Tag Archives: fairy tale

The Kick-About #8 ‘Cicada’ (part one)

Here we go with another Kick-About prompt from Red’s Kingdom. It comes at a good time. I‘ve been working productively during Melbourne’s two lockdowns on my picture book project When You’re Older*. The project has leapt forward dramatically, which is satisfying, but I needed a little break and a breath of creative fresh air. The disconnectedness and anxiety that many of us are feeling as a result of the pandemic and the world news are pretty wearing, even to an introvert like me.

The prompt is Cicada, and those little creatures are old friends at this stage. I spent two weekends working on this prompt. The first one I spent learning some animation techniques, and my original intention was to make an animation by selecting material from Searching for Cicadas**, either working with some of the unused artwork, or developing a page from the book.

This is the page I’d like to animate. I’ll return to this idea at a later point. He’s such a cute little fellow, I’d like to see him walk across his landscape.

But on the second weekend I wandered in a different direction. It began with thinking about cicadas in a less realistic way and thinking about drawing some She Cicadas in the style of my Metropolis Bird Women. Then I thought about the unique, and seemingly magical qualities of a cicada (in particular, its life cycle and metamorphosis) and how easily cicadas might fit into a fairy or folk tale. I haven‘t written anything like that since The Woman, the Chicken and the Grapes. And it seemed the perfect break from intense illustration work.

A frontispiece for a fairytale that isn’t finished yet.

However, I was forgetting my tendency towards perfectionism (strangely combined with a loathing for neatness, exactness or fussiness), and so, Kick-About time is up and the fairy tale is not complete. But never mind! Here are some images I began for it and I’ll work up the text a little more before posting it.

I love these little cicada nymphs. They are so innocent and purposeful. They provide the perfect foil to an arrogant giant python.
I was aware how much my fairy tale was resembling a Red Riding Hood tale. The significance of the snake (instead of a wolf) was pretty obvious, so I popped my little girl into a reddish tint to refer to the original story. And a hood, of course. But I liked her to be visually quite subtle and hard to make out.
The python drawing, became a bit worrisome actually. Although he was just a 5 minute ink drawing, incised with a wooden skewer, he scanned and turned out a bit too ‘realistic’ for my taste, even after I popped some tattoos on him. I prefer the more stylised fellow on the frontispiece. This is a balancing act I regularly struggle with.
Some wash drawings of my little girl. These are each about 12cm high and some have been tidied up a bit; some haven‘t. The little girl at bottom right was not right for this story as she has a vulnerability in her body language and droopy plaits that is not leading lady material. I liked her little legs though. The girl top left, though leaning backwards in a seemingly defensive posture, is nevertheless communicating a wily strength of character. Is she retreating, or is she subtly reaching behind herself for a possible weapon? So she was worked up very lightly for the scene at the top of this post. The girl with the high hood makes me laugh. She is so contemporary looking with her confident, slouching gait. She’s probably wearing headphones and a ponytail.
Two of the sketches for the frontispiece, before I tidied up the one on the right, just a little.

Cheerio for now. Time to get back to the snowy scenes for When You‘re Older.

*When You‘re Older, written by Sofie Laguna, to be published by Allen and Unwin.
** Searching for Cicadas teaching notes here and you can purchase at your local bookshop. If you are in lockdown and need to buy online, in Australia you can find a local bookshop here or check out this page. If you‘re in the USA there‘s this page and it may include other countries too. Let me know.

Puppet Challenge… Weaselly Wolves and other unfinished creations

Weasely Ones

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.

young wolf young wolves 10167981_483105751790707_574541033_n

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.

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.

first sketch, always too naturalistic, but he almost captures the devil-may-care nonchalant cat personality I was going for.

shadow puppet perhaps? I like the idea of the sail-like ears being semi-transparent and the rest being solid black card.

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!

a further attempt to get whole figure on the page!

marionette?

marionette? With Yarn body and wooden boots?

black yarn knitted or crocheted body?

black yarn knitted or crocheted body?

puss in boots 6

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.

puss in boots 7

 

puss in boots 8

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

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!

greyfur study 1lores greyfur study lores

 

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

starting point

starting point

eyeballs

eyeballs

one weaselly nose and some fingers with claws drying in front of the fan heater

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.

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

strapping together to make a hand

adding a thumb

adding a thumb

two hands, one with a wrist

two hands, one with a wrist

two hands with wrists

two hands with wrists

positioning some eyeballs!

positioning some eyeballs!

adding eyelids

adding eyelids (with rough dots for pupils)

time for some teeth after the lower jaw added

time for some teeth after the lower jaw added

teeth side close2

I wanted the teeth to be very crooked and uneven

I wanted the teeth to be very crooked and uneven

both with eyes and with ears under way

both with eyes and with ears under way

All ears connected.

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

Indian ink on crumpled paper. A very satisfying process

Would you buy a used car from these two?

Black paint on. I may add more later.

This guy is just asking for a tongue now.

This guy is just asking for a tongue now.

would you buy a car from these two-2

tongue and teeth with some white added

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.

with tongue, painted mouth, bloodshot eyes and Granny’s bonnet.

Would you buy a used car from these two?

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.

Weasely Ones

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.

 

 

 

 

Puppet Challenge at the Artlog

Puppet Challenge! Hooray!

Clive Hicks-Jenkins' Artlog:

Image

Hello Peter Slight here, curator of the Artlog Puppet exhibition with the details of the challenge!

As Clive mentioned in his introductory post, the theme is ‘Folktales, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends’, a subject close to many of our hearts and hopefully one that will stir some interest and fire imaginations! You can choose a timeless classic, a little known gem or a half-forgotten fable. Inspiration will be the fuel that gets you through this challenge. Just choose whichever story you feel like conjuring up a character for in puppet form.

There’s no restriction on the materials or puppet type, as I would like contributors to be free to express themselves and their ideas in whichever ways they feel are best suited to the task. This challenge can be as simple or complicated as you care to make it. Hopefully we can bounce a few ideas off of each other…

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