On March 30 I sent all the interior illustrations for LITTLE WOLF’S FIRST HOWLING to Candlewick Press for publication next Spring.
It has been an intense and exhilarating five months creating the final art for this book: learning Photoshop, (thank you Kevan Atteberry for help with that); collaborating with my sister Kate McGee, (I did the black layer, Kate did the color), and figuring out what the art would look like.
And now, except for the cover, it’s done.
I am reminded of a family story. My mom and dad raised five kids.
That meant every three years between 1962 and 1975 they joined the audience on the football bleachers at Sonora High on a beautiful June evening to watch one of their kids graduate. After the youngest, my brother Tim, was handed his diploma, Mom turned to Dad and said, “Well, Harve, what shall we do now?”
I know. It’s not really comparable. Mom and Dad worked on their project of raising kids for thirty years. Theirs was a much bigger “what next?”
LITTLE WOLF’s been growing in my mind and studio for less than a year and a half. But I did become very fond of him and will certainly miss the almost daily interaction with Kate as we worked on the art.
My cousin Jerry has a quote for times such as these. It’s advice from 1790: “The most sublime act is to set another before you.” – William Blake, Proverbs of Hell. Blake was in his mid thirties when he wrote that, and already he’d produced an impressive body of work: books and engravings, both. Clearly he leapt forward to each next task quickly and with joy.
But I am feeling a little empty. All I could do for Little Wolf has been done, (except for the cover). His boat has sailed.
I suppose this is why some author/illustrators work on more than one project at a time: to make it easier to face the end of possibilities when you send the artwork away.
I told Bonny Becker, (fellow BATT blogger), that I was having trouble letting go of Little Wolf. She reminded me of a picture book idea I had floated awhile back, a story that started with a mouse squeak.
“Get to work,” she suggested.
p.s. Mom took up air racing.
Our critique group met Tuesday and Julie Paschkis brought along a special tin of tea. It’s BATT Brand Finis Tea, made in Seattle and London. Ingredients: Wit, Wisdom, Labor & Love of Bonny, Julie, Laura, Margaret and Julie. Directions: Steep tea for three minutes and 32 seconds. Sip slowly and savor the sensation of sending it off.
We toasted Little Wolf with our mugs of berryblossom white tea. I get to keep the tin until the next member has a book to send off. A tradition is born. Thank you, Julie!