Upon reflection, my recent journey of research and enquiry has been both rewarding and surprising. I knew I wanted to explore “Canadian identity through illustrated children’s books” as a theme, but selecting a keyword proved challenging. I eventually selected the keyword “Story” with the intention of examining uniquely Canadian myths and legends that could be applied to illustrated children’s books. This would also allow me to explore the idea of trying to pack as much “story” as possible into a single image. As a busy father of a three-year-old, I am aware that page-count, and keeping the story pure and simple, are key aspects in producing children’s books.
Keeping things simple is something I have always struggled with. Having settled on my theme and keyword I was horrified by how broad both appeared, but was excited by the possibilities they possessed. In an attempt to streamline my research I sought to break my process into three distinct avenues: technique, methodology and subject matter. My hope was that by isolating aspects of my process it would help narrow my focus.
A prevailing thought I had as I began this enquiry was that methodology was dangerous and that structure could stagnate creativity. As my research progressed, I felt this became my area of most profound growth, as I came to believe that a well-defined methodology could possibly be a key to differentiating myself as an artist.
With regard to methodology, I discovered the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung on archetypes and personalities to be very applicable in defining one’s individual process and methodology.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”
This is a sentiment that resonates with me as an artist. It also reflects my belief in technique as I subscribe to the theory that the key to evolving one’s own style is practice. I believe that by putting in the hours, an artist will gravitate towards the techniques and elements that come most naturally. For me detail, lighting and line of action as it relates to characters have been prevailing themes.
My initial concern that researching my theme would be very labour intensive turned out to be well-founded. My research opened the door to many ethical questions regarding bias in children’s books which I had not previously considered. I quickly became aware that these ethical considerations were not something I could ignore.
I had some set ideas on where I wanted to go with this topic but had underestimated the psychology involved in targeting children of different ages. This has led me to identify the subjects of child audiences and related semiotics as areas that require further research.
Overall I feel that my research and the related blog have introduced me to influential artists and opened up my eyes to some pertinent nuances regarding methodology and techniques. In addition I feel that the blog has served as a useful tool in bridging the gap between research and practice.