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April 2011

Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 16)

The fourth illustration is finished!

Now I'm half way to the end, 4 more illustrations in 2 more week. Yay!!

And of course, the book cover too, which will be like the icing on the cake :)

Stage small

Background lion small

Lion and mouse copy

I think that the lion and the mouse have good chemistry. It's hard to see the mouse's smile here because this picture on the blog is about half the size of the actual book.

Since the mouse is so tiny I had to make it as simple as possible in light and bright colors to help him stand from the dark background. I didn't want him to get lost in the whole picture. Can you see him well? I also left the background as clear as possible to avoid distractions around him.

Did you notice that the curtains are like nets? The mouse saves the lion from the net that he gets caught in. I wanted to represent the net but not on the lion because it would have been too complicated technically for Julia, (my paper engineer) so I thought: Why not making the curtains look like nets?

In another net, I mean note :), today we're busy with Diego, he has some evaluation to go through. It's very important because depending on the results he will get a kind of therapy that we have been looking forward to provide him with. More details in the future. 

I wish you a great weekend!!!

I will see you on monday again.

Elsita :)

BUT I HAVE A QUESTION before I go: Do you have any recommendation for this book cover? Any idea? My editor gave me a very good one but I would love to hear from you. I want the cover to be really special. Maybe you have an idea that we haven't thought about yet.


Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 15)

Tiny mouse letters copy

Rat in hand copy

Tiny mouse small

Please meet the tiniest member of the Fables of La Fontaine crew :)

He's sooo cute in person! 

For someone that's only about 1 inch tall he has lots of personality. A brave little mouse that didn't hesitate to save Mister Lion's life. Bravo for Tiny Mini Mouse!

When I was making our miniature friend I thought a lot about some news that I read a couple of years ago. It was about a Grandpa driving his grandchildren to some place. He suddenly had a heart attack, in the middle of driving. Imagine how tragic. His brave granddaughter who was a little girl at the time (about 8 years old) managed to keep the car under control. She was able to drive it for a few minutes until she found a way to stop it. Her amazing act saved her life and her sibling's lives. I can't remember if the Grandpa survived (I wish with all my heart that he did) but it's amazing what a huge action this little girl did. Let's never underestimate the power of little ones. 

See you tomorrow with the final illustration of The Lion and the Mouse!

Elsita :)

Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 14)


Yay! Mister Lion from The Lion and the Mouse is here!

Lion 1 copy

Now that he has joined the crew I feel as if I have known him forever. Making the exact Lion that I envisioned was great! I took my mind to interesting places for inspiration. My main source of inspiration was a lion that used to live at the Camaguey Zoo in Cuba. He was old and very quiet, I never heard him roar, not even once. I remember people yelling and throwing stuff at him but there he was, quiet and patient. I felt such a connection with him. People's lack of sensibility made me mad, but he was just so calm about it. I could imagine him thinking: poor people out there, they think that I'm stupid but I think that it's the other way around. I'm not going to get mad at them, I'm just sorry that they're so lost.

The moral from The Lion and the Mouse fable is that mercy brings its reward (the lion) and that there is no being so small that it cannot help a greater (the mouse). So I needed to represent a good lion able to exercise mercy.  I wanted him to have a more adult presence but with a nice childlike touch.

Lions eyes copy

Believe it or not the key element was: the eyes. I made some large eyes in the beginning, then medium size but they didn't work at all. Then I made these tiny eyes and he became instantly what I was looking for. You know, like people who wear glasses that make their eyes look a lot smaller. That effect makes people look smart and more mature.

To give my lion a little bit of power look I made him a simple vest and a respectable hat. A police hat (sort of) with a tiny crown badge on the front because he's the king. Now he's complete and almost ready to jump into the stage (which is in the process of being cut). 

And now: I will start making the teeny tiny little mouse. I am loving the very idea! :)

Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 13)

Yay!!! The third illustration is finished!

Each time I finish a new piece for the book I get so excited! It makes me happy seeing these little paper worlds on my table. They're so real to me.

Theater copy

I love this empty stage. It makes me want to jump into it and do a little dance.

Flores detail small

This tiny garden inspires me to create a whole line of fabrics with my designs. I think that I will do something in the future for Spoonflower. The very idea makes me very excited!. Imagine a series of fabrics based on these illustrations. They would look nice with a certain vintage atmosphere. What do you think? Thumbs up to that idea?

Blog small

It also makes me happy seeing the hare and the tortoise finally together. I think that after all they're going to become very good friends :)

Getting to study The Tortoise and the Hare fable in more depth was really inspiring to me. This book project in general is gaining a very special place in my heart. I only hope that once it becomes available in print it gains a special little place in the heart of children and adults as well. If everything goes as planned the book will be out there for Christmas. Yay!!

I will keep reporting tomorrow!

Elsita :)

Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 12)

Tortoise white background small


Yay!! Please meet my new friend the tortoise! Bringing this creature into the world was a real joy, because I love tortoises. I used to have a tiny jicotea when I was living in Havana. Her name was Dorotea.

Dorotea small

Dorotea loved walking inside my apartment putting two legs on the floor and the other two legs on the wall. She refused to walk like any regular tortoise, but I didn't mind at all. One morning Dorotea left my apartment without saying anything. I never got to see her again. She departed from El Vedado in Havana, Cuba, in 1998 so by now she must be approaching Los Angeles,  California. Maybe she will knock my door one of these days. But if she doesn't I will believe that her spirit came back to me through my new little friend  character for the book :) 

I wanted the little tortoise for the book to look sweet, modest, positive and wise, just like Dorotea did. I think that the hare from the fable is going to end up loving her. If you think about it, hares and tortoises make a great match. They're very different  but at the same time they complement each other.

Now, I can't wait to finish the stage for these two little friends. It's already in the process of being cut. I think that it will be ready tomorrow.

See you tomorrow!

Elsita :)

Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 11)

I'm so happy to be back reporting!

Today has been a great day regarding the book. I spent lots of time working on the hare character and trying to figure out the best way to represent it. (The fable in question now is The Tortoise and the Hare). First I thought about creating an adult hare in the scene where the tortoise presents him the race challenge. I thought that I would make him laughing and looking at the tortoise with a funny expression like: Hey! You must be nuts to think that you can beat me in a race!

But something about that idea didn't click with me. I just didn't want to represent a mean hare. So I ended up finding my favorite way to illustrate this character:

Hare 1 small

I created a young hare with an innocent personality. After the tortoise wins the race he's genuinely puzzled. He can't understand how the tortoise won the race when he's so fast. I think that by going in this direction I am communicating something positive to the children reading the fable. Sometimes we think that we're right about something until life proves us wrong. In this fable the hare is learning a very important lesson. As you can see his body expression is saying: OH man! I was wrong, I better learn this lesson. Also, I think that this tortoise is pretty amazing after all :) 

Don't you like this way better? 

Now I can't wait to start working on the tortoise. She has to be really special, because in the end I want her to look as someone who's teaching an important lesson. She should look nice and happy, like a good teacher.

Also, today I discovered the difference between rabbits and hares. One of my favorite things about working on this book is how much I'm learning about the animals that I'm representing. I never had the chance to study all these animals I detail. This book project is teaching me a lot as well :)

Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 10)

The fable that I'm working on now is The Tortoise and the Hare. A very good fable with an important lesson behind. The moral of the story is that slow and steady wins the race. 

I can say that the "slower" I work, the more I get to accomplish. Slow to me means savoring what you're doing, enjoying each step along the way and being focused on the right things. If you put pressure on yourself in order to work fast, in a rush, then your hands will disconnect from your brain and they will end up in two different places. If that happens you will find yourself feeling miserable, like walking in a dark room, trying to figure out how to get out of it. That feeling is not good at all. I have been there before. But experience taught me how to stay away from it.

Here I will explain how I help my brain and hands work slowly and steady:


Turquoise final small

Let's take one of my intricate papercuts as an example. If you look at it as a whole it will seem too complicated to make.

Deatil papercut small

But if you zoom it in and focus on a small single area then you will see a simpler thing. 

That's basically what I do whenever I work on a project. I first make a realistic general plan based on how much time I have available. Then I break down the big plan into small little daily tasks. Next I just take care of each task separately, without getting annoyed by looking at the whole huge picture. 

Each day I do the little tasks that I planned as if each one was the only thing that I had to do in my whole life. It feels really nice and light and simple, no pressure, because it's a small thing after all. When I'm done with one task then I jump into the next one. Many small tasks feel smaller than a BIG one. If I cannot take a long break between tasks then I take a short one. A short break means sometimes walking to the kitchen, drinking some water and then coming back, or tickling Natalie and Diego to make them laugh. That little break is like the dot at the end of this sentence. It helps you shape time in a way that feels relaxing. By the time my day is finished I have accomplished a lot. Sometimes more than I planned and I still had space for doing something fun with the kids.

I hope that this little advice gives you some ideas for dealing with your next project. Now as you read this I will be attending our annual Walk for Autism. It is always such a special event! I know that seeing so many special children together will bring lots of inspiration into the making of this book that I am sharing with you. 

Tomorrow Sunday is my full-day break. I will be having lots of Easter fun with my family. See you here on Monday and Happy Easter! 

Elsita :)

Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 9)


The second illustration is finished!

As you can see the colors here represent a morning scene. I want each illustration to have a totally different atmosphere in order to make the book more fun. As you pass the pages you will go from one atmosphere to the next. I don't want the pages to be super predictable, each one should be a little surprise :)

Theater background small

2 mice small

Banquet small

The food on this table is only about ten percent of what I wanted to include.

Food detail 1 small

Food itself could be a theme for a separate book. Someone should write a children's book just about yummy foods and maybe turn them into little characters. Maybe someone has already done so.

Food detail 2 small

Yum, Yum, Yum!

Town Mouse and Country Mouse copy1  small

Seeing this finished illustration makes me so happy!


Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 8)

Country mouse small

Town Mouse small

These mice are running so fast!! I hope that you get to see them!! :)

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to my friends the country mouse and the town mouse. They came to the world all dressed in their tiny outfits and so ready to play their roles. The country mouse is saying bye-bye to the fancy dinner. He just wants to run back to his quiet home in the woods while the town mouse is trying to convince him to stay, but it's not working at all. 

I'm having so much fun creating this illustration! I can't wait to see all the elements in it put together (the food on the table, the stage...)

The finished book will have 8 illustrations in total and I have only 3 more weeks to finish all the work. A nice detail is that the day of this project deadline (May 16) is also my daughter Natalie's birthday, she will be turning 8. How perfect! Eight illustrations for my daughter who's turning eight. Finishing this project on May 16th will be my special gift to her. I want Natalie to cut a little something for the book, a tiny detail, that way she will have some sweet Mom-related memory of this project in the future. I hope that one day she can show that little detail to her own children and say: See this little thing over here? I made it myself when your grandma was illustrating this book, I was just turning 8 years old :)



Fables de la Fontaine. Book in Progress (post 7)

I'm sooo happy that you liked my illustration of The Fox and the Crow!

Your comments made me so happy! Thanks a lot for your words!

Fox girl small

Now that The Fox and the Crow  illustration is finished I would like to thank someone that had a very special role behind the scenes. Her name is Rosalinda and she's Mr. Fox's wife. Rosi (as Mr. Fox calls her) spent lots of time encouraging Mr. Fox and making sure that his outfit looked neat. She ironed his pants over and over again with lots of love and starch, that's why they look so perfect, as if they were made out of paper :o 

Mr. Fox and his wife copy

Crows small

I also have to mention another character from behind the scenes. It's Mr. Crow's nephew. His name is Franco. Franco had all these ideas about how his uncle should hold the cheese. I have no doubts that Franco will be a great actor as well, he has lots of personality :)

Mr. Fox and Mr. Crow, together with their stage, will be flying to Germany soon, where they're going to meet with Julia, the paper engineer. I hope that they behave well with her!

And now I'm totally into the next illustration. This one is called: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. I love this fable because it has lots of visual possibilities. I will be making tiny food to represent the scene where the two mice are having a fancy dinner. It will be so much fun!! Now, what should I make for that dinner?

Watermelon small

I already made a sweet slice of watermelon, yum yum.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Elsita :)