Trudy and Dodds go to class

Tomorrow I’m lucky enough to have a spot in the Faber Writing Academy Picture Book Masterclass. I’ll be taking Trudy and Dodds, roughly formed as they are, to have a little work out.

To recap on Trudy and Dodds, this is a picture book project that I received a grant to develop back in mid 2012. The grant was part of a new Children’s Picture Book Illustrators’ Initiative managed by the ASA and funded by the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts.

One of the images I included with my grant submission. A little pen and ink sketch with digital colour.

One of the images I included with my grant submission. A little pen and ink sketch with digital colour. (Trudy in a purple shirt. Dodds on the billy cart.)

I drew dogs as the characters at that time because I have been drawing dogs (with and without clothes) for as long as I can remember. Has anyone else read The Lives of the Monster Dogs? But all along I really thought, I’d rather they were doggish than dogs: doggish, because dogs are part of human history, and if we aren’t mortally afraid of them, most of us love them. But not exactly dogs, because… just because. They are human really.

Unfortunately for Trudy and Dodds, the grant came just after I had accepted the manuscript for Thunderstorm Dancing and they got caught up in a delay of nearly three years! (Thank you to Lucie Stevens at the ASA for her patience in extending my timelines several times.)

But NOW, it’s time to move forward. And I’m excited about the masterclass tomorrow, and a little nervous. Not nervous about writing, because I love writing. But nervous about sharing my writing aloud for the first time since I left school back in the ’80s. Ahem! 

So this week I…

• Had lots of ideas about the medium, style and setting.

And got lots of inspiration for the architecture and setting from looking at Puglia and the trulli there. (See my earlier post on those here.) The architecture and setting are very important to me for this story, and were a big part of the original concept that I submitted to the Australia Council way back at the start of 2012. At that time, my inspiration was Mexico. But now! I’m going to be researching and recording the setting while I visit my friend David Capon in Puglia during April. I am so looking forward to it.

Trulli in a rough scene to open Trudy and Dodds

Trulli in a rough scene to open Trudy and Dodds

 FINALLY finished the first draft of the manuscript. (Hooray!)

I was having a lot of trouble getting the last quarter to work, even though I knew what was to happen at the end. What I didn’t want was a story that leaps into action and then sort of… peters out…. blaah. Yeah well… so then… hmmm…

• Started a DUMMY book for it.

I had my usual problems with this. I have trouble drawing the loose, loose, rough things to begin with that show the shapes on the page. I need somebody to stand over me tapping their foot when I am doing this, and looking at their watch. That actually works. If I don’t have a timekeeper I get all distracted with details in the pictures. And then… well then you need to change something because THAT isn’t going to happen on THIS page anymore. And then you go… errm… why did I draw that in so much detail? Doh! 

For a glimpse at how it’s supposed to be done, go here!

• Started making rough models for Dodds

And then bounced off those to make drawings for Dodds.

1 found bits Dodds

Dodds – Take 1

5 tape and wire karate 2

Dodds Take 2 – skeleton and sinew (of sorts). Is this a karate pose?

2 take 2 tape and wire

Dodds 1 and Dodds 2

11 head close

Dodds found his smile when the paper jaw went on.

7 full trousers

Dodds with paper bag trousers added

An initial sketch of the model. Finding my way

An initial sketch of the model. Finding my way

Dodds sketch

Dodds sketch with the nose, jaw and gentle expression starting to settle into place. He’s a gentle giant. I looked at Wrestlers from the 1940s for inspiration.

Tell you later, how we get on at class.


13 thoughts on “Trudy and Dodds go to class

  1. lizkingsangster

    Oh dear , I think I messed up on my comments, I wrote you one but I don’t think it came through. I’ll keep it short this time,. I love the drawings and the sculptures. Good luck with the Masterclass, look forward to reading about it.


  2. sear bear

    In terms of getting the proverbial wriggle-on, I was wondering if it may assist to create a giant model of a “Time-keeper”. This no-nonsense looking chap would wear a super huge wrist watch and you could position him to lean over your shoulder whilst you work.
    You could place a solar panel on his foot so it could tap-a-tap-tap.
    This would ensure success on the infinitely creative trail of illustrating (of which you are indeed a master. or is that mistress?)


    1. Judy Watson Post author

      Thank you Sear Bear. That sounds very helpful. He will have to be rather large to look over my shoulder, whilst also tapping the floor… unless he has extremely long legs, so I’m just wondering, are you able to cover postage? If so, I will be happy to accept your generous offer. Also, if possible, could you program him to be sensitive to mood? If possible it would be great if he could alternate the foot-tapping with soothing, encouraging words and possibly gentle classical guitar music.


  3. Peter

    i LOVE the casual ease in the poses you have captured from such humble materials, you make it look so easy! My models sometimes end up looking a bit stilted or rigid, because I tend to overplan them, which stops anything spontaneous happening whilst making them – uurgh! i’m such a control freak with my models, I need to take a leaf out of your book Judy and loosen up a bit (being able to sit outside in the nice warm sunshine might help, not possible in this country very often though)
    Looking forward to seeing more photos of them as they develop :-)


    1. Judy Watson Post author

      Peter, how nice of you to say such things. Your models are just perfect and so expressive within their perfection. You just have a vision beforehand, that’s all. In this case I was doing the making before I had a proper vision, so the looser materials worked best. (In fact the earlier toilet roll model went in the trash. Too stiff).

      But it’s very interesting to hear you speaking of loosening up when I have been thinking as I painted this evening of the very opposite. Over the last few days, I’ve had reason to haul out a lot of old artwork from the shed (some of it mildewed or otherwise stained) and while looking through it, I thought… ‘I’ve never got to the point of fully working up any of these drawings with a sustained effort. Everything looks like a preliminary sketch.’ Because I usually don’t like my work when I become tight with it, I mostly resort to quick work that makes success or failure seem somehow like a random lottery. Often I like the quick, rough or fluid lines that result, but really, it’s not enough to stop there. I need to find a way to make some mature work; to pour thought and concentration into some pieces that take hours to complete, are fully thought out, and still retain the energy of the original sketch.

      The warm sunshine is very nice however :-) We are approaching Autumn, and my favourite month, March. The light is soft and slightly melancholy, but it’s warm and wonderful outdoors.


      1. Peter

        I think the fluidity and expressive looseness you pack into your pictures are one of the main reasons why I like them so much!

        But I think you should go for it and rework/ re-do those pictures if the urge is telling you too! there is something very satisfying about revisiting earlier themes, correcting old mistakes and adding new elements. I also think it’s a nice way of marking your progession as an artist, whilst stomping about and exploring new areas but in familiar territory.

        ….the only trouble is knowing when to ‘stop’ and step away from the picture! :-)

        (Autumn in March?! that would take some getting used to! it’s nearly Spring here!)


  4. Pingback: Flying by the Seat of my Pants | endpapers

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