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Sharing the View

A web page for sharing images and ideas about the creative process and the making of an illustrated book for children.

Light and surface

The sun never knew how great it was till it struck the side of a building.
— Louis Kahn

A vital part of the creative process is not knowing where you're going, or what the end result will be.  I know the story I'm going to tell in this book with some detail, but I haven't settled on a visual style for the illustrations. If you imagine a line that spans from photorealism to cartoonish abstraction I will need to find my artistic home somewhere on that line for this project. The search for that home is FUN.

All artists that aim for a recognizable image depict light on surface; it's all we see after all, unless we look at the empty and black between the stars. The images above are versions of a digital sketch that I've been using to experiment with morning light and shade as it hits a Philadelphia row house scene.  One of the characters will live in this house or a house like it. The top image is intentionally flat in mid day light, and the lower image has dappled morning sun and shade applied to it. The results so far aren't to my liking (nor have the many other attempts been). But I think I'm inching up on it. The story needs the right kind of light so it's worth the research and effort that I am investing.

I hope in the end that it all looks easy, but it's not of course.  I'm reminded of a quote from Robert Adams, one of America's best living photographers and certainly one of our finest and most intelligent critics. "Why do most great pictures look uncontrived? Why do photographers bother with the deception, especially since it so often requires the hardest work of all? The answer is, I think, that the deception is necessary if the goal of art is to be reached: only pictures that look as if they had been easily made can convincingly suggest that Beauty is commonplace."

Jeffrey Warden