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.

betta-photo

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):

Betta_fish

 


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Tin man (work tittle)

Here’s a new story I’m currently working on, which started as a quick sketch with no intention of doing much with it. But as stories go, this one just spoke to me and I knew that I wanted to work with it to find out where it’s going.

It begins with a self-made tin man who lives in a landfill. He loves gardening and his three friends help him out and keep him company. But his home is in danger of being swallowed up by the heaps and mounds and mountains of trash that the near by city dumps every Wednesday. Moreover, the city itself is in a stinking trouble, of which it’s unaware … yet. It all starts to change when one Wednesday a girl named Delilah shows up at the landfill. This story deals with environmental themes that are close to my heart, along with cooperation and friendship.


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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

Earth_day_1

And because it’s ours!

Earth_day_2


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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.

Building a scene for a new story

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I think I know where the story is going but I’m sure it will surprise me at the end. Being able to go back-and-forth between the illustrations and the text is an interesting process. Some days I’m more wordy while on other days I feel there are things I need to figure out visually. It’s a very dynamic process and I like it because it’s never boring. I’ve written a synopsis which gives me a good idea about the main points in the story that I will need to address in writing and illustrations, kind of like a road map to main events. But it doesn’t mean that things are set in stone. Quite the opposite. I’m very interested to discover how it will turn out. I think the story evolves in a deep place within the writer, a place that is not entirely visible like a statue hidden within a block of marble. We got to do all this work to get it out of its hiding.


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Rocking third revision

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I dread the sight of an empty work space, so I cultivate a healthy pile of drawings on my drawing desk at all times. There should be something waiting for me in the morning to discover and think through a cup of coffee. Presently I’m going through a third revision cycle of illustrations for a book. It’s always exciting for me to have fresh new ideas that replace old ones, it’s an interesting process of discovery and a steady learning curve.
The more I work on images for a story the better I get to know my characters and their illustrations become more lively and fun to create. In the beginning I find myself struggling to form vague ideas into believable and lovable characters. Some times I have a good idea where to start and other times it helps to see how a character behaves through several drafts to form better ideas about her appearance.