Good ideas don’t ever just happen when I sit to paint. I wouldn’t say I have a process, but I do have a basket of things that help me get from A to B. I sketch a lot. On scratch paper, journals, grocery lists. I sketch with anything I can get my hands on. A special pen, a pencil stub, stolen crayons from my son’s craft stash. Brushes. I don’t use too many. I gravitate toward a number 8 round tip brush for most of my work, but also use liners and larger fun brushes and towels for backgrounds. Sketching helps me get whatever is floating around in my head out. Days will pass, weeks sometimes. When I fumble onto something interesting that I like enough, I paint it.
I do a lot of research. Pinterest is a great resource. I also follow a multitude of inspiring blogs and successful picture book authors. I love to see what other artists are doing on a day to day process and support them and their struggles and successes. Instagram is a great place for that.
Reading. Children’s picture books to be specific. I read a multitude of picture books with my boys all day, every day. I love to see a finished story from beginning to end. The reactions from children can tell you so much about a good book. Of course, a funny book will always be a winner in our house, but a beautifully illustrated book with few or no words speaks so loudly to our imaginations.
Time to paint. I’ll take anything I can get. Three in the morning has been a popular time slot. I don’t gravitate toward painting at night, but it can have it’s perks. It is the most uninterrupted time of day to paint, but I love the light of a big afternoon window of sun. There is nothing like natural light. I also like to paint when my kids are around. I think we should do the things we love in front of our kids. It’s not always convenient, and they don’t give me a lot of time, but it’s important to me that they see what real passion is.
And after these little journeys of creative exploration, sometimes I end up with a piece I really love. I can always tell if I put my whole heart into my work because the process was slow, beautiful, and worth it.