Storystorm 2021 Day 8: Slime Flies When Ashley Belote’s Having Fun
by Ashley Belote
Once upon a slime…I couldn’t resist! Slime! Something so seemingly simple has had a profound effect on my art and outlook on inspiration. When my art director sent me the manuscript for FRANKENSLIME, I was blown away by Joy Keller’s ability to turn the act of making slime into an adventurous, mysterious, and scientific narrative. Using slime as my inspiration, I set out on my own scientific adventure to create a body of artwork inspired by this unique substance categorized as a non-Newtonian fluid (how’s that for some science talk?!).
Inspiration constantly exists around us; we must be willing to recognize it or even create it. When I began thinking about how to illustrate this book, the first step was to completely immerse myself in my inspiration, literally! I made slime! Glitter slime. Fluffy slime. Ghost slime. Butter slime. Crunchy slime. You get it, I made a lot of slime. Being able to touch and feel and observe slime firsthand allowed me to learn about it through play. I had to think of myself as the main character, Victoria Franken, and interact with this substance. A lot of the funny scenes I drew were a result of my Pinterest slime fails and inability to admit defeat. I had a blast! As adults, we tend to look at things analytically and can sometimes forget to have fun.
Now, I realize that not all inspiration can be easily accessed physically, and there are times when we must look inward and rely on our imaginations. But this isn’t always as simple as it sounds; some days we feel like we don’t even have imaginations! No more of that! When I’m stuck, I complete the following drawing exercise to get my mind thinking in a different way. This trick is great for illustrators AND writers, so, if you’re one of those people who say drawing is impossible, now is the slime to put those thoughts away and get ready to play! (Did you like that one?!)
Step 1: Take out some blank paper.
TIP! If you can get your hands on a large-scale piece of paper, like 22” x 16”, DO IT! Trust me, there is something freeing about drawing on a big surface. You feel limitless. I am blessed with a creative mom and when I was a kid, she would bring home pieces of unused billboard paper for me to draw on. They were huge! They took up our entire living room floor, so the whole room was my canvas! Obviously, that isn’t something you can get from Amazon (at least I don’t think so…) but just try to get your hands on something a bit bigger than printer paper. Again, we are focusing on fun!
Step 2: ART SUPPLIES!
You can use pencils, markers, colored pencils…whatever you want! Just find something to draw with that feels good to you.
Step 3: Hold your drawing utensil in your NON-dominant hand.
For me, that is my left hand as I usually draw with my right. Close your eyes, place your pencil to paper, and make a sweeping, continuous mark for 3 seconds.
Step 4: Voila!
Open your eyes and see your masterpiece! Just kidding, haha. It probably will not be a masterpiece quite yet. Look at the shape you have created. What does it look like? Turn your paper to get a look at your shape upside down and keep turning until you see something. A moose? Maybe a river? An elegant three-story Victorian home with a walkway and koi pond? Wonderful! Now, once you “see” something or visualize the potential of your shape, start drawing it out. Add color, details, manipulate it to create what your mind’s eye is seeing.
Step 5: Use your inspiration!
Have you designed a landscape that can act as a setting for a story? Did you create a character? How exciting to be able to take this creation in any direction you’d like.
I love this stuff!! I hope you can use this technique to help find the fun in your inspiration and jumpstart your imagination going forward. Have the slime of your life! I had to sneak in one more As for me, I am proud to show the cover of FRANKENSLIME, coming to shelves near you on July 13th and followed shortly thereafter by its sequel, VALENSLIME, on November 16th!
Ashley Belote is the illustrator of FRANKENSLIME (2021), VALENSLIME (2021), and the author-illustrator of her solo debut picture book, LISTEN UP, LOUELLA (2022). She studied traditional animation under the direction of Don Bluth. Ashley earned her BA from Alderson Broaddus University and her MA in Arts Administration from the University of Kentucky. Her graduate study included a children’s literature and illustration course through Simmons College. Ashley lives and works in North Carolina where she creates artwork that she hopes brings lots of laughs to others. Visit her at AshleyBelote.com and and follow her on Instagram @AshleyBeloteIllustration and Twitter @AshleyBelote1.
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Source: Writing Competition