This is happening. It’s actually happening! It’s been four years since my mother, writer Arliss Ryan, asked me to illustrate her collection of poetry about the constellations. I eagerly agreed, pushing aside a mound of internal doubts about working in color. Sure, I had mainly worked in traditional media in black and white, and the nature of this project called for a digital color approach, but I figured I’d cross that bridge eventually.
“Eventually” has turned into “now,” and in the past few weeks, I’ve been overwhelmed by the available choices. While learning oil painting in college, I had about 6 different brushes and 8-12 tubes of paint with which to work. In Adobe Fresco, the iPad app I’m using for the book, I can choose from literally HUNDREDS of brushes and MILLIONS of colors. I’ve taken several color theory courses, but knowing that orange and blue are complements isn’t enough to automatically pick the right orange and the right blue for the job.
I’ve immersed myself in painting over the holidays, testing techniques and brushes, watching tutorials online, and playing with color models to develop a visual language for the book. To make things easier on myself for once in my damn life, I started with Leo because it features a sculpture of a lion – a very limited palette! Sometimes placing limits on yourself in one arena can help you grow in another, and in this case, I’m pleased with the result.