About a year before she died, my mom went through the boxes and boxes of photos we had collected over the years and began organizing them into photo albums. She made one album in particular for me. It collects photos from throughout my childhood—though now and again you’ll find a random photo of her alone as well. She captioned each one—names, dates, locations, etc. (though what information she chose to include is not consistent—and some of the years listed, I think, are incorrect).
These photos and handwritten captions are the basis of the section I’m working on right now. At the good suggestion of Paula Knight, I’ve decided to slow down my process. I’ve been struggling with completing pages and then not being quite happy with what the “finished” page looks like (a panel will seem to be missing—or an image will read differently than it did in my head). Although I do take notes and have sketched the images before beginning “construction” of a page, these templates aren’t as elaborate as they could be. Paula suggested that before moving to the art (which is time-consuming and so a little heartbreaking when a page doesn’t hold together right), it might be a good idea to storyboard big “chunks” of the narrative. I agree. Too, I think I’m at the stage where I need to see what the “big picture” will look like.
And so today I worked on some of the transition pages—pages that will connect the tree girl narrative to the “conversations with my mother” narrative—that are based upon the photos and captions included in the album my mom had made for me. I’m not mimicking her handwriting as well as I’d like to—reminds me a little bit of how I not-so-successfully attempted to write notes in her handwriting in order to get out of P.E. class when I was in the sixth grade (I was totally busted!!!). But these are just storyboards and I may go through at a later stage and scan the actual captions and add her writing to the images digitally. There is something haunting about seeing the words that she wrote (a couple weeks before her death, she sat with me and, with pen in shaky hand, relabeled all of her pill bottles). Her handwriting is very curvy and swoopy—kind of like the line that I’m using to represent her.
Here are a few of the sketches. Still working on the lines and the writing—and I’m planning on cutting the frames out of craft paper to create a layered effect.