BBQ and even asked if any of them had seen a car towed away. A kind Jamaican woman led me block by block through the neighborhood until I finally found my car, exactly where I thought I left it, only 3 avenues away.

When I began the artwork I jumped right into another unfamiliar neighborhood. I decided to create the art entirely in Photoshop. I had used that software only once before for a book but was confident I could take it on again and get even fancier with lots of photo collage and textures.

It didn’t go smoothly. Finally, months after the due date went by I delivered what I thought was final art. I thought it looked good though some pages might need some tweaking. As soon as I heard my art director’s voice on the phone I could tell I wasn’t even close. I silently panicked while trying to figure out how long it would take me to start from scratch.

Luckily, starting from scratch turned out to be unnecessary. I learned about a desktop printer that would enable me to print out the digital artwork on just about any kind of paper I wanted. I bought one, printed the pages and set about finishing the artwork with my trusty pencils. The end result, though not what I had in mind, had a quality I couldn’t have anticipated – a little grainy, muted and unfussy, there was something about the art that felt real, which when I think about it was what I was after all along.

Originally posted on G. Brian Karas’ blog Book Art. Used with permission of the author.
Karas is a prolific author/illustrator of children’s books. Visit his website to learn more about his work.

Updated 01/01/14

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