Tag Archives: art

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.

The writing/drawing process July 2014

At the start of the school holidays, I was invited by artist Rosalie Street to participate in a blog tour… which means answering some questions (below) and getting some other people to do the same next.

Here is Rosalie’s interview response. A visit to her blog to enjoy her lush canvases and delightful merchandise is well worth your while.

gold leaf by Rosalie Street

Gold Leaf – by Rosalie Street

The blog tour topic is The Writing/ Drawing Process. Since as yet, I have found little time to work on my writing projects and instead have been madly drawing, I’ll answer the questions in the context of my artwork.

The first bit (the questions)

1. What am I working on ?

Thunderstorm Dancing, a picture book by Katrina Germein

At the moment I am in the late stages of final art for a picture book by Katrina Germein to be published by Allen & Unwin. The book is called Thunderstorm Dancing and it has been over two years since I first starting mulling over the project.

As soon as I read the manuscript, I thought it would be both a great text and a very difficult text to illustrate. It has indeed proven difficult for me, but I also realise that I suffered from the internal pressure that comes from winning an award; this will be the first of my work to be published since that award and my inner self told me very sternly that it will have to be good. But I now move towards the completion of the book and I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

An unused sketch for 'Thunderstorm Dancing'

An unused sketch for ‘Thunderstorm Dancing’

There have been many sketches made for this book. A decision on medium was elusive for a while. But it came along in the end, and I’ve really enjoyed the layering and scratching in PhotoShop combined with the earthy texture of the real paint and pencil on Litho paper.

A small fragment of one final illustration from Thunderstorm Dancing

A small fragment of one final illustration from Thunderstorm Dancing

Altered book art

Last year, while struggling to progress with the picture book, I almost accidentally began sketching in old books as a form of relaxation. I say almost accidentally, because I have admired altered book art and found poetry for quite some time, and had always intended to try it. But starting was not a deliberate step into something new. It was a gentle bit of play, while watching my children in their swimming lessons.

drybrush sketches in the bombing zone of the local swimming pool. Ink on vintage book page.

drybrush sketches in the bombing zone of the local swimming pool. Ink on vintage book page.

I began sketching them and other children. And I really loved the effect of the drawn image on the printed page. It also helped me with Thunderstorm Dancing, because I had decided early on that the family in the story would be at a beach house, and the main characters all in swimming cosies.

Altered book art continues to be one of my favourite activities, and I intend to do much more of it, and to explore new ways of using it in art projects.

52 Week Illustration Challenge

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge, dreamed up by Tania McCartney, was something I joined early this year. It requires participants to produce artwork to a given theme that changes each Wednesday, and then post them on the 52 Week Illustration Challenge FaceBook page.

Week 14: simplicity. This was a really enjoyable experiment with ink and watercolour

52 Week Illustration Challenge: Week 14: simplicity.
This was a really enjoyable experiment with ink and watercolour

One of the things I loved about it was that the community of people involved were from varied backgrounds and were supportive and kind to one another. Since early this year the group has grown to over 2000 members, many being expert practising artists and the standard of work has I think, sadly frightened many of the less skilled artists away, but the mood of generosity remains. And it is surprisingly good to have a theme to work to each week… often themes that I find very unappealing until they lead me off into some fun experimentation.

I have deliberately kept this challenge as a low-profile task for myself. I never spend long on anything I do for The Challenge and never worry too much if the work is imperfect or not my best. This, along with blogging imperfect work, has been a really healthy learning experience, and a great way to keep producing lots of other work and exploring as an artist, as well as doing my book project.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Puppet Challenge

This is an on-line exhibition organised and curated by Clive Hick-Jenkins along with Peter Slight. I’ve not done so well with this one. In contrast to the other challenge, I have allowed this to become larger than life and daunting. I also failed to come to a decision over subject and medium, although my lightbulb moment came today in the shower (they often do happen there) when I may be too late to make it. So I’m not sure if that counts as something I’m working on or not…

Appropriately perplexed looking sketch of Greyfur the kangaroo who was my original subject matter for the puppet challenge

Appropriately perplexed looking sketch of Greyfur the kangaroo who was my original subject matter for the puppet challenge

Graphic design work

Periodically I take up graphic design work if it is not too time consuming. I enjoy this work very much, but too often lately I have had to decline offers of work due to the unfinished book and lack of time. Some of my favourite work is with the Australian Children’s Laureate support team who produce various publications and branding items every now and then. In this context I enjoy using other artists’ work and modifying it to use as part of a design. Ann James drew the magpie who became the Australian Children’s Laureate logo and I have used him in lots of ways.

The Australian Children's Laureate logo in one of its formats

The Australian Children’s Laureate logo in one of its formats

School children from around Australia made artwork that I used in silhouette for the pitch for Boori Monty Pryor’s Storykeepers documentary.

storykeeprs sample page storykeeprs sample page2 storykeeprs sample page3

Family life

This project of course doesn’t belong down the bottom here. It’s a very big part of my life – too big to summarise here. So I’ll simply say that I keep myself busy with two much loved youngsters Arthur and Hugo, husband Scott, the dog Dexter and chickens Hilda, Emily, Poppy, Storm, Stella and Vita.

Vita - Queen of the Backyard

Vita – Queen of the Backyard

My own writing projects

This gets a wee mention at the bottom. In fact there are several projects I’m very keen to get on to, that are waiting in line for me to find a bit of space and time. I look forward to launching into them.

2. How does my work differ from others of this genre/ style?

Watch this space

3. Why do I draw/ paint what I do ?

Watch this space too

4. How does my drawing process work ?

Hmmmm…

I have taken waaaay too long answering the first question, so I’m going to split this up and post my answer to the other questions later. Cheerio for now!

A sporting chance…

Cornish Rex character lores grey

Cornish drops in for a birdie, after an afternoon of thrashing about in bunkers.

A friend’s kids have started up a blog about sport. My boys have blogs about art. Not that they chat about it. We just post their own art on it for fun. But thinking of the two different blog subjects got me thinking about sport and art.

Then on the weekend, Dad came home from lawn bowls and told me about how he played. Sometimes he plays well; sometimes less well. And he tries all kinds of different experimental methods seeking that elusive, perfect technique. It was the same when he played golf. The frustration, the elation… the never knowing why or how one day’s performance was better than another. On a rare occasion, he’s ‘in the zone’ and the ball goes wherever he puts it.

Tell me, if you can do that on one occasion, why can’t you always? There’s no doubt that practice makes a big difference to how you perform, but nevertheless not many people can hit a hole in one.

It’s really a lot like art. One big difference is that in sport it’s easier to agree on the score. In art, everyone has a different set of goalposts…

There’s a Ghost of a Chance…

that I might like this book.

You might too. Click to browse through it on Amazon. Feel free to buy it from somewhere else more in need of a dollar… like a local book shop, on-line or otherwise :-)

Image

 

p.s. Thanks to Colossal for the tip off.