Friday, February 9, 2007

math lesson

That Lance Bark comic book has stirred up all sorts of memories, and some of them are kind of recent. Before I relay one, I should first say that, when I was in elementary and middle school, the paper that we worked on in math class wasn't called recycled paper, as I stated in that previous post. No, it was called math paper, but I said "recycled" paper because the last time I said "math" paper, I was stared at like I'd farted a ghost.

Anyway, when I was a kid, I used to draw on this "math" paper, not to mention graph paper, notebook paper, construction paper, and any other paper that was within arm's reach. And I didn't care what kind of materials I used to draw with. I didn't know the difference between a Rapidograph pen and a Marks-A-Lot marker (the kind that make you dizzy when you put it under your nose). I just drew. It was only in high school when I became aware that some art supplies were considered better than others, and college when this idea became firmly cemented in my brain.

I started to believe that (and this is no fault of my instructors, part of whose job was to suggest media that they had success with), I had to use Arches watercolor paper or Winsor & Newton acrylics to make pictures befitting a working illustrator. I guess, in the back of my mind, I thought that to use "lesser" materials would belie the fact that I was a professional, but I certainly wasn't conscious of this idea at the time.

Two years after I left college, I started working on my first picture book, Reginald, with Random House Children's Books (the Doubleday imprint, specifically), and about three months before I turned in the finished artwork (on high-quality Fabriano watercolor paper, no less), I was in New York visiting with my editor. She took me around the offices, and I got to meet a lot of the staff, including the publisher, Beverly Horowitz. On the way out of Beverly's office, I noticed a small, framed picture on the wall, an original cover drawing for one of James Marshall's George and Martha books (the one where they're in the hot air balloon) that Marshall himself had given to her. And guess what?

It was drawn on math paper with permanent markers. So, that was pretty neat.

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