Tag Archives: Australian illustrators

Book Signing Phobia

Here’s a lesser known part of the job of being a drawing machine. When we sign books for people, it  is a nice thing for them if the signature comes with a little doodle, drawn for them, right before their very own eyes. And it’s nice to be able to do that for them. It makes us happy too. If it works.

But the inscription is done in pen and can’t be rubbed out or corrected.

And when we draw during the usual course of our day, we usually do many drafts of any illustration before we get it right.

And if we mess up our inscription doodle we have the problem of either sending a deplorable doodle out into the world defacing the otherwise pristine title page of a newly purchased book, or replacing the book with a new one… which we might also mess up.

Now remember that some of us are very temperamental drawing machines, the kind whose engines won’t start unless the key is turned in just the right particular way, may never run very well on a Tuesday, and if the oil runs low we are likely to smoke. You will now realise that the aforementioned anxieties at the back of our minds can cause a little fumble in the fingers; a wobble in the wrist; a twitch in the felt-tip… and then…

Doom!

That is why I am practising my book signatures today.

With Best Fishes

With Best Fishes – practising my book signing today and this is page four. Ahem. 

I have spoken to illustrators who say they won’t do it any more. They will write anything but won’t draw. (And I’m not even going to discuss the issue of spelling difficult names correctly… or easy names for that matter.)

I have spoken to illustrators who say ‘it’s important to make the mark.’

I have watched with awe, some illustrators who sign and doodle with ease.

I have watched with awe, one illustrator who was CLEVER enough to get a rubber stamp made up in advance! (Yes, OtherJude, that was very clever!)

And I have used my bookmark giveaways to circumvent this problem with some success. (It’s much less stressful to draw on a bookmark, than a $25 book.)

photo 1

Anyway, see you at the next book signing!

I’m ready.

I think.

Enjoy your bookmark!

Enjoy your bookmark!

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.

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Australian Children’s Laureate Celebration – silent auction catalogue now up!

Click to see the full list of fantastic items up for grabs.

 

Dick Russell and Porky Simpkin

This set of four pages will be up for silent auction at the Australian Children’s Laureate Fundraiser.  Consider buying a ticket to what will be a fabulous night of fun with the Australian children’s publishing community and grab a one of a kind gem from the selection of silent auction items. (Soon to be uploaded to the Laureate Website.)

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Dick Russell Grinned

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Three Tasks for Dick and Porky

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A Bone of Contention

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A Little Unreal

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Set of Four pages

sold

Nicki Greenberg and other comics stars

NICKI GREENBERG

Nicki Greenberg web banner

This is Nicki’s gorgeous new web site, which shows off her breadth of work. Her graphic novels and comics work are particularly strong. I just love this piece Comic Fatigue. (Postmodern or just Loony Tunes madness? …Or was Loony Tunes a form of postmodernism?) And I really, really loved her graphic novels The Great Gatsby and Hamlet.

Hamlet

I’m often drawn to the idea of doing a graphic novel… but then I look again and imagine drawing all those pages, doing all that very difficult composition and hardest of all CHARACTER CONTINUITY x one billion! …And then I change my mind. Hats off to all you amazing graphic novelists. You are awe inspiring.

While I’m on the subject, if any of you out there are crazy enough… Oops, I mean spirited and passionate and motivated enough to want to launch into comics, I can highly recommend Scott McCloud‘s books Understanding Comics and Making Comics as a brilliant starting point.

For further inspiration on art, writing, comics and perhaps life… try reading What it is, by Lynda Barry.

What it is

Hello From Australia - Australian illustrators exhibited in Korea

This is an article from the Korea JoongAng Daily, about a triple faceted exhibition ‘Faces of Australia’ at the Korea Foundation Cultural Centre Gallery until 7 March. It features the photographic works of Lee Kyung-wook; a range of books and prints by Australian illustrators, and showcases the work of Shaun Tan. Ann James, wearing a sling because she broke her wrist on the ice shortly after her arrival in Korea, talks about the exhibition. My mice from ‘Goodnight, Mice!’ are bedding down for the night at the top, just over Ann’s glorious ‘It’s a Miroocool’ dust cloud. I hope they don’t get dust in their whiskers.
Many thanks to Ann Haddon and Ann James for once again showcasing Australia’s illustrators overseas. You can see more photos from their trip and this exhibition at the Books Illustrated blog, listed on this page.