In May, I wrote a blog bost proclaiming that I was finally emotionally ready to continue working on my illustrated book about grief.
I'm happy to report that the book is coming along well. I'll be finished with all 60 illustrations by this Friday. It is a book designed to be a companion for adults who are experiencing grief. It starts with depictions of the emotional, mental, and physical effects of grief, followed by sections on coping mechanisms, social interactions, and how to supports others and ourselves. I do not offer any "solution" for grief or even suggest when it will end. Instead, it is an exploration of grief that I hope will help those experiencing it to feel more normal, laugh, and better understand themselves.
The first step that helped me to tackle this book was to create a story board. A story board consists of tiny little sketches for each page of the book. It helps to determine the overall flow. After doing this, I then marked which pages still needed to be illustrated. Here's a pic of my story board.
I then set to work creating illustrations. I love the process of creating illustrations. Sometimes, ideas just pop into my head. Other times, I call friends and family to ask if they have ideas about how to capture a particular aspect of grief. Once I have a rough idea, I do a quick sketch of it on sketch paper so that I won't forget it.
When I'm ready to make the illustration, I find a reference image for the animal on google. I then make a pencil sketch on watercolor paper. Once I'm happy with it, I complete the outline of the animal with black pen, then erase the pencil. Afterward, I bring the animal to life using watercolor!
For all of my illustrations, I chose to create them with black outline and watercolor. The illustrations are
simple, with no background. I chose to complete them this way for multiple reasons. One, I wanted the reader to focus solely on the character. Two, I wanted to symbolically represent how consuming grief can be. How easy it is to be trapped in oneself and not see the world around you.
Once I complete the illustrations this week, I will use photoshop to shrink the illustrations to the proper size and add text. I will then compile it into a digital document to send to people for feedback. It is my goal to send that document by the end of July.
Thus far, working on the book has been a very rewarding experience. I showed a friend all of the illustrations I have made thus far. He then asked me, "Which one of these are you?" I didn't quite know how to respond. He paused and then answered the question himself, "Wait. These are all you." That was the perfect answer. Grief can be so frustrating and confusing because I experience so many conflicting emotions. Now, I have a visual representation that lets me show others what grief is like.