Three Blind Mice
The ‘farmer’s wife’ refers to the daughter of King Henry VIII, Queen Mary I. She was a staunch Catholic whose violent persecution of Protestants earned her the nickname ‘Bloody Mary’. Three blind mice refers to the massive estates which she and her husband, King Philip of Spain, owned.
The ‘three blind mice’ were three Protestant noblemen who were convicted of plotting against the Queen – she did not have them dismembered and blinded as in the poem but she did have them burnt at the stake instead.
This is a typical illustrator/editorial collaboration for an educational illustration project, even though we were continents apart…
The brief comes in; mostly written with a few examples of what has been done already. In this case it was for one illustration for an educational publication.You sketch and send back the first draft of ideas. They are almost always sent back with notes, like a positional guide. You make another round of sketches, this time following the brief more tightly and accurately. For me the second or third round of sketches is the last one and I make the sketches more finished In this case I pointed out where I had placed the required features. If there is time (often there isn’t) I’ll add some colour or my signature black line in the hope of giving some extra assurance that I have got it right (finally). A couple of days later you get the go-ahead to do the colour art (I prefer to sketch and sketch but to paint less). I will have already decided how I would tackle the colour, or been asked to work in a certain way.
I have always admired ‘watercolourists’! I also always thought, deep down, that it is a classical medium and that there are only so many ways to use it. But after seeing a few ‘modern’ ways to use watercolour I was inspired, or courageous enough to use them for the sketches stage of a new book project. I must admit to being very nervous when I sent the water-coloured roughs to the publisher but am happy to report they went down well. With a bit of practise and luck it might help me widen my appeal as a children’s book illustrator.