The trees, the trees.

I’ve started my new artist’s book this week, which may be called Into the Wildwood, or Into the Trees, or something along those lines. Into the Trees would be slightly strange as some years ago we used to go to a pub called The Trees; it was, of course, as its name suggests, quite close to Birmingham’s city centre, and has since been demolished. The last time I looked the site hadn’t been developed and was aptly overgrown, with trees.

Anyway, enough of these ramblings. Here are a few images of work on the first two pages, which were a challenge to make, set as they were against the background of my husband sanding floorboards upstairs. Our philosophy on sanding floorboards can now be simply stated: never again.

Now the first pages look a little grim, but at the start of the book it is the end of winter, just starting to move into a suggestion of spring. This was definitely prompted by the dawn chorus which I have heard a couple of times this week; it always amazes me.

The first two images show my sketchbooks and one photograph I took some time ago, which I decided to work from. The frog has been around before, but he wanted to be in this book too.

I also keep a storyboard going as I work through the planning of the pages of the book, as well as bigger sheets of drawings and design/layout ideas.

Image number two is part of the collection of materials I like to get together before I start, including another photograph I used to help with my composition.




And here are the first two pages, a double page spread, after machine stitching, with my text. I managed to incorporate some of the fairly abstract frog bones in it, after much experiment. However, I’ve now decided the poor old bird has to go; he’s far too obvious, and also on the far too large side of the equation.  I’m pleased with this decision as I was never happy with him. I’ll cut him off and he may get a role on another page.

This book is in portrait format, which is a change for me, as I usually  work in landscape format, but I seem to be conceiving each new turn of the page as a double page spread, which of course turns it into something more like landscape format. This may not be the case with every page though.

I’m teaching this weekend at the Inkberrow Design Centre in the West Midlands with a great group of students. It’s my first time there and it’s a very well equipped and relaxing place to work.

6 thoughts on “The trees, the trees.

  1. Thats absolutely frogs for you – always want to be in everything .. even dead skeletal ones. I am amazed that frogs have so many bones? – is it real? amd I being stupid? I sort of assumed they were mostly squishy? A double page spread is a fine thing indeed – indulge yourself old pipe. Is this one going to FOQ?? – H xx

    1. Yes, it’s a bullfrog skeleton in the Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum stores; he’s quite a big chap. I photographed him a few years ago, but really I would like to own him. Hopefully the book will going to FoQ Hils, on my stand, must do another page today. Sxx

  2. As I started to read this post it ocurred to me that it was like reading your internal dialogue Steph. Do you talk to yourself as you are working? I do ( I’m told that it’s a ‘woman of a certain age’ thing) but it helps me know where I’m going if I verbalise my thoughts.You are working on this book with real clarity of purpose I think. Looking forward to seeing it evolve.

    1. No I don’t talk to myself Lesley, but I do talk to the dog. Is that the same sort of thing? I also argue with the radio, which is more civilised than shouting at the television, which I also do. So perfectly sane, then.

  3. I love your double page spread. Trees are such beautiful things and an endless source of inspiration. I look forward to seeing how your book evolves.

    1. Many thanks Lin. The second spread is done now so I’ll post that soon, and the next one involves blossom, which I’ve been able to photograph recently, so I’m in tune with the season at the moment.

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