I was perusing my favorite news source this morning (Facebook), and learned an astonishing fact.
FACT: Today is Neil Diamond's 70th birthday!
I found this highly serendipitous, as I have been wanting to write a Neil Diamond post forever! AND, JUST LAST NIGHT my husband suggested I dress as Neil next Halloween! (this was coupled with his brainstorm of a movie idea: The Prince and the Lauper, starring Prince and Cyndi Lauper. This is the kind of quality news item you'll see if you're friends with ME on Facebook).
What does this have to do with children's books, you ask?? PLENTY. You see, Neil Diamond is- in a tradition reaching back to the very beginnings of human creation- my muse.
As I was plotting out the climactic event in Olympig, I knew I wanted the illustrations for those scenes to be big. Show-stopping. There would be spotlights. There would be drama. There would be sequins- oh, there would be sequins. And who better to look to for inspiration than Neil Diamond?
Which leads me into an actual, real topic worthy of a blog post on an illustration site: using photo references for inspiration. I love gathering me some reference photos- in this case, to get ideas about dramatic lighting.
Besides Neil, an obvious source of inspiration for me was the Beijing opening ceremonies. I've mentioned before that color is something that I have to work at. Working from the photos on my (as Martha Stewart might call it) "Inspiration Wall", I can borrow color schemes I like.
Besides lots and lots of photo references, I also keep physical references around when I can. I've mentioned before how I make clay models of my characters.
For Olympig, since he wears a sequined outfit in his grand finale, I thought it important to have some sequins on hand to see how they look in various lights. So I bought a pair of sequin shorts purely for the purposes of artistic study. Solely for that reason and for no other reason whatsoever.
The end result? This is the color study I came up with for the next-to-grand-finale page.
I'm showing the color study and not the final piece here, because it's at an awkward stage just at the moment. More like a bad Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper than the Majesty of Neil Diamond.