About a year ago I had an inspiring meeting with the wonderful editors at Skyhorse Publishing. It was so refreshing to meet with people in the publishing industry who are so enthusiastic about what they do. We discussed enthusiastically our favorite children's books and illustrators from classics to contemporary. This experience made me think a lot about my own favorite stories, how they affected me and also how I would approach illustrating a book; a task that I admit seemed overwhelming at the time. One book that I have recently discovered is Pinocchio. My most recent visit to Florence coincided with the anniversary of the publication of the book by Collodi and I picked up a copy in italian. I had previously only been familiar with the Disney version and was surprised to find not only how dark the original story was but also how many colorful animal characters it involved. From the Rabbit Undertakers to the Poodle Footman not to mention the Cricket Ghost plus a menagerie of dogs, cats, a snail, squirrel, owl. I realized it presented the perfect challenge for my first series of book illustrations. Here are the first finished drawings and painting, I'll be adding more as I go along.
First I had to work out what Pinocchio would look like. I thought he should be simple since he was a puppet carved out of a piece of wood. Even though he is quite mischievous in the story I also wanted to portray his innocent and trusting nature.
This is a drawing of the piece of wood Geppetto finds that originally inspires him to create a puppet. I wanted to create a number of the images in black and white since most books require both black and white and color illustrations. It was a challenge for me but I wanted the drawings to look purposeful and not simply black and white versions of otherwise color images. I have always loved using Kohinoor Negro leads and pencils which are unfortunately no longer made. They create such a rich, velvety black when I use them on Stonehenge printmaking paper!
The scene where Pinocchio is sick in bed is one of my favorites as it is filled with interesting characters. These are the Rabbit Undertakers that appear carrying a small coffin to frighten Pinocchio into taking his medicine. It was only after I had finished it that in reading over the Italian text I realized there were supposed to be four rabbits, black as ink! Well I suppose I could get away with dressing them is black but if I ever put this into print I'm afraid I will have to re-do this one!