An Artist’s Eyes by Frances Tosdevin and Clémence Monnet ~Blog Tour

It’s publication day and my stop on the blog tour for An Artist’s Eyes by Frances Tosdevin and Clémence Monnet and I’m delighted to be sharing a fascinating guest post by Frances on the inspiration behind the book.

This exquisite picture book feels like a piece of art. In every spread, we get a glimpse into the world the way the Mo the artist sees it. But Jo can’t see the world the way Mo does no matter how hard he tries.

Jo is a little boy who desperately wants to see the world like an artist in all its spectacular shades of green and blue and yellow. But all Jo can see is black…

Can some encouragement from Mo give Jo the confidence to tap into his creativity and imagination, so he can see the world in his own unique way? An Artist’s Eye an empowering story about the power of imagination and individuality that will hopefully leave you seeing the world a little differently. An Artist’s Eye is a magical book that will take your breath away.

And so, here is Frances to tell us about how this lovely book came to be…

If anyone is wondering how I came to write AN ARTIST’S EYES, the answer is a simple one — socks. Yes, that’s right, socks! Blue socks, to be precise.  As usual, I was struggling to pair a pile of plain navy socks, fresh from the wash. It’s a job I always find difficult.

“But what’s the problem?” asked my husband. “They’re all exactly the same colour —  navy blue!” To which I pointed out that they weren’t the same colour at all— but every possible variation of navy, having been washed into many faded shades. Pairing them was a pain and a puzzle!

That started me wondering whether individuals see things differently… do some people see more tonal variation in colours, for example?

A story started to form about a child and an artist going for a walk together. The artist saw colours in a multi-tonal way that was impossible for the child— who despite really trying, could not see the world in the same way that the artist could. After failure and frustration, the child in this early version finally learned to see colours in the same detailed way that the adult artist was able to. With help from my critique partners, the story was pimped and pruned, ready to go out. But after sending it to a few agents without getting any interest, I put it away and practically forgot about it.

However, I was thrilled when, nearly two years later, it caught the eye of Lucy Brownridge from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, with whom I had a 121 organised through I Am in Print. Lucy really liked the story and suggested some edits for me to work on, prior to taking it to their publisher meeting.

It was then that I had one of those jaw-dropping “aha” moments, when if you could have seen me reading Lucy’s editorial notes, you might literally have seen a light bulb going ping above my head! Because, said Lucy,  what makes Jo an artist, “is that he sees things in a way completely unique to his own artist’s eyes”.

Up until that point, my story had been about a child learning to see like an experienced artist. But Lucy’s insight was that the child should become confident in his own eyes and imagination, rather than just learning to see like someone else. Of course! It made perfect sense to me and it felt like a key piece of my story— a piece that I hadn’t even realised was missing — had finally been found! It made editing the text so much easier, as Lucy had given me concise but very clear pointers about story structure, and crucially, story heart.

While thinking through the changes I needed to make, I became even more of a night owl than normal! Walking around the kitchen in the middle of the night was strangely therapeutic, and bit by bit (fuelled by warm milk and biscuits) a new, more pro-active Jo was born. This new Jo — although at first frustrated at what he perceives as his own failure to see like an artist  —  gradually learns to see autonomously rather than vicariously; to create rather than to copy,  and by the end, to use his own artist’s eyes rather than to see through someone else’s.

Thanks to my editor, the story has ended up much stronger and with a clearer message that we are all artists —  because we all have our own unique artist’s eyes.

As for sorting socks? I still struggle! But I now try to turn a (colour?) blind eye when the shades of blue are mismatched! Jo wouldn’t worry about such things at all — he’d be too busy seeing the socks as swirly snakes or weird wiggly worms. Which I suppose is also a point of the story — to feel empowered to spot the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Thank you so much Frances for sharing An Artist’s Eyes origin story with us!

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 5 April 2022

Buy Now!

ISBN: 978-0711264830

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour

I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.

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