Every semester, we read part of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird in our URI writing classes. We read the first part of chapter two, (called “[Crappy] First Drafts”). Here’s what she says:
and that is how I decided I was brilliant for picking “Little Red Riding Hood.”
The first sketch I made with both characters was so bad that I can’t even find it. I may have used it as a fire starter. I think it looked something like this:
But when I brought in my cover sketch and put it on the wall for everyone to critique, there were 5 other Red Riding Hoods and they were all amazing! I hated mine and went home and crawled into bed and didn't come out until the next day (which really isn't that big a deal because I get home around 11 pm, but still).
Meanwhile, I had to solve the Red Riding Hood problems, so I poked around on Google Images for a good wolf. I found this:
and suddenly the idea for the cover presented itself in big, flashy, mental neon signs.
Just for fun, we were asked to draw toys. Luckily Jesse's mom sent this!
Got finger cramps after that one.
We had three projects, and each went through an evolution of several crappy drafts.
1. Alphabet page. Pick a letter of the alphabet, write a sentence, illustrate the sentence.
2. Snowy Day. Inspired by Ezra Jack Keats’ Snowy Day, we had to illustrate 4 sentences from another book about all four seasons for young readers. The sentences were really dumb:Winter is here. Put your boots on. Find your mittens. You can build a snowman.
Winter is the cold season of the year. It’s a time for snow shovels and warm woolen scarves.
You can ride downhill on sleds when snow is on the ground.
You can have a skating party if your birthday is in winter. Invite all your friends.
I thought this would be really fun, but I hated it. Everyone hated it. I’m not sure why, exactly. None of us were finding inspiration. Maybe it was because we weren't ready to think about snow.
I liked my second set of drafts:
Jesse’s comment: “Those kids look like androgynous Teletubbies.”
3. Cricket magazine cover. I should have been thrilled to do this, but I still hadn’t figured out how to solve my Snowy Day problems without completely starting over and redoing everything. But we had to move on. To be inspired for Cricket, we spent one class period in the RISD nature lab. This building has shelves and cabinets lined with critters that have paid a visit to the taxidermist. There’s one cabinet full of just owls. There’s a room full of skeletons and nautilus shells. There’s a “Cabinet of Curiosities” that stores odd things in bottles with lots of formaldehyde.
|a wee mousie|
Then I went through 6 other ideas, wondering how I was going to get the desired effect, because Cricket covers often have a design that features something eye-catching on the front with a surprise on the back. Like this:
I went back to my original idea and drew more crappy mice.
|One of these mice is not like the other...|
|My teacher says my character is cuter than Fancy Nancy|
So, this is why I had to retire from party planning. But friends picked up where we left off and saved us from being hermits. Thank you friends! The final project for Photoshop was to make a movie poster. Friends, I'm sorry I couldn't squeeze all of you onto my poster, just those of you who post pictures on FB that happened to work with my idea. If my life were a movie, it would be called:
The sad end to this story is that there are so many things I could have done to all of these pieces but I ran out of time. I’ll have to put them away for a year and come back to them later. Oh well, what do you do?