I love my job, I'm fortunate. Just lately I think I've turned a corner, finding techniques and ideas a little easier, discovering that I can work more confidently and fluently than before. For some reason I've attracted foreign publishers; it feels exotic, romantic even, sending pictures over the oceans and mountains and across the Equator... to be reborn as pages of books which will be read in languages that sound nothing like my own.
However, at the same time it often feels as if these are the only
proof of my existence! Whilst I'm whizzing around the world in one
dimension, I'm becoming increasingly rooted to my home turf in every
other - more and more confined to base. My contacts are just names,
in black lines on a white screen. We type hi and best
wishes and thank you... we meet deadlines... but we'll never
meet each other. My actual
world becomes smaller and my physical meetings fewer, the more my
pictorial world widens and the further my communications travel. Such irony.
There are so many imaginary voyages to take so I spend more
and more time inside my head. Outside it I too am just a name in
black lines on a white screen to someone somewhere. Real and
imagined universes mingle as I paddle out to the
farthest reaches of my mind to conjure up scenes I'm never going to
witness because they don't exist. I try
to catch them as they hover up there in the top right of my brain
like distant butterflies, often behind some misty ethereal screen,
frequently elusive until they choose to reveal themselves. Once
caught I must pin them down, sharpen
their blurry edges, fix their constantly metamorphosing forms and
seal them on paper, make them tangible, black and white and still.
Well really this is just a fanciful way of telling you that my
latest brief is to illustrate a baby zebra, wearing a large floppy hat with
a feather in it, giggling whilst sitting in a tyre swing being pushed
by Grandma. The zebra, that is. There are legs and haunches and
hooves and ears to consider... how could a baby zebra sit in a tyre
swing?! How does Grandma Zebra push it? How will baby wear the hat? Would illegal substances help?
Soberly, I'm still searching up there (brain, top right,
behind the misty screen) for the answers. Then I'll have to trap
them in black lines on white paper. Obviously in this case lots of black lines. In due course paints will flesh
them out further and one day, hopefully, they'll be reincarnated in
the mind of a child across the Atlantic who will look at the pages and see
what I saw, then take their own imaginary voyage...