There is something extremely calming about Fiona Woodcock’s artwork — I would describe it as the hygge of picture book illustration — because each time I read one of her books, I feel so relaxed and content, gently swept up by the subtle colours and textures she creates. A Dot in the Snow is beautiful, uncomplicated, peaceful — and yet dramatic in composition of scale and landscape.
Illustrator Fiona and author Corrinne Averiss have been nominated for a Kate Greenaway Medal for Dot, and so here, Fiona talks about her creative process.
A Dot in the Snow, published by Oxford University Press and nominated for a 2018 Kate Greenaway Medal.
FW: As soon as I heard the title and Corrinne’s concept for the book — the idea of a little polar bear spotting a dot in the snow, I was totally captivated and knew I wanted to work on it.
My initial brief was to do something “artful,” which as an illustrator is a real gift!
I spent my Christmas watching wildlife documentaries to get my head around bears and snowy scenes. This was invaluable and helped to spark off compositional ideas for the landscape spreads.
We decided early on that it was important to highlight the environmental impact on the melting polar ice caps with the cracking ice spreads. This influenced the character design of the young polar bear cub Miki and we resolved to have him on all fours, rather than anthropomorphised on two legs. This slightly naturalistic approach seemed to help place him in the snowy world, where he has to contend with all the perils of the harsh environment.
I did lots of printmaking experiments to create the landscapes, printing with rubber stamps, and polystyrene from a pizza base was great for ice. I then composited all the elements digitally.
As well as the relationship between the characters, I was keen to capture their relationship with the environment, the filmic potential and the sense of space and distance covered on Miki’s epic adventure.
Corrinne sent me a link to this Björk track which she listened to whilst writing the book. It then became my soundtrack whilst illustrating it and we played it on a loop at our London book launch at the Bright Emporium!
My huge thanks to Fiona! LM
If you’d like to work with Fiona, you can reach her via her agent, Arabella Stein here.
If you’d like to know more about Fiona and her picture books, click the link below.