Yifat Fishman

Illustrations & Thoughts


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Betta fish

My sweet betta fish swimming gracefully in his 3 gallon tank is very entertaining. He has three tetra fish as companions but they turned out to be quite aggressive toward each other. Apparently you can’t keep a small school of tetras in a 3 gallon tank, as they attack one another. If you don’t know fish, what they would do is nudge and chase each other, making everybody’s tiny lives a total misery. I started out with four, ending with two. Then got nine more, thinking that having more company will ease their anxieties,  but ended up with these three brave survivors (or big bullies).
Such huge drama from a small fish…

Anyway, I meant to write about my betta, who while all that was taking place, minded his own business and got himself acquainted with all the soft hiding spots in his little domain. He even has a nice hammock to hang out close to the water surface and blow some air bubbles if he so chooses.

Here is a picture of him swimming next to one of his Marimo balls.

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Of course when I sat down for my daily sketch work he provided inspiration for this illustration, which as art goes ended up with colors quite different than the original subject of the picture. Let’s just say that mister Fish was the MUSE of this piece. And that’s a big thing for this little guy.

Here’s the illustration (note the tetras in the background):

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Earth Day

Tomorrow is earth day, a special day to remember why this place is special to each and every one of us, and to celebrate its bounty and beauty. From far out in space our world looks like  a blue marble. There is no other planet, yet to be found, that can support life quite like our blue planet. So let’s cherish this unique place that we call Home. Let’s make our best efforts to keep it healthy and clean. Let’s love it more, much more, throughout the year. Let’s make every day an earth day.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.”Chief Seattle

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And because it’s ours!

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About life and storms

So I’m thinking out loud here, since writing helps generate more thoughts and more ideas.

I have a story that I connect deeply with and that I’ve been returning to over and again, thinking at some point that it was ready for submission but then realizing that it could benefit from more work. Writing, rewriting, until it is absolutely done (for the time being). It’s about thunderstorms and music and artistic expression, and how the forces of nature are essentially unavoidable and should be accepted. It has this environmental aspect that is dear to my heart as an undertone. But at the foreground it is a story about conquering fear and the importance of being true to yourself. Now how do I write this for children?

Life is full of inspiration and surprises and so when I was visiting an office for some issue that needed taking care of, I came across this phrase. It was sewn to a pillow that rested nonchalantly right across from where I was seated.
And it said: ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain’.

I wrote it down along with some doodling, which made me feel immediately better, and it got me thinking. Maybe I should go deeper and figure out what is the difficulty or challenge that the kids in my story need to face, and eventually accept. Because the story does draw to a closure with a dance in the rain. And I want it to be much more than conquering fear. What were they hiding from, making excuses to, choosing to do or not to do? What challenges them, what do they need to overcome?

This story has two separate story lines that meet at the end. The protagonist and the antagonist resolve their differences and troubles when they collaborate and accept each other. In a picture book. In less than 1000 words. And it needs to feel real and touch y’alls hearts.
But maybe, and now I’m getting excited over this idea that I’ve been playing with for a while, maybe this book would work best in the format of a graphic novel… yep.

Since music is an essential part of the story and I feel it’s really about artistic expression and being authentic, I am thinking that the other character would be an artist too. And my new thought is that one of the kids cannot see, and maybe he is messing up his sister’s projects and when the storm scares him she tries to help him. And since he can’t see he has enhanced senses, like smell and hearing that works great with the where the story goes… and I’m thinking about it.
I’m going to let it simmer and let that ball of rawness push against my heart and mind until I cannot contain it any longer and would sit down to rewrite the story.


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Dancing Bears

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Things that I’m busy with while the kids are on summer break:

Write a synopsis for my next book. I gathered the ideas that floated around for the story in a short and clear paper.

Research and sketch character ideas for the new story.

Working on a (first) storyboard.

Carve a linoleum block for this merry group of dancing bears which I plan on printing later to check how printed bears work with painted bears in one piece.
I might attempt to create a GIF to show the work progress at the end of the project.


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Sky and a lot more sky

A quick update on what I’ve been up to and showing some work progress.

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My work suffered due to winter sicknesses and school break, but it was on my mind during that time. I was able to print a successful trial print of the woods, after which I started thinking about painting the sky above the trees. I tried different watercolor techniques, and also watched YouTube clips to get some ideas of how to create a picture of the sky in watercolors.
This was the subsequent painting

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After a day or so the painting seemed too nice and, bearing in mind that it was just the first attempt at painting sky and woods background, I had to ask myself if I wanted to follow that direction. And so during my kid’s school break I kept thinking about the sky painting that would work for me. At the end I felt that the sky should be loosely painted so that it would appear light and playful. Easily said than done!
Here are the sketches that I’m willing to share, you can only imagine what the others looked like, but probably shouldn’t . . . They do get better toward the end.

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Another thing I should probably mention is color choices. Between turquoise and cerulean blue I ended up mixing my own sky color.
And so the painting I liked most is pinned to the cork board above my table, and to the top of this post . . . and I can finally move on to printing.


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Pacing bears

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What’s behind this illustrator’s artistic choices? Let’s share some ins and outs of picture book making. When drafting my storyboard I planned ten spreads of full page illustrations, that is one large picture painted on two joined pages. And five spreads with spot illustrations, which means two pages featuring an assembly of several small scenes. Like this one, and the one below:

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When there’s a lot to say visually I may chose to break a scene into several small pictures. Perhaps I want to show that the character is doing more than one thing at the same time, or show a sequence of events that are connected, and since there is a limited number of pages in a book those events will group together on one spread.
Also there is the matter of pacing, which is a prominent element of a picture book. Several small scenes on one spread will read slower than one large scene. They may serve in building up anticipation to whatever happens next. They may create a sense of urgency or tension. And then the next page may be a full spread where the riddle is solved or possibly something big or dramatic will happen that is a result of the former hyperactive spread.

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