Weaselly Wolves – painted in 2013 for ‘One Word One Day’
Finding myself trying to make Greyfur too anatomically kangarooish was making my puppeting challenge hard. Indeed, my son asked me if the incomplete Greyfur face was a dog or a deer.
Other subjects I’d earlier considered making for the Puppet Challenge had included the following. All have been covered by other puppet challengers as it turns out.
The Big Bad Wolf
The Big Bad Wolf is a favourite topic of mine, as I’ve been a fan of Angela Carter’s writing for many years, but he’s not a local myth like Greyfur. I also find wolves pretty easy to draw because along with their doggishness is the fact that the BBW is now such an icon, that he is recognisable in any kind of shorthand format and is way above any kind of need for anatomical realism.
Wolfish types (above), bearing little resemblance to Canis Lupus.
Puss in Boots
Puss is also not a local tradition. Angela Carter does a fabulous rendition of this fairy tale too. And as I seem to be obsessed with Cornish Rex cats at the moment, my Puss in Boots sketches were distinctly Cornish in flavour; black, big-eyed, big-eared, narrow-framed.
This one was for the 52-week Illustration challenge, but I was thinking about Puss in Boots for the puppet challenge at the time.
first sketch, always too naturalistic, but he almost captures the devil-may-care nonchalant cat personality I was going for.
shadow puppet perhaps? I liked the idea of the sail-like ears being semi-transparent and the rest being solid black card.
a further attempt to get whole figure on the page!
marionette? With Yarn body and wooden boots?
black yarn knitted or crocheted body?
Back to the shadow puppet idea. I drew the shadow puppet ogre and the mouse that he turns into, foolish fellow. I also drew the king and had a couple of goes at the lad.
Troll with Billy Goats Gruff
We live by a creek with a bridge so this had some local relevance. And this was the first one that I considered using the crumpled paper for. I had it in my mind that the curling horns of the goats would look great if made out of crumpled and twisted paper. And I was intrigued about the challenge of making three goat characters and capturing the varying ages and personalities of the three (a theme I had a lot of fun with in The Middle Sheep by Frances Watts.)
Three goat siblings I drew for ‘The Middle Sheep’ by Frances Watts
I seem to have misplaced my puppet goat sketches. They’ll turn up somewhere unlikely one day…
Greyfur the Kangaroo
A couple more sketches I found while I was looking for the goats!
So anyway… I went back to the wolves in the picture at the top of this post! These two rather weaselly looking wolves are plotting mischief together. Below are some photos of the fun and messy creative process the other night on my kitchen floor. The boys were having a fantastic time for much of the evening, playing with a sack full of puppets that I had tipped out onto the floor. Puppets really do inspire all sorts of creative play.
Two (Big, Bad) Wolf Brothers
one weaselly nose and some fingers with claws drying in front of the fan heater
three toes before strapping together to make a hand. I was careful this time to make the outside and inside fingers the right length.
strapping together to make a hand
adding a thumb
two hands, one with a wrist
two hands with wrists
positioning some eyeballs!
adding eyelids (with rough dots for pupils)
time for some teeth after the lower jaw added
I wanted the teeth to be very crooked and uneven
both with eyes and with ears under way
All ears connected. The Brains (left) has narrower eyes to make him look more sly. Brawn will have the lolling tongue.
Indian ink on crumpled paper. A very satisfying process
Black paint on. I may add more later.
This guy is just asking for a tongue now.
tongue ready to attach. Teeth and eyes with some white added. Brains will have moving hands. Brawn will have a moving mouth. (This is probably rather counter-intuitive but there ya go!)
with tongue, painted mouth, bloodshot eyes and Granny’s bonnet.
Would you buy a used car from these two?
This is where I had to stop. If I have time Brawn (Actually, I think his name is Willy) will get a nightdress slightly stained with blood on the front, and lacy sleeves from which will protrude his long, black claws over the bed clothes.
Brains (Hmmm… Ernest, perhaps, because he’s anything but earnest) will have working arms, but I’m not really happy with the high attachment I’ve started here. I think he’d be more impressive without such a distorted scale. I might give him long arms and move them with rods instead so that they can creep in from the side in a lurking sort of way. I think these two should look rather long and rangy like their original drawing, rather than dwarfed versions of themselves.
I’d love to add whiskers, but not sure where to get those twirly feathers from that people use on puppets. I could modify some of my chickens’ feathers I guess… But I’ll have to leave these rascals for now.