I fell in love with “Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color” the moment I checked it out from the library and read it to my son. Being an illustrator, the concept of a girl named, Swatch, who tries to tame color by collecting each one in a jar, spoke volumes to me.
All of my own artwork is filled with vibrant colors. I can imagine collecting them myself, just like Swatch did across the pages of this magnificent story.
The fact that Swatch realizes color can’t be tamed reminds me that sometimes, even in my own artwork, letting go and not trying to control everything is part of what makes it beautiful. This story’s amazing author/illustrator, Julia Denos, has a style of illustration that I completely admire.
Her colors are wild! They are splashed across every page, swirling and mixing, and creating their own masterpiece.
It is her colors very wildness that I find beautiful.
After reading this book over-and-over again, and never tiring of its words, I knew that this story would always hold a message within it that I would cherish. Being a lover of body art as well, I felt confident that Julia’s work would always be something I would look at and admire.
There is a part of the book that always gives me chills toward the end; one that I look forward to reaching each time I read the story.
**Disclaimer** This post will give away parts of the story that you may want to discover and read for yourself. You can stop here, but I would love for you to continue to see how I made Julia Denos’ work into a permanent momento for me.
When Swatch realizes that color cannot be tamed, she is riding on the back of Yellowest Yellow and she calls to the other colors (she has back home trapped in jars) and they come to her. The last line of the book is “Together they made a masterpiece.”
Not only did I want the image of Swatch riding Yellowest Yellow on my arm along with all the colors, I wanted that line of the story added in as well.
In the image, Yellow’s face is missing. Julia had included it in a prior image of him roaring and so I started trying to come up with my own face to add to the front of the tattoo. It couldn’t very well be headless if I was to add it to my body.
At first I went too dragon/fantasy style with it. My husband immediately reminded me that I wanted to stay true to Julia’s work and this, though it was nice, was far from her style.
After agreeing, I tried again. I drew an image that was more catlike, but still, it wasn’t quite right.
On the third attempt, I had exactly what I wanted. The new face for Yellowest Yellow was based off of what Julia had already come up with in the prior pages, and it reminded me of my Maine Coon cat, Mowgli, as well. We just recently lost him to illness, so this tattoo ended up becoming a bit of a tribute to him.
I also had added in Swatch’s gray cat that appeared in several pictures throughout the story. Since he reminded me of our Pixie-Bob/Siamese cat, Joshua, that past away a few years back, I had my tattoo artist (Jeremy Switzer, from Optic Nerve Arts Tattoo in Portland, Oregon) add subtle stripes to the grey cat’s legs and a bit on its back along with a white underbelly.
Now, not only did this tattoo mean the world to me because of its reference to the love of art, color, and illustration, it also was a commemorative piece paying tribute to two amazing cats that I’ve been fortunate enough to know in my lifetime.
The following images are of the completed tattoo right after getting it done, so the redness around the artwork is because of that and is not part of the original design (just in case you were wondering).
I hope you like it!
Definitely check out the book, “Swatch, the Girl Who Loved Color” by Julia Denos. You can purchase it on Amazon here.