Here are my latest illustrations from the series of stories published in the Navaliya women’s weekly magazine. This week’s story was about a canine hero who saved one of my mother’s younger sisters when she fell into their bathing pond.
My job of illustrating the bathing pond and my grandfather featured in the story was made easier due to the fact that I was familiar with their appearance. As for illustrating the dog who happened to be the main ‘star’ of the story, it was not so difficult as I was told that it was a rice hound. They are by far the most common breed of dogs here in Sri Lanka and due to their smooth coat, quite easy to illustrate.
In the illustration above, you can see our canine hero in action. I used an A5 size medium grain cartridge paper by Artifolk which although only 160gsm in weight can withstand quite a heavy wash. This is due to the fact that the paper is made partly out of cotton. I love to work on this paper, especially with my waterbrushes. In fact, several illustrations for my mother’s first book of childhood memoirs were done using this same paper.
As for the colours, they are a variety of mixed media with watercolours predominating the illustration. The cemented floor and the bucket in the foreground were done using Derwent’s water soluble graphite pencils. Since I was a bit pressed for time I added a pale orange gradient to create the background using Photoshop Elements.
There was another aspect of the story which I wanted to highlight through the illustrations. I have noticed that unlike humans, dogs don’t seem to demand attention for their good work after the deed is done. Personally I think this is a quality which makes dogs such endearing creatures.
Having known quite a lot of dogs—including the ones who lived at my grandparents’ home—I did not have to think long and hard about the type of pose required. All I had to do was to draw a pose which reflected an ’all in a day’s work’ attitude.
For this illustration of the rice hound relaxing I used a cold pressed thick watercolour paper as I needed to apply several washes of brown. I started with a very light wash of sepia ink. Thereafter I used darker shades of brown (watercolour as well as Derwent’s Inktense blocks) for the different areas of the dog’s body. For the shadows I used a dark grade of Derwent’s water soluble graphite pencils.
Of course, the final test for an illustration of a story is the author’s reaction to it. As for the illustration above I found out the easy way. When my mother popped in to ask me something she saw the illustration I had just finished and exclaimed, “That’s exactly what our dogs looked like”! Needless to say I was thrilled...