I’m having a bit of a rough week right now… despite my enthusiasm and anticipation for the new year. I am struggling a bit on which direction I should be moving with my portfolio. I took some time this morning to rifle through my old portfolios, which were gathering dust under our bed. I came across some pieces I worked on a couple years ago and decided to scan them in and add them to my website. Now… seeing the contrast between old and new that I dug up, I am second guessing my current direction a bit.
This illustration is based on a poem by Shel Silverstein titled “Captain Blackbeard Did What?” about the day he shaved his beard. I did a series in this style a few years ago (you can see more on my portfolio page) and have gotten wonderful feedback from anyone who has seen them. When I pull them out and look at them they always make me smile. However, in the past I wasn’t sure that they were colorful enough or expressive enough for children’s books. Now, seeing them side by side with my other work, I am beginning to wonder if I could find some sort of happy middle between the style and what I have been doing with my colored pencil work.
This illustration was actually a class assignment to do a book cover illustration for a classic fairy tale. I chose the Prince and the Pauper and I love the contrast between the smooth gold and the rough texture of the burlap. It was done in chalk pastels… a medium that I tend to avoid due to the mess it can make. However, I love how much movement it captured. I seem to work a lot looser in pastels… which might be something to explore a bit more this year. I also wonder if I could get achieve this (or similar) style in digital medium… something I would also like to explore a bit this year.
Most artists struggle with “their style” at least once in their career. I am definately no exception. I find that I enjoy so many different techniques and mediums that I have difficulty settling in. While this in itself is a great thing, it definately makes pulling together a “cohesive portfolio” to be a challenge.
I have a lot of thinking to do and would appreciate your opinions. Which pieces do you feel are my strongest, which are my weakest, and which direction should I go from here? Which of my styles do you feel would (if pursued) be the most marketable (don’t we hate that word) for children’s publishing? I also need to select a group of them to print for the SCBWI show in New York this month… which pieces should I include? Which ones would you leave out?