Taking Care

Here's an illustration for a story about taking care of a loved one who no longer can take of himself. And here's the story by Joanna H. Kraus. I encourage you to read it; it's sad but it's very nicely done, and it's a topic we're all likely to have to cope with.

The concept and composition came early and easily, but I struggled with the representation of the figures. Originally they were rendered more realistically. The man was in a wheelchair, and it looked like the woman was considering pushing him down the hill. I went through several ideas before I came upon this one.

Open in a new window for a HUGE image.

As I started coloring it occurred to me the composition was reminiscent of some Brad Holland illustrations. It's certainly not as clever as most of his work, but it has a very simple arrangement of shapes. I made a very soft, spattery and hard-to-control Photoshop brush, hoping to give the impression of dusty pastel.  I enjoyed building the textures up with thousands of swirling and erratic strokes. 

On the original file the variation on the tones of the textures were more subtle, and the pattern on the hill looked much more like the sky. Here it distracts the eye a bit too much for my taste. I don't know where in the process it changed for the worse, but I should have paid closer attention to that.  But, oh well. Them's the breaks.

I like how the figures came out, even though they're a bit rough and "unfinished" compared to my usual work. Ooh. I guess I could have done a better job on his left hand. I hate zooming in on stuff that's already done and printed; I see way too many mistakes and unfinished bits.

When I sent the image to the page designer, I cropped it down. It seemed too distant and empty for a newspaper page design. Maybe I erred. Or maybe I should have made the figures larger? 

Anyway. I really enjoyed working on this one and I'm pretty happy with how it came out, regardless of my whining and second-guessing.

The End.