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Motifs in Mama Bear: Playing with Light & Space

Motifs in Imagery

Time for another Mama Bear (#bearbeast) post!

There is so much about this project I could talk about, and likely will given time. I am attempting to weave together themes of: mental health and depression in parental and familial relationships, my personal philosophy on introducing mental health to children at a young age, and exploring non-linear narratives - a small subcategory of children's books.

Today I just want to introduce some of the visual motifs I have been using to tie the spreads together and create a sense of space and environment.

Interior/Exterior Blending

I love magical realism in stories. The blending of interior and exterior spaces is one way I am attempting creative mood and explain the invisible nature of mental health. It also gives context to the existence of the bear. For example, in the above image the dinner scene is set outside, but there is a clock simply floating in the sky, as if it were a wall.

The Checkered Quilt

The quilt or checkering pattern throughout the book holds a similar role as the harsh light and dark spaces. It is a juxtaposition and forced mixing of tones and energies, which never actually blend, but simply coexist. The quilt is often associated with feelings of home and comfort, which use to strengthen the family themes.

The Little Girl

My little girl is both the narrator and spectator. The story is told her through eyes, but she is rarely interacting with her mother directly. Rather, she is showing her observations of her mother's well-being, separate from their relationship or her actions.

She is a she, based fully on the lack of human, female protagonists in children's books. I initially had the character as a little boy before becoming so aware of the disparity in representation. I plan to make her Southeast Asian at the request of a close friend, so that we can continue to slowly add to the diversity and representation of the world in children's literature.

Lights and Darks

One of the most obvious composition choices is the harsh light and dark spaces. I enjoy value contrast as a personal preference, but I also choice this approach as a visual metaphor for the lights and darks of the mind and their family dynamic. Sometimes there is more light, sometimes less, but it never just one.

Next Time

Thanks for taking a peek at my motifs and next entry I will let you know how my first critique with my SCBWI group went!

Be well!


About Me, Fia Sutton

Hi & welcome to my blog! I am a children's illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. I create handmade collages, 

watercolors & books that celebrate color, acceptance, & discovery. I am a creator of messy mistakes & happy surprises.

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