Finding myself trying to make Greyfur too anatomically kangarooish was making my puppeting challenge hard. Indeed, my son asked me if the incomplete Greyfur face was a dog or a deer.
Other subjects I’d earlier considered making for the Puppet Challenge had included the following. All have been covered by other puppet challengers as it turns out.
The Big Bad Wolf
The Big Bad Wolf is a favourite topic of mine, as I’ve been a fan of Angela Carter’s writing for many years, but he’s not a local myth like Greyfur. I also find wolves pretty easy to draw because along with their doggishness is the fact that the BBW is now such an icon, that he is recognisable in any kind of shorthand format and is way above any kind of need for anatomical realism.
Wolfish types (above), bearing little resemblance to Canis Lupus.
Puss in Boots
Puss is also not a local tradition. Angela Carter does a fabulous rendition of this fairy tale too. And as I seem to be obsessed with Cornish Rex cats at the moment, my Puss in Boots sketches were distinctly Cornish in flavour; black, big-eyed, big-eared, narrow-framed.
Troll with Billy Goats Gruff
We live by a creek with a bridge so this had some local relevance. And this was the first one that I considered using the crumpled paper for. I had it in my mind that the curling horns of the goats would look great if made out of crumpled and twisted paper. And I was intrigued about the challenge of making three goat characters and capturing the varying ages and personalities of the three (a theme I had a lot of fun with in The Middle Sheep by Frances Watts.)
I seem to have misplaced my puppet goat sketches. They’ll turn up somewhere unlikely one day…
Greyfur the Kangaroo
A couple more sketches I found while I was looking for the goats!
So anyway… I went back to the wolves in the picture at the top of this post! These two rather weaselly looking wolves are plotting mischief together. Below are some photos of the fun and messy creative process the other night on my kitchen floor. The boys were having a fantastic time for much of the evening, playing with a sack full of puppets that I had tipped out onto the floor. Puppets really do inspire all sorts of creative play.
Two (Big, Bad) Wolf Brothers
This is where I had to stop. If I have time Brawn (Actually, I think his name is Willy) will get a nightdress slightly stained with blood on the front, and lacy sleeves from which will protrude his long, black claws over the bed clothes.
Brains (Hmmm… Ernest, perhaps, because he’s anything but earnest) will have working arms, but I’m not really happy with the high attachment I’ve started here. I think he’d be more impressive without such a distorted scale. I might give him long arms and move them with rods instead so that they can creep in from the side in a lurking sort of way. I think these two should look rather long and rangy like their original drawing, rather than dwarfed versions of themselves.
I’d love to add whiskers, but not sure where to get those twirly feathers from that people use on puppets. I could modify some of my chickens’ feathers I guess… But I’ll have to leave these rascals for now.
This is inspiring stuff – I particularly love the very free brown paper beginnings of your puppets and those amazing claws!
Thanks Gail! They are so much fun. I would like to make more in the future.
Hi Judy, I have missed a load of your blogs and am just catching up on a few. Your puppets are great, and seeing them evolve is almost like settling down and reading a book. You are so prolific in all that you do, tell me , do you actually get some sleep?!! I have really enjoyed these , I must subscribe to your blogs again as I don’t think it worked first time. Bravo !! (Actually, here , in France, they say ‘Chapeau’ too!)
Hi Liz, Thanks so much! That’s really lovely that you enjoyed looking at the process of making the puppets. It makes a big difference when people take the time to make a comment doesn’t it? You feel as though you have some company as you go along :-) And yes, I am a big sleeper. I need at least 8 hours a night, often more. And I am a fanatical reader of children’s fiction, (always formulating ideas about the way it’s done so that I can one day get something out myself) so time in each day is spent with at least a bit of that. Hence much of my artwork is done in quick bursts of impulsive self-expression or experimentation; very little at the moment is carefully considered, serious, finished work apart from my book illustration work, but I hope to change that somewhat when I finish with my current book. I hope your subscription works. There should be a ‘FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL’ button at the top of the blog, if it’s working… Or else the ‘follow’ button just sends posts to your WordPress Reader and you don’t get them in your email.
It works! I was down as a follower, but there must have been a glitch. You will see that I have received and commented on your latest blog. Now I will settle down to some archives, yum, yum. I understand that quick bursts-of-expression-thing, (when working in theatre and opera, that was exactly what I had to do, except they were never so complete as yours..That is why your works are so invigorating, it’s the spontaneity that gives them life. You have reminded me I must return to that way of working, I spend far too much time finishing and fussing, and then lose the life of the thing.
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