Two years ago, I was working with a writer who had taken some ideas of mine and written the text for a children's book. I was dissatisfied with the results and ultimately had to abandon the project because I felt very constrained by the need to adhere to the text; there was no room to stretch and use my imagination and intuition. Then, in response to my complaints, someone suggested that I should create the illustrations first and then have someone write the text to go with them. When I connected with Leslie Powell and read her writing, I knew she was the right person to collaborate with, as I felt our work shared many similar qualities. We are both very intuitive creators, reaching into distant and strange places to bring forth works that are ambiguous and multi-layered, filled with meaning and energy, but never completely spelled out in a linear fashion. We also both tend to be very honest emotionally in our work, and address the wounds of the heart and the soul with a clear and compassionate eye.
It's a rather unique approach, as far as I know, to collaborating on a book. I created a series of images with graphite, ink and photoshop, based on the theme "personal childhood mythology," which means the stories I told myself as a child about my world based on thoughts, feelings, experiences and dreams, and Leslie created short prose poems and poetic pieces of prose to go with them. It's a reversal of the usual process where a writer writes something and then an illustrator embellishes the writing.
But it was more than a reversal; it was a true synthesis. It seemed as if Leslie and I were meeting up somewhere in the realm of the collective unconscious, because without her knowing the "meaning" of the image (I usually didn't know myself), she would come up with a story that illuminated and expanded upon the layers of symbolism in the piece in a quite remarkable way. I often felt as if Leslie were explaining my pictures to me. The combination of image and words became an entity that was much richer than either image or words would have been on their own. Apparently, when Leslie and I were sleeping at night, our muses were getting together in some dreamworld cafe to discuss just what the hell this book was all about...

David Aronson
August 2006