Jim Harris Talks About Illustrating...
The Trouble With Cauliflower
You have to admit that a book called The Trouble With Cauliflower covers a very important topic. In fact, the main surprise for me when I read the manuscript for the first time was that it was so SHORT. I mean, I could have filled volumes talking about “the trouble with cauliflower.”
Having said that (mostly for the benefit of my mother… who could not think of one SINGLE trouble with cauliflower the whole time I was growing up)… I must tell you that the book The Trouble With Cauliflower actually purports to show that there IS no trouble with cauliflower. In fact, it tastes fine, smells great, looks charming (thanks to the art, I might add) and will not – although there is some confusion over this at the beginning – bring you bad luck.
It almost convinced me.
I said ALMOST.
The only time I eat cauliflower is if it is chopped up into invisible pieces and surreptitiously slipped into a lettuce salad. And my wife gets away with that only if I’ve been up 48 hours straight trying to meet a deadline… thus my taste buds and visual apparatus are only functioning at half normal capacity.
Personally, I think variety is the most important thing in a diet. A good variety would consist of something like pepperoni pizza, followed by ham pizza, then mega-cheese-supreme pizza, triple-pepper pizza, sausage pizza, cream-cheese pizza, chocolate pizza…. You get the idea. I feel strongly that a steady rotation of this type of variety completely eliminates any need for cauliflower.
And now that we are on the topic of variety, I would like to move over to the idea of variety in artwork. ANYTHING to get off the topic of cauliflower!
Variety is actually very important in artwork. And one of my favorite ways to use variety is in textures. Some people say my artwork is “detailed.” But there are many places it isn’t detailed at all… it just has a lot of variety in the textures.
Here’s Mortimer, the hero of The Trouble With Cauliflower, making a very good point about one particular cauliflower casserole. (I can’t tell you the point or I’d give away the plot… )
Anyway, this illustration would be boring if it didn’t have different textures for your eye to enjoy subconsciously when you look at it.
There’s the chair seat… a knobbly kind of texture
There’s Mort’s shoes…. a glossy leathery texture
There’s his socks… chunky lumps
There’s Mort’s fur… spiky texture
And his nose… a smooth, almost shiny kind of texture .
Now maybe it seems like all this happens automatically… but it doesn’t. You have to purposely notice the textures in the objects you’re painting and choose to emphasize them in your brush strokes (and even before that, in your preliminary sketch)… for them to show up clearly.
Not all artists choose to emphasize texture. Some almost ignore it and get a sense of variety through other things, but I love to play with interesting textures.
Images and Text © 2009 Jim Harris. All Rights Reserved