Searching for a Monster

The Monster under Jacob’s Bed is a family story. My daughter Lily came to me one day and told a version of this story to me. Then she told me that it was all true and it was exactly how it happened. I adapted it to add to my performance storytelling pieces. I even recorded it and made CDs of it to sell.

As I’ve thought about making it into a picture book, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect monster. My original inspiration came from a book of images compiled of Children’s Book Illustrators. I can’t place my hands on the book right now, but I copied the image to put in my Monster Character bible:


In my character bible, I collected other images for inspiration:


Then a few years ago, I had the opportunity to work on the characters in The Monster Under Jacob’s Bed for a digital painting class at UVU.


It worked well for the assignment, but I’m still not in love with the monster.

I’ve often thought that collage would be a good medium for this book. So I tried a tight form of collage and hated the process. Then I tried a loose form of collage and like the monster a little bit more.


I found a book called Painted Paper (see blog post on it here) and I tried to do a spread with that technique which I loved the process for it, but I’m not sure if it will work in a children’s book. I’m still thinking about it.


Last year, I found in my stash of art supplies Lyra Aquacolor sticks. I love what they do when you stick the tip in water and then draw with it. I did a lot of tests with this to see what colors I like together.


I did a test monster.


Then I did the monster spread from my book with a similar technique. I really like the transparent paint on top of the monster here.


I started working on another image from my book and how the kids in the book will interact with the monster. I must have run out of time on this one, but I like the pencil drawing and I think it has potential when combined with the transparent paint on top.


This week, I pulled out the black gessoed paper and started playing with it. I really love the Aquacolor sticks on top of the black gesso. The black gesso feels like chalk board. The problem is how to integrate the children into the same spread as the monster and still use the black gesso as part of the picture.


I tried a whole spread, but I ended up covering the black gesso completely with acrylic paint. I’m going to finish this one, but mostly so I can learn something. I don’t think that this process is going to work for me in the long run. I got eye strain the first day I worked on this. What I do like about this so far is the look of the Aquacolor on top of the acrylic paint.


Another idea that I have but I haven’t tried yet, is to embrace the black gesso and the Aquacolor and draw everything in Aquacolor on top of Black Gesso.

I’m still on the hunt for the perfect monster. What do you think? Which of these attempts speak to you? I’m open to your suggestions and comments.

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