A New Way Of Looking At The World

Recently I’ve used some weekend time to experiment with other styles of illustration. This has mainly been driven the realization that any lengthy illustrated book, like a novel, would likely be quite expensive with full-color illustrations. Using black-and-white illustrations only would seem to be the best alternative.

But even so, as you can see in today’s main illustration above, I can’t get away from having at least some color! Even what appears to be black-and-white is actually a warm black-and-white.

When I put a filter over this illustration to make it truly black-and-white as below, it feels to me like some of the “life” went out of the illustration. See what I mean?

For further comparison, below are two different styles of the same basic illustration. On the left is what you would normally see here on “My Life With Gracie.” On the right is a different way of looking at the world, at least the world of my chickens.

Personally, I’m unsure which I prefer. (My chickens like the scratchy texture, but then scratching around is a good part of their day!) Most likely it will depend on the type of story and intended audience.

For me, one thing that really stands out as a major difference is the eyes. On the left, they seem blank and unblinking. On the right, they seem more alive.

Anyway, just wanted to share with everyone what I’ve been thinking about and working on.

Also even though we have finished our little series on “Gracie’s Summer Reading List,” Amelia spotted a book that we didn’t get to read yet. The title? “Amelia Bedilia Unleashed.” If that wasn’t enough to get her attention, the cover also has shiny glitter on it. Chickens love shiny things like glitter.

Thanks for looking and reading!

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

29 thoughts on “My Life With Gracie…New Ways Of Looking At The World

    1. Thank you, Judi. I hope you know how much I value your comments. “The audience is all.” That is something I need to keep in mind whether I’m writing or drawing. The “aliveness factor” is definitely something to consider. Thank you again so very much!


    1. Thank you, Ruth. I feel like I have to have color too because it definitely can affect my mood (much the way music can). I am thinking that perhaps fewer illustrations but in color. Color = Life! Thank you so much for your comment. Very helpful!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That is interesting what effect it has on the eyes. Personally, I think children would like back and white more if they got to see it more. I vividly remember many works of Garth Williams, Pauline Baynes, and the various illustrators for Dick King-Smith. I can’t see anyone not liking your pictures either, colored or not. Gracie seems to speak for herself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Garth Williams illustrations are a classic in my mind and experience. I can’t imagine any other illustrator for “Charlotte’s Web” or “Stuart Little” (to mention just two).

      “Children would like black and white more if they got to see it more” is really something to consider. When I was in elementary school in the sixties, the printing industry was very different. But I remember how I absolutely loved the simple drawings from the “Doctor Doolittle” series. I read all of those that our library had. When they closed the school several decades ago, I was able to take one of those books from the library discard pile. It’s still in a box in my garage. Hey! I think this weekend will be a great weekend to find that box of books!

      Thanks for commenting. I have learned so much from the people who follow “My Life With Gracie.” Readers like you have helped to shape both my writing and my drawing, and I appreciate that so much. I especially enjoyed your closing sentence “Gracie seems to speak for herself.” Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you store things like I do, I wish you well in trying to find the box! But I agree, many of those simple illustrations are timeless. Like a dream, they provide a sketch of the words. Like remembering a dream, we have to fill in the details. That ends up being a far fuller picture.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are so right. Some of the books I have in my house already are ones that I had as a child, and when I’m drawing I think of those illustrations. Several weeks ago, I opened one of those books and was surprised to see that one of the illustrations I had been remembering was very different than the image I held in my mind. As you say, we fill in the details and then have a far fuller picture!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You are right with the eyes, but somehow the grey pics seem not to be an adaption, but a totally different style, which makes the chicken a different personality. I mused over it for a while and I think I’m missing the strong outlines which are characteristic to your drawings. Have you tried to keep the outlines and just fill them with different shades of grey? Sorry I’m reallly not specialized in painting so just an idea …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are absolutely right, Ola. Well observed!
      The outlines are missing. Thus, the lines between graphic and painting are blurred.
      The black/white versions look like aquarells / water paintings while the colored illustration seems to be more related to a computer graphic, comic or anime.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ola, thank you so much for your comments, and it truly does not matter to me whether you specialize in painting or not. I verify much appreciate any comments because everyone brings their own perspective to any type of artwork. I see an illustration through my eyes and my experiences but I have no way of knowing how others see it through their eyes and their experiences…unless of course they tell me!

      I too missed the strong outlines. At first I had included them because I missed them so much, but they didn’t seem to feel right. To be honest, I have also been thinking about a style that uses just strong outlines, just black on white (no gray), very much like German woodcut prints. In my memory, somewhere way back in my memory, I remember having read a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales when I was in elementary school which was illustrated with black on white (no gray) woodcuts. The illustrations held my attention as much as the stories, maybe a little more.

      Anyway, thank you so much for taking time to share your thoughts. I learn so much from my readers. Thank you so very much! John

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the eyes of both black-white versions. They are much more vivid, expressive and 3-dimensional.

    In my view / case, all 3 versions provide a different atmosphere / mood and associations or cliff hanger like expectations…

    On the first sight, I thought the warm black/white illustration refers to the scenario of an intruder who is caught by a night-vision video surveillance system.

    The unfiltered cold black/white drawing does not convey this effect.
    It has got its own, less distinct charme.
    Maybe because of the subjective perspective…the viewer is on an eye level with the chicken..there is less distance or a contact compared to the other 2 versions.The chicken looks sceptical, which means she knows the viewer somehow…

    In the colorful illustration, it is not clear if the chicken knows the viewer. It looks a bit surprised, insecure or even frightened….or the chicken had a short night or a hangover…

    As you can see, John, I do not have any clear preference…it depends on the story you want to tell.
    But I understand that there are also cost considerations, which reduce the choice to the 2 black/white options.
    Okay, according to the German proverb: If you cluck,you have to lay an egg.”
    The warm black/white gives an old school / antique impression. I am a child of my time. And you and your feathered family is living in the Here & Now too. Your insights & wisdoms are universal and up to date and not retroperspective.

    Thus, I prefer the “clean / pure” black/white illustration…if you want to know my opinion.


    1. Thank you so much and yes, I absolutely always want to know your opinion! You and my other readers have been so helpful over them months in providing feedback and knowing what works and what doesn’t work. I don’t want to live in an isolated creative “bubble” where I think everything is just wonderful but in reality doesn’t reach people in a meaningful way.

      “It depends on the story you want to tell” is so very true…so very true! And perhaps at this stage, I need to make sure that I have the book completely edited, or edited enough to present and then think about what style of illustration fits?!?

      Olga’s comment about missing the strong outline was very telling as well because I had originally thought of just using black on white (no gray) illustrations, much like German woodblock prints I remember from some books when I was a child. Their boldness and simplicity always caught my eye. I’m wondering if my chicken stories have a similar boldness and simplicity?

      Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you. As always, you give me so much to think about, and we all appreciate you so very much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂Thank you.
        Yes, you are right…It might help to know the story firstly.
        Actually, illustration means literally “the picture accompanying and explaining the text”… 😉
        It reminds me on myself. Usually, I have got a picture in mind before I wrote a haiku or poem. I am much more in drawing than in writing. My texts seem to be often just comments or subtitles to the image.

        I am also in interested in photography. Many brilliant “cinematic” photos are able to tell the entire story.
        The motifs and compositions of your art are much more illustrations up to now, in my view.

        Whatever you will decide how to go ahead we love you and chickens and will follow your empathic , thoughtful and heart-warming stories.

        It is also very exciting to get an insight into your creative process.


    1. Thanks, Henry. I had not considered that, but you are absolutely correct. I think it has possibly to do with the modeling and shading which give a more 3D effect.

      After I read your comment, I tried doing the same type of illustration effect in color, but it didn’t work as well as either of the black-and-white versions. That was unexpected! (I was thinking the color would make it even more ready to “perform some sort of action,” that it didn’t work out that way.)

      Speaking of Claymation, have you ever seen any of the Wallace and Gromit films? They are absolutely the best!

      Thanks for your comments and for giving me even more to think about!


  4. Yes – the greyscale seems more ’rounded’ somehow – only rather dark (maybe even sinister with a couple more strokes…)
    Not that I’m any kind of art connoisseur (I even had to look up how to spell it).


    1. Thank you, Cathy. You are quite right about the dark strokes. I had been thinking the same thing and a few more dark stokes would indeed change the feeling to “sinister”! You are quite right.

      (You have made me think of writing a “Haunted Chicken Coop” story right now for Halloween!)

      Your comments are truly appreciated, and honestly, since I’m writing and drawing for “just regular folks like you and me,” I really don’t need the opinion of a “connoisseur”! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think this is the majority opinion from readers. Color illustrations are feeling more “right” to me as well, even if they do boost the cost of a book higher. I’d like to think that the stories I write are worth holding onto, and that would help to justify the higher cost. Thanks!


    1. Thanks for your input. I agree, more vividness and life. Really interesting to me how what seems like a small thing can make such a big difference. “Amelia Bedelia” is such a fun classic!

      Liked by 1 person

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