As promised in this morning’s post, here are more pages from Steve Light’s Organ Grinders book:
This book isn’t really a story, just drawings that could maybe become a story. But you can sort of read a mini story in each illustration.
I thought at first it would be a story about one organ grinder -- the guy I drew on the title page. Then to get some ideas, I did some research about organ grinders before drawing more, and it made me start imagining all the possibilities… So I decided to kind of make an account of organ grinders.
One interesting thing I learned is that many organ grinders rented their organs. And they often used the self-playing organs, like those old-fashioned self-playing pianos. If an organ grinder didn’t return his rental regularly, he’d end up having to play the same tune over and over, driving people along his regular route batty.
I had a blast drawing all different kinds of organ grinders, imagining how they might look and how they might dress. And different kinds of animals that organ grinders might work with… and different kinds of organs.
I made this organ that opens (to show its inner workings) using some pages that I cut out from the back of the book, and put down some color on this illustration, and a few others in the book, with pastels.
Fountain pens do not take waterproof ink -- it will damage a good pen. The non-waterproof fountain pen ink does not allow watercolor or the ink lines will bleed, so for the color I used pastels over the ink. Then to get more subtle colors, like flesh on a face, I’d use an eraser in some spots to remove a bit of the pastel and let more of the ink lines show.
I imagined how an organ grinder got paid, just a coin at a time, so I made a page to show off a day’s earnings. The pennies are cut out of copper. I scraped the designs into them with an awl and then rubbed black crayon into the grooves, then polished the surfaces, being sure to keep the black down in the grooves. To attach the metal to paper, I used Liquid Nails.
To see more images of this project and several others by children’s book author/illustrator/toymaker/teacher Steve Light, visit the Koloist flickr page. You can also search “Steve Light” in the search field in the Koloist side bar on this page.
And if you’ve not yet had the pleasure, treat yourself to a visit to www.stevelightart.com