Monday, January 24, 2011

Walking On Air

 Making a book is a labor of love. When I began to illustrate The Lord's Prayer, I wondered if I would survive the process. I guess I wonder that with every book.  Never-the-less, I just received the new book in the mail. Whew. A lot of mixed emotions, because the journey is always challenging. And wonderful.

  If you ever see someone who is walking about three feet above the ground, they are probably an author or illustrator who has just seen their newly published book. I feel really privileged to be in this business.

 When I was trying to figure out how I would illustrate this interactive poem, I thought about family and the wonder of one generation following another. In the Magnificat, Mary sings of God's mercy
from one generation to another.

 How does one illustrate stuff like that? "Oy vey", says me. I have to be careful not to freak out at the beginning of a project. Breathe. Calm.  It's all going to come together.  Trust the process.  OK, so I set up a photo shoot with my son, Jesse, and his son. When I painted the illustration I actually combined my hand with Jesse's holding the little hand~his son, my grandson.  I found the whole experience powerfully moving.

 I enjoy the ritual of applying the gesso and meditating on the imagery to come.

 I tried several other gesso colors.

 Then experimented with silk screen inks in combo with the gessoes.

Next,  I did an under-painting of alizarin crimson with sap green. Someone told me that the Italians liked this method. Gee, that makes me hungry for spaghetti. I'm not trying to be cute or stereotypical. It's just, you know, Pavlov.
 
 Now I'm  adding some silk screened patterns.

 Alrighty, more silk screening on top of the other patterns.

 Hey, since we're here, let's add even more.  Yeah!!

 I can't stop myself.  Pull the rip cord, pull the rip cord!!

 Well, maybe just a little more. I am after all using the sun as a metaphor for the glory of God. Yes, I know, I am so in over my head. Who could ever do justice to the grandeur of the sun, let alone the glory of God? Not me, for sure. So I'll just do what I do and hope for inspiration and understanding.

 I am always amazed by the wonders shown us by astronomers, especially when they use different kinds of telescopes to see the different wave lengths of light not normally visible. I played a little with that in this painting. I could have gone on for months experimenting with layers and subtleties, but... well, you know.

"To see the world in a grain of sand and Heaven in a wild flower hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour"~ William Blake

26 comments:

Faith Pray said...

I love seeing the multi-generational journey you took to reach this brilliant piece. Beautiful. Congrats!

Kristen Schwartz said...

I can't wait to see the book. It looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing your process and your journey...

Zuzana said...

Beautiful description of a journey of discovery. And accomplishment. I am sure anything where your own feelings and impressions and experiences are involved and what is done with the power of a heart will turn out magnificently.
Congratulations with a finished project.;)
xoxo

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

stargazer said...

Thank you so much for revealing your process - I loved seeing the progressive sequence as you added layers and colours - beautiful :)
It is wonderful to see how you went about this project - obviously quite a personal one too.

storyqueen said...

I cannot wait to see this book in person.

The are no words for the beauty of your Sun.....

MollyMom103 said...

This post made me want to cry in a good way. You inspire me so deeply as an artist. I don't know how to explain really; it's like a hungry feeling to go as far and deep as I can to reveal the inward fire burning. I see in your Sun that spark of the spirit of life. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Julia Kelly said...

I am always amazed at how you can capture light and such a transulcant effect- thanks for showing a hint of the process!

Ren said...

Im stunned!!! But in a nice way!!! Ren x

ruthie said...

Wonderful, how inspiring to follow this creative journey & on such an emotive subject too. Job well done! i to "believe in the process", i do i do !! I now want to go away and try with big bold colour. thanks Jesse ( ps happy new near wishes very late i know oops!)

steven said...

oh my goodness richard this is world-altering stuff! i would so love to bring this book home and open it up and see every page unpacked the way you did this one. greedy? oh very much so!!! meanwhile, i'll be looking to score a copy of the book as is. steven

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thanks, Faithy.

Glad you liked getting a peek at the journey, Kristen.

Zuzana, I appreciate your feedback. I know that as a scientist you no doubt discover both the immutable and the mutative depending on how you look at it. That's why I love fractal imagery because of the curious interplay of chaos and order. And I know you ponder the stars on many levels.

Martha, you are amazing.

Thank you Stargazer. It is fun to see other creative expressions of one's process.

Thanks for the kind comment storyqueen. I'd be curious to hear what you think of the rest of the book, if you happen to see one.

Gosh, Molly, I really appreciate your response. Hugs. Hunger is a good way to express the creative yearning. That's exactly right.

Hey Julia. I love seeing your processes too. This reminds me to make some more of your posole. Oh boy, I have been trained by Pavlov.

Wow, Ren, how nice to hear from you. I love seeing your creative work as well.

Ruthie,Ruthie, thanks for your comments. You inspire the likes of us with your explorations and musings. Can't wait to see more of your studio and etsy site.

Steven, you make me laugh. Thanks, all the same. I'm doing some talks about the book in Canada, wish you could join me. Vancouver, BC is just a tad out of the way for you, however.

Kat_RN said...

Don't know why you worry, your work is so beautiful. I love the sun image and the hands. YOU are good at what you do.
Kat

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thank you Kat. Ditto. Hope your antebellum wonderland is revealing new treasures to you through the seasonal changes.

Jeri Landers said...

I wouldn't begin to know HOW to illustrate the Lords Prayer, but I am pretty sure you did a magnificent job of it. I only say this because I have several of your books and know what you are capable of. Your process in creating the SUN is way beyond me, I am a simple watercolor gal. I am about 3 months away from finishing up a new book.
I know what you mean about giddiness mixed with a little fear when you see that package which contains your finished book. I have always been very anxious when opening up similar packages and have often ended up in tears. It just never comes up to par with my original work. But somehow, I get used to it and end up loving the finished book eventually. Congrats on a new masterpiece, I will be purchasing it.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thanks so much Jeri. Your water colour paintings blow me away. I am really curious to see your final results with your new goose painting. Really amazing. The world you live in looks like a pastoral wonder. Fun to see it migrate into your art.

Michaele Razi said...

Great post! And I love seeing the progression of a piece. It's really gorgeous!

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Hey Michaele, thanks a lot. Love your web site!

jesse joshua watson said...

Truly, if folks knew the depths you dive to find your artwork, they would FREAK out. You are the most amazing artist I know. Now or anytime. You really embody the essence of whatever the equivalent of method acting would be in the art world.

And the imagery in this book is exquisite. The perfect balance of detail and freedom and white space.

So proud of you, pops.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thanks, Jesse. Love you.

Robin Weiss said...

Amazing, beautiful work! .....along with a very cool insight into your process...Come down and visit us Richaed!

Jennifer K. Mann said...

Oh Richard. Your work is so beautiful. Thanks for showing us a hint of how you did it. I sure would love to peer over your shoulder sometime and see how you REALLY do it!
The Lord's Prayer was my bedtime mumble (took probably 5 seconds) when I was a child, and I now use it as a meditation when I just can't turn off my bizzybrain in the middle of the night...there's a lot in it, and it's a lovely refrain. I'm looking forward to owning the book!

The said...

Richard,

I've been teaching the students at Highland Terrace about your work. They are captivated by the magic that defines your art. I look forward to sharing this blog with some of the classes this week. I've never seen an illustrator so poetically detail the steps they took to create a painting. And you ended it with the perfect quote from Blake. We look forward to your visit on Friday.

Frank Kleyn

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thanks, Robin. I'd love to pop in and see what you are up to. Your work always inspires.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Jennifer, I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. I agree that the Lord's Prayer is a lovely refrain, and filled with insight into human need and yearning.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thanks, Frank! Looking forward to our visit. I can tell that you have a terrific connection with your students. Really shows. Can't wait.