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Belinda in Paris presented its own special challenges. It takes place in Paris, a real city. I wanted my illustrations to be recognizable to anyone who has been there, and to give people who hadn’t been there an idea of what Paris looks like. But I also wanted my string bean elastic ballerina, Belinda, to fit in that world. I wanted to be true to Paris, and true to Belinda, too.

I went to Paris to research the book. I stayed with some very good friends who love Belinda. They took me to all the places they thought Belinda would go. I took over 700 pictures, and did a lot of sketching, too.

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Here are some sketches I did of the Paris Opera, where ballet is performed:

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The hall was so large and opulent that one sketch or photo could not do it justice. I took lots of photographs from one spot and collaged them together. I wanted to get the feeling of the room curving all around you.

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Then, as I sketched and painted, I made sure you, the reader, could see Belinda and the stage clearly. I didn’t want you to focus too much on individual audience members.

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You, like them, should be watching Belinda.

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inspiration | persistence | practice | belinda in paris