Category Archives: dogs

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.

Department of Education and Training early learning wall friezes

To prove I’m still here, I’m popping up some single illustrations done for the Department of Education and Training this year. The brief read thus:

The purpose of the four wall friezes is to encourage families to engage in learning activities with their child everyday. On each frieze there will be eight panels – a cover and a panel for each day of the week, with a different illustration of a family member(s) and a child/children engaged in a learning activity related to the theme. For example:

    • Music: dancing/singing, etc.
    • Science: cooking/exploring nature, etc.
    • Maths/numeracy: counting/measuring/block building/puzzles, etc.
    • Imaginative play: dress ups/cubby houses/pretend play/creative play spaces, etc.

The DET are happy for me to post fragments of the artwork I did for them, and you will hopefully come across the full design somewhere; perhaps in your local library.

Not surprisingly there was a dog or a chicken in each illustration… Oh actually, I couldn’t find a hygienic way to get a dog or a chicken onto the kitchen bench for the Maths illustration. Rats.

(…There were no rats in the kitchen either.)

kids play music JudyWatsonArt

A fragment: Music

Tommy from Thunderstorm Dancing enjoyed a new incarnation here. So did some of the other characters.

little spaniel from Imaginative play JudyWatsonArt

A (small) fragment: Imaginative play.

There’s that spaniel again. She keeps popping up.

my boys do cooking Maths JudyWatsonArt

A fragment: maths

My 12 year old got morphed into a 15 year old for this illustration. That was fun. I morphed him back again later. I’m not ready for a 15 year old.

Geeky little girl enjoys science with chicken friend

A fragment: science

Geeky girl gardener enjoys some science play. I like a geeky girl and I like her taste in chickens.

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.

Federation Square drawing and chatting tomorrow (13th June)

I might see you at Federation Square, if you are Melbourne based. Please say hi, if you are in the area. I’d love to see you.

I’m bringing a small number of limited edition prints to sell at the book stall along with signed books.

Below are some prints from the actual book, that will be for sale. And following them you’ll see some altered book prints which show the inspiration for the medium that was used in the book. But they also show the difference between the artificially created cream and the natural vintage book parchment.

My chance to sing lores JudyWatsonArt Ready Set Go lores JudyWatsonArt Thunder imprint page boat lores JudyWatsonArt Thunder opening spread seascape lores JudyWatsonArt

The parchment is naturally a much dirtier colour… which appeals to my inky nature, but the Allen & Unwin book designer Sandra Nobes very rightly recommended a clean cream for the book itself, and this is where PhotoShop was my ally. Thanks Sandra and PhotoShop.

tabby kitten lores JudyWatsonArt Cornish library tick cat lores JudyWatsonArt

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.

 

Leonard Doesn’t Dance and Trudy loves Dodds.

I’m excited to have two new projects to work on over the summer. One is another picture book with Frances Watts called Leonard Doesn’t Dance. The other is the beginnings of my own picture book with the working title Trudy and Dodds.

I’ll be posting here about both of them as I go along. Leonard will be about birds… something I shouldn’t have too much trouble loving! I’ve posted a couple of very early ideas about Leonard already. And you can follow the images alone if you want on my Pinterest page here. The more wordy stuff will be on my blog. (…rambling, rambling…)

Leonard Doesn't Dance

Trudy and Dodds was a concept I had just come up with at the time I was offered Thunderstorm Dancing and to my surprise, I received a grant from the Australia Council to get the project started. But I found I could only focus on the one big (Thunder) project, and so Trudy and Dodds was put on hold. Now is the time to revisit it, and I’m really excited to be booked into a masterclass in mid February with editing maestros Jane Godwin (Penguin) and Erica Wagner (Allen & Unwin) along with book design maestro Sandra Nobes. I’ll be taking my dummy book and manuscript along to that masterclass as a part of my grant project to get some feedback and help.

So, in the meantime, on with birds and…. dog-monster-thingees. Probably.

Dogs from the past

Looking at Liz King-Sangster‘s blog the other day, I so enjoyed her lovely paintings of her everyday surroundings. And it reminded me of a time when I used to paint with oils several evenings each week. That was long ago, when I was living in Brixton, London in a shared house, and working in the Aldwych Theatre box office.

During the evenings in the shared flat, comprising two floors above a lawyer’s office (and without a fire escape), wine flowed, cheese was consumed, friends chatted while I painted. Sometimes friends posed for my paintings. Many of those paintings ended up in the skip in the back yard of the rented property, before I caught a plane home to Australia. Some paintings came home by ship, and some went to the people who had posed for portraits.

That habit of painting continued after my return to Australia for a little while. Then work and circumstances called a halt. At the moment, while I am indulged enough by my family to have the largest bedroom of the house as my studio, (we sleep in the smallest bedroom) and there is space enough for computer equipment, drawing board and shelves, there is not room enough to paint at an easel, or even on the floor.

Looking at these two oil sketches of our dog Giddy the Hungarian Vizsla, painted not long after my return to Australia, I notice that it is nearly 20 years since I painted in oils! My goodness, I miss it, despite the fun I have with other media. I remember too, that these were painted after seeing some mid 1990s paintings of dogs done by David Hockney. No, don’t go and compare mine with his! Don’t!

Oh, damn.

You will.

Well, anyway, I loved it that he chose such a domestic subject as a dachshund and honoured it in oils. And I enjoyed capturing our beloved dog in oils in the same way that I had painted my friends in London. Note that the sleeping version is more ‘finished’ and see if you can work out why… Never work with children or animals they used to say in the theatre, but in my experience, they are some of the most rewarding to work with.

Red Giddy

Red Giddy

Blue Giddy

Blue Giddy

These two sketches are painted on wooden trays purloined from the science room of the old Banyule High School which was awaiting demolition at the time that I worked for Greening Australia in a renovated wing. The lip of the trays forms the frame of the paintings; a cheap alternative to proper framing. It’s time I took them to be framed properly. They remind me of the dog and the time.

And it’s also time I found a way to paint again.