This week in Make Art That Sells we’re focusing on children’s books. A great way to create portfolio pieces to show publishers is to illustrate a fairy tale or classic fable, and for this assignment Lilla has chosen Aesop’s fable, The Fox and the Crow (see full text at the end of this post).
The first thing to do is design characters:
Next, the world these characters would live in. I thought it might be fun to reimagine Aesop as a Mexican folk tale. Gave me a great excuse to use Mexican folk art, in particular alebrije painted wood carvings, as my inspiration. Lots of flowers, vegetation, and maybe some corn plants:
I like to work out the values in a black and white sketch before I work with color:
One of the many wonderful things about MATS is the amazing community of our classmates. They are ready with thoughtful feedback as well as supportive words. When I posted this sketch in our private Facebook group, one of my classmates suggested I flop the crow so that she’s facing the fox. Great suggestion! The next step was to add color. I used some Mexican pottery as inspiration for my color palette. I love alebrije figurines, but the colors tend to be a bit garish! I also took inspiration from a Mexican folk painting of a Tree of Life that had a rich red background:
On the right track, but referring to my alebrije inspiration once more, I noticed that the artisans commonly use an overall dot pattern in their backgrounds. I also separated the cheese drawing from the crow drawing so that I could color the cheese more naturally. Then I put some white highlights on the large blue flower to better balance the composition:
And here is the full text of the fable:
The Fox and The Crow
A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree.
“That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree.
“Good day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking today: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”
The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox.
“That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future: “Do not trust flatterers.”