Category Archives: blobs

Brain Doodles (for want of a better name)

After my last post, I went away for the weekend. I had a great time, and made lots of things that may or may not be finished at a later date. Mostly I had a lot of fun with papier mâché and wire. I’ll put pictures up here when I have a chance to photograph them.

Then I came home to a house full of sickies and then I got sick and then I jiggered my back. So here I am at last back in the saddle (chair) and getting up every few minutes to make sure I don’t jigger it again. But it’s all looking good. I’ve picked up the pencil again. And the rain has been falling, and the birds are swooping around outside like mad and some of them tapping on the windows and jousting with their reflections, because it’s spring. And those reflections might steal their girlfriends.

Getting back in the (drawing or painting) saddle for me is always a bit tricky, (and I know it is for a lot of other people as well). I have to make it as fun and easy as possible, because if I try to do something excellent, it will all end in disappointment. But in truth, I’ve been drawing and looking at drawings for so many years, that the warm-up period doesn’t take long any more. There’s generally a little swirl, a dark, bold line, a smudgy bit or a light feathery touch that I really like in each drawing, even if the overall image is not a total success. And I love art enough that those little lines or smudges are enough to make my day.

Last night I picked up a pencil and started doing brain doodles. Doodles of animals from inside my head; animals who bear not a whole lot of anatomical resemblance to live animals.

In another variation on doodling in old books (fun and not scary) or making art from blobs (marvellously fun and not the least scary) I used second-hand computer paper from Scott’s work with those cute little rectangular grab-holes along the edges. Some of them had messages or notes scribbled on them already. How completely friendly and un-scary can you get?

And then I started with drawing chickens, went on to horses, then dogs and finally a couple of arty-farty-non-picture-bookish Leonards.

brain doodle chicken

brain doodle horse

brain doodle horses

brain doodle dark horse single

brain doodle horse single pale moving

I'm putting this one in sideways because I like the message about back for lunch!

This brain doodle horse is appearing on his side because I like the back-for-lunch message!

brain doodle dog with soft mouth

This brain doodle dog is not meant to be unhappy or cringing. It was more about the shapes and curves. It started with its head up, and then I wanted the bowed head because it’s a curling up figure. And the dog reminds me of our old Hungarian Vizsla with the soft mouth, that would curl in a spongy smile when she was pleased to see us.

brain doodle dog sleeping

This brain doodle dog has a large head. Or a small body. It doesn’t matter.

brain doodle Leonard with word tail

A brain doodle Leonard with plant species notes under his tail feathers.

brain doodle Leonard swishy movement

A brain doodle Leonard with swishy bits.

Happy doodling, all.

ATTEN….SHUN!!

ATTEN--SHUN

ATTEN–SHUN! (Even Lassie came to see me. It must be an emergency.)

I have received a few nudges lately.

Yep. I’ve been lost in a world of moving house; a barrage of bills and boxes; a wilderness of wrapping. I’ve been so pooped, I can’t even alliterate for more than one sentence and ‘moving house’ doesn’t count.

squirrel dog

Inane Squirrel Dog running hither and thither. This is not me, you understand. NOT me.

But I’m paying attention now. I’m here. Thank you to the nudgers one and all, for hauling me out of my box… or boxes.

I visited a friend the other day and sat down to do a few harmless blobs over a very nice G&T. To make it even easier, I made them dog blobs. Dog blobs are the easiest blobs, unless you count stay-as-they-are blobs. (Chickens can do those without even trying, so with all due respect to chickens I don’t count them as proper blobs.)

In the spirit of the whole blob thing, where the blob leads the whole story every inch of the way, I promise to include each and every blob in this post, even the ones that are SO WRONG!! All blobs measure around 2-3cm across so it’s really quite impolite to be enlarging them this much. A bit like looking up somebody’s nose.

Okay, I need to get this one out there. It’s hanging over my head and it is SO WRONG!

so so so so wrong!

So so so so wrong!

Phew! All I can say is

THE BLOB MADE ME DO IT!

irish terrier x bull terrier

Irish Terrier x Bull Terrier in a bad mood (from a very nondescript blob.)

Dog breeders would say that this blob is all wrong as well. But I don’t mind him. He has a muscular, hardy look and may be useful carting boxes.

blue dog

Perplexed Irish Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier born on the wrong side of the breeding box.

Being Blue-with-Brown-Spots has proven challenging for this Wheaten Terrier. It reminds me of studying the theme of ‘between cultures’ when I was at school…

hip dysplasia dog

A victim of perspective

Reminding us all that one’s situation in life is all a matter of perspective is this young Springer Spaniel x Staffordshire Bull Terrier. With his back half shown from above in the Stafford position of repose and his front half shown from the side in full Springer Spaniel spring, he could see himself as either getting somewhere or going nowhere.

what the

Reg, the Space Dog

I have never seen a flop-eared dog do this before. His ear defies gravity. But perhaps Reg is in an anti-gravitational chamber and is practising to become a space dog. Luckily these days space dogs get to come down to earth again… I think.

Quite wrong. Pretty wrong. Almost certainly wrong.

Quite wrong. Pretty wrong. Almost certainly wrong.

This is Graham. Graham is undergoing hypnosis treatment, but not the kind you pay for. The hypnotist is an alien who has landed in the back garden and Graham was in the process of confronting him when an eerie light was switched on and began to swing slowly backwards and forwards… After that it was all up for Graham. I hope the alien is just going to take botanical samples from the garden, and not canine samples.

lick lick lick

lickety-split

Lickety-split means fast, pell-mell, gangbusters, like a bat-outa-hell… well maybe not quite as fast as a bat-outa-hell. So I think these two dogs are engaged in a contest to see who can clean themselves more quickly. They are fairly evenly matched for size and white areas, but my money is on the brown and white dog because his tongue is larger. Stands to reason. Also the black and white dog looks like he is losing his cool a bit. He may be trying to wash his tail. If I were he, I’d leave it until last and trust to it’s being black. Nobody’s going to notice.

 

 

The Blob Dog of Discontent

Emerson, the Blob Dog of Discontent

This blob dog is the smallest of all the blobs. Emerson was squished into the top left corner of the page. Perhaps that accounts partly for his disposition. Or, indeed he may be suffering from worms. (His posture is suggestive). But in fact, I suspect he was born this way and has been inflicting his testiness on everyone around him since puppyhood.

Even a dog biscuit would not help here.

Leonard Chooses His Hues

I have given the medium for Leonard Doesn’t Dance a lot of thought over the last few months. I knew that I wanted the style to be very different from Thunderstorm Dancing, quicker, looser, lighter in touch and for some reason sherberty… Ahem. Don’t ask me why.

And during my time in Italy, I was immersed in so much illustration at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair that it was the perfect time to consider what I did and didn’t want to do, and what was already done too many times elsewhere.

Ann James and I talked about illustration styles, strengths and weaknesses too. She told me that the key to good illustration is authenticity. When she looks at a folio of work, if the expression of line or character feels genuine, as though it really comes from the illustrator’s inner self, then technical weaknesses don’t matter so much. You can see the kernel of the artist in the work and it’s good. I’m re-phrasing of course, because I can’t remember the exact words that either of us used. But this is the gist of it.

So where does that leave me as a wandering artist, prone to changes of style? What is my kernel?

I came to the conclusion that I am very comfortable with my pencil, and my line is probably most expressive of my style or styles. Most me. I had decided that I would use pencil or fine liner (for the lightness of touch), white backgrounds on most pages, and colour the drawings swiftly and joyously in bright, (sherberty) digital colour.

Here are some old artworks for the sake of discussion of medium. None of them were drawn for Leonard Doesn’t Dance

parrot purr judywatsonart lores

fine liner with quick sherberty digital colour. (originally drawn for 52 Week Illustration Challenge – theme WORDS)

Perhaps this parrot cartoon isn’t a perfect example of what I had in mind, but it’s me, and it has the fine line that I want, the simple, swift colour and the white background. And it’s playful. Playfulness is key to this book.

new hat judywatsonart colour lores

loose lines with digital colour (originally drawn for 52 Week Illustration Challenge theme – LINE)

This continuous line drawing is a little heavier in line (a thicker fine liner) and heavier in tone too, on the cream background of a vintage book which was the very thing that inspired the work for Thunderstorm Dancing. But even so, it is me at my most comfortable with a wandering line… making it up as I go along.

So there I was. All decided.

Then the discussion of clothes came up with the Frances Watts and the publishing team.

Do these birds wear any clothes? Should Leonard be wearing those breeches? Or should he not?

During the course of this (somewhat cheeky) discussion I whizzed through some ‘Trouserbirds’ as evidence of the way my bird drawings had been going in recent times. Most of them were wearing trousers. The examples I sent were from my series of blob birds; all painted by starting with a pale grey washy blob, and then transforming it into wacky creatures with watercolour.

stork seaside 2

Fine liner, white background, sherberty. Paint instead of digital colour… (a blob experiment from 2014)

blob birds lores

fine liner, watercolour, trousers… why not? (These blob experiments from last year are darker in tone, but that is mostly about the shade of grey used in the original blob. Partly too about their wintery clothes which seemed to ask for deeper, more tweedy tones.)

Frances Watts was taken with the watercolour. Which gave pause for thought. Because I really enjoyed making these blobs and was already planning a book for them of my own. But there’s no reason why they couldn’t launch with Leonard…

More soon.

Experiments with Blobs in a Moving Vehicle (part 2)

This is the second page of blobs that I worked on in the train last Friday. In this case, I was deliberately turning them all into dogs. I think that if I draw enough blob dogs, one of them will begin to emerge as a repeating character who could star in his own world. The nature of blobs is that none do exactly repeat themselves… they are new and special in their own blobby way, but there are recognisable types and that is enough for my purposes.

Only about half of the blobs on this page were in a state worth posting. Two were accidentally sacrificed on the McCrae Beach on Saturday as I tried to colour them with borrowed art materials and sea water. The results were worse than you are imagining now.

Yes, they were.

As far as repeating types go, one thing is apparent already. I have a fondness for whiskers.

This is Angelina the Bearded Lady. (Miniature Schnauzer) She has been looking for circus work for a while, but so far has only been offered work as a rat catcher.

bearded dog lady judywatsonart lores

 

This is Hamish. (Border Terrier x Dandie Dinmont Terrier) Hamish is going to let the chickens out on a blustery spring morning. He never chases them, because he knows they don’t like it. HIs favourite hen is a Light Sussex named Leonora Carrington.

blustery boanket dog judywatsonart lores

 

 

This is Toby. (mostly Foxhound but his great grandmother was a Poodle) He’s a country dog. He left the foxhound pack when the others made fun of his moustache. Now he wanders the hedgerows and picks up a bit of work here and there. He is courteous to passing foxes, and they are sometimes courteous to him.

country dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Theo. (Wire-haired Fox Terrier) Theo is in a hurry to pull on his coat as he has to pick up the kids from puppy school. There are 14 in the litter so he is taking a truck.

dressing dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Gabriel. (Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier x English Pointer) Gabriel runs a delicatessen, and is renowned locally for his skill with making tarts. Once a fortnight he goes fishing and takes a picnic lunch with him which is made by his partner Phil. He enjoys taking a little time off cooking on those days. But if he catches a fish, he returns home with renewed vigour and invents a new fish dish every time. All of them are simply delicious. fishing dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Phil. (Irish Water Spaniel) Phil lives with Gabriel and is an indifferent cook as he gets very little practice. However he is a keen gardener and drives a lorry during the week. He’s also a bird fancier, but sometimes when he is watching birds too closely he has an irresistible urge to yap, which he finds mortifying. garden gate dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Madison. (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Cardigan Welsh Corgi) Madison lost her tail in an accident when she was only 3 months old, but she is wagging on the inside. girly dog judywatsonart lores

 

 

This is Adrian (Scottish Terrier) Adrian loves listening to Jazz FM on his new radio and has been known to bite the vet. radio dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Jean-Paul. (Irish Wolfhound x Cairn Terrier. His parents separated due to irreconcilable differences.)  You needn’t be alarmed for Jean-Paul because he is demonstrating for 25 young pups at puppy swim school, and is not really in any danger as long as he stays in the water. SOS dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is one of the puppies at Swim School. I can’t remember his name. He has just smelled a fart and is checking to see if it is his.

spooked dog judywatsonart lores

Experiments with Blobs in a Moving Vehicle

Don’t try this at home.

It must be done on the train or, if you are really brave, in a moving car.

1. Take some freshly painted blobs. (see my earlier tutorial here)

2. Now sit down in a crowded location, preferably with somebody looking over your shoulder.

3. Take a fine point felt tip and turn the blobs into creatures. Do not wibble-wobble!

train blobs judywatsonart lores

Page 1. I added the watercolour later. I will give 20 extra points to anyone who can do the watercolour bit on the train as well. (I am stingy with my points.)

Hot Tips: 

• Don’t worry too much about the person looking over your shoulder. Jiggle your page sideways until it nearly bumps them in the face. They may lose interest. Probably not.

• Do the fiddly bits when the train is on the straight and not about to pull into a station. This will work best if you know your railway line.

• Make your journey a long one. If you are worried about missing your stop, you will lose concentration. Do you have an auntie who lives a long way away in the country? Go and visit her.

Here are some close-ups, because I don’t really have any more to say.

Inspector Dog. (Giant Schnauzer x Greyhound. Possibly could be categorised as a lurcher. But this one only lurches when the train pulls into a station.)

Inspector Dog judywatsonart lores

 

Ernest. (Maltese x Chihuahua x Pug x Papillon)

Ernest judywatsonart lores

 

Noir Dog. (Beagle x Whippet x Wire-haired Fox Terrier)

noir dog judywatsonart lores

 

Muddy Madge. (Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. Yes, really.)

muddy judywatsonart lores

 

This is Finn. It’s always good to have a fish in your repertoire.

Finn Judywatsonart lores

 

This is Foxy. I could have called him Finn too. His friend is Frederica.

foxy judywatsonart lores

 

This is Dodette. She is uncomfortable with publicity.

dodette judywatsonart lores

 

This is Herman.

hummer judywatsonart lores

 

This is Gene.

chirpy judywatsonart lores

 

This is a Woman of Mystery. She has laddered her tights escaping… what? No. No. You’ve got it completely wrong. She carries a pistol in her pocket and is dodging out of the glow of a streetlight while she trails a criminal. You’ll have to imagine the gloomy alleyway.

noir lady judywatsonart lores

 

This is Alberto. He likes pancakes and reading detective novels, but only if he can read them in a boat.

Alberto judywatsonart lores

 

This is Cymbidium Night Angel. She is rescuing a puppy from Gene. Gene was going to feed the puppy to his wife and family. Now Gene and his family will go hungry. But the puppy is very happy.

Cymbidium Night Angel judywatsonart lores

I did another page of blob dogs, but perhaps I’ll save that for another time. I was on the train to go to the HarperCollins Inaugural Author Workshop Day, which was very good. It’s good to meet some of the other people in the large team who make books, and it’s always great to talk with other book authors and illustrators.

 

 

Blob Doodles in Bed

I took some blobs to bed with me last night and a black felt tip. It being bed time when I painted my blobs, I wasn’t quite on the ball enough to remember to do them on watercolour paper so the paper has buckled and they lack the nice gravelly edges.

But it was a meditative and relaxing (but also kind of stimulating) thing to do, propped up by pillows in bed. Turning my page this way and that trying to find the hidden creature in each blob.

doodles composite levels judywatson lores

I found a few dogs who weren’t pleased with either their hairstyles or with each other. And one that has slipped on a banana skin.

wolfhound x poodle - whoodle judywatsonart lores

Whoodle (poodle x wolfhound)

beehive dog judywatsonart lores

Beehive Hound

bouffant dog judywatsonart lores

Bouffant des Flandres

bulldog judywatsonart lores

Bulldog

cranky dog judywatsonart lores

Bulldog’s buddy

wiry dog judywatsonart lores

Schnighlander – (Giant Schnauzer x West Highland White Terrier)

oops

oops

I found an overexcited squirrel.

Didn't quite work

Didn’t quite work

I found a princess escaping a fate worse than death, cloaked and riding on the back of a miniature elephant in the dead of night. (with faithful wire-haired miniature dachshund x schipperke – also known as a Whipperke-Dipperke)

princess on tiny elephant judywatsonart lores

I found a very surprised budgie on the head of a cranky sheep.

surprised budgie

surprised budgie

I found a frisbee catching dog who needs to see an orthopaedic surgeon about his front legs.

This will not end well

This will not end well

I found a pug in a bad mood. I think he’s trying to tell me something.

grrrr

grrrr

And I found a range of the usual birds and monstrosities.

rabbit-elephant judywatsonart lores

What the? Elephant x rabbit…

deer thing judywatsonart lores

So normal! What are you doing here?

bird of woe judywatsonart lores

Bird of Woe

bad tempered chick judywatsonart lores

This is the unmentioned chick from  ‘Owl Babies’   (‘I Want My Mummy… NOW!!!’)

goosy dodo bird judywatsonart lores goosey bird judywatsonart lores

And I found an overweight chick eating play lunch in the school yard.

munch, munch

munch, munch…. munch.

That reminds me, it’s lunch time.

I’ll add colour to some of these when I get a chance.

 

 

 

Blue Cornish Shadow Dance – a work in progress

blue tabby Cornish shadow dance

Thunderstorm inking is in progress this afternoon. I stopped to paint a cat on a discarded piece of paper (a piece of paper with two eyes cut out of it for Greyfur the puppet and a great deal of splodgy ink). This is actually a glorified-blob drawing. The blob suggested the Cornish Rex, and then I finished it off and put some shadow play in the background, experimenting with tone and shape in the way that I want to much more in the future.  The Greyfur eye holes (bottom right) can be seen but have been filled in with a collaged piece of watercolour paper behind.

But here’s the thing. The original hard copy looks like this (below).

Cornish shadow dance original in progress Judywatsonart lores

I’m reasonably pleased with this picture as a start. But it needs more tonal contrast and more definition in some areas I think. I shaded those blue areas over the top of this image in PhotoShop, almost without thinking, because I’m using PhotoShop so much to edit and enhance illustration work at the moment. I wanted to see what would happen if I added a further layer of colour and shape.

Now I can go back and add this over the real image if I want to. Or in a different colour and pattern. It’s a handy experiment that I hadn’t thought of before that might be quite helpful with my painting practice sometimes.