Tag Archives: ink

Leonard dances on (part 2)

Having had a lot of fun with my digital collage and brushwork, I picked up the dip pen and filled my inkwell once more to explore Option One.

pen and ink crooner judywatsonart

Dip pen and ink with real wash. 

Having fuddled around with birds for some weeks, I felt warmed up. My drawing hand was in action again. I was feeling a bit racy. The big brushy birds were fairly cumbersome in terms of getting the dance action going, and I wanted to see how these birds might actually look dancing; particularly in pairs or groups.

So here’s where my trusty dip pen came in. I used the same one for the whole of Thunderstorm Dancing and I’m not sure what I’ll do when this particular ratty nib gives up the ghost. It’s pointy and twitchy and zippy and once the pen hand is warmed up, the quicker the drawing, the better.

In my first sketches, I referred to pictures of people dancing. The birds looked rather hilariously like people in bird costumes.

pen and ink crazy peoplebirds lores

pen and ink ridiculous birds

Seriously, what???!! Must be stuffy in those bird costumes…

pen and ink person to bird lores

Here you see me trying to figure out how to turn a human dance pose into the equivalent bird pose. Doesn’t work. The bird’s leg joints are so different that when forced into a corresponding pose, they become stiff and awkward. 

pen and ink john travolta lores

John Travolta? 

They were terrible. After that I put Fred and Ginger aside. Phooey! Better to just look at birds and make their gestures approximately dancelike. Despite my lack of dance expertise, I could put more of an expressive spin on a bird drawing without scrutinising a real dance move.

Then it became more fun. These birds were attending an imaginary ball. I gave them names. Just because.

pen and ink tiara

Spotted at the ball this evening – Miss Ophelia Oriole in yellow cape and tiara.

pen and ink orange pair

Melva and Gene Shufflebottom set the dance floor on fire this evening. Luckily, no one was hurt. (That’s from Thomas the Tank Engine. Some of you will recognise it.)

pen and ink blue green pair judywatsonart

Sparking rumours this evening at the ball, Adele Coiffe and Thomas Furle were inseparable on the dance floor. 

pen and ink cindermallard

A Mysterious Mallard wowed the guests at this evening’s festivities, but departed hurriedly at midnight, leaving behind a puddle of water. 

pen and ink crooner judywatsonart

A starling vocal performance was given this evening by Steve Brash, with backing vocals by the Fluffies. (not shown.)

Lastly, I spend about 40 minutes whipping up a page spread in this style to see how I’d go with drawing a crowd. It wasn’t so great, but it was good enough to act as a sample for discussions with the editorial team at Harper Collins.

pen and ink rough spread judywatsonart lores.jpg

This sketch is coloured digitally, so that I could get a quick idea of how it might look. It’s very rough, and fairly energetic. I like the energy. It reminded me of a picture I’d done for the Ernie and Maud series years ago. Particularly the duck in the middle, waving to a friend. (There was an excellent hot air ballooning duck in that story.)

Greatest Sheep in History judywatsonart lores

 

I’ll be interested to hear what treatment you would have chosen. But I have to say voting has closed and the team at Harper Collins voted unanimously for….

drum roll…

BRUSHY!

brushy green bird

Let the games begin!

pen and ink rats lores

Was it the shoes? Too much?

Leonard dances on

Well, enough of that frivolous sewerage stuff for now. Time to get back to Leonard because I’ve got some roughs to complete! (Sorry to those who were enjoying  my inexpert comics doodles. I’ll try to fill you in on the end of the story at some stage. Evil snigger.)

woodpecker colour flat

Option B. Read on…

Now where did we leave off? I think I was drawing finches in all sorts of styles.

After that, I drew a few more birds of other kinds… That’s rather offhand, isn’t it? I’m skipping over about 16 species without even excusing myself…

And then I spent a day or so researching and downloading images of various dances. I am much more familiar with birds than I am with dances. Seriously, you should see me try to dance. But what a great excuse to get a book about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers out of the library.

Then I spent a day drawing birds dancing, putting it together. And all the while my days and nights were filled with mullings and musings about medium. That’s just too much, right?

I am a person who could spend a long time making up my mind. So I wrote this shortlist.

shortlist worksheet

There was a third option but since it had a difficulty rating of 5/5 it soon dropped off. 

The fabulousness ratings are important for me because I don’t feel there’s any point in making a picture book if I don’t at least attempt to make it fabulous. But they’re hypothetical, and of course totally subjective.

So. Being me, I started with Option Two. 

Brush and wash with digital blocks of colour. 

I have to thank Clive Hicks-Jenkins for accidentally reminding me of the brush and wash option. He posted my bookplate blog post on his FaceBook page. And when I looked at the bookplate again, I remembered how much I had enjoyed painting that chicken with brush and ink and how the digital editing changed it into something I rather liked, with very simple blocks of flat colour over the painted image. It was easy to do and retained the painterly look, which many digital treatments do not. But it wasn’t something I had considered as a treatment for Leonard.

sepia chicken judywatsonart lores

This particular image would be rather dark and heavy in a picture book. But it’s really just the background that makes it heavy. With a different background treatment and a lot of white space, it could work. I had a vision with lots of white space but with some painted plants strategically placed, in paler tones than those of the birds.

With the chicken bookplate, I converted the original art to a sepia colour; still very inky looking. But I could make the brushwork any colour that harmonises with the overlaid colour blocks. Indeed each bird need not be treated the same way.

I made some quick mock-ups.

finch flap lores

unhappy secretary bird photo

brushy sketch

unhappy secretary bird test

brushy sketch with flat colour

 

several finches with flattened background 2 col copy

a digital collage with brushy finches, a woodpecker and digitally applied colour wash

These brushy bird paintings were large. Nearly A4 size for each individual bird, so I wondered if I might be able to work at a smaller scale using a pencil for details like eyes. And made this quick  sample. I think I prefer the brush alone, but it will depend how practical this giant size proves, when working on entire page compositions.

bluebird test judywatsonart

brush and pencil bluebird with digitally applied colour wash

And I made a few brushy background vegetation sketches. I could have a lot of fun with these, adding some colour and layering. We could go a little 1970s…

feathery tester loresfruity tester loresginkoish tester loresgrassy tester lores

flower tester levels loresjointed flower tester levels

I think that will have to do for tonight. Option One tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midsummer Monotypes

IMG_7310

Bonneted girl in too many frills. (From a vintage cabinet card portrait photo)

Over the summer school holidays, I had the pleasure of pulling out all the monotype equipment, unused for many months, and taking it for an outing to the back garden of the new house. There is a space under the decking that’s perfect for fine weather art activities. The boys and I set up two trestle tables there and had a lovely afternoon of printing in the warm air.

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While the boys printed an assortment of monsters, animals and fancy lettering (most of which they remembered to reverse as they drew), I printed chickens, dogs and portraits of them drawing. They were mostly autonomous because they had printed before and are old enough to manage on their own, but my focus was divided between my own drawings and theirs, so I came back a few days later and had another go on my own.

Author Ann Martin had kindly posted me her collection of cabinet card photos after my last post on vintage clothing (here) and I decided to use these as the basis for my monotypes. I had also been admiring one of my favourite books Detour Art.

I LOVE that book, (one of my favourite Christmas presents ever!) and browsing through it again led me to look up and explore further the work of Thornton Dial Sr. who died only last month. You can see the video A Day With Thornton Dial Sr. here. 

Thornton Dial Senior

Thornton Dial’s work ranges between sculpture using found objects through to several dynamic painting styles. One of his loose drawing styles made me itch to print some monotypes and add either dry pastel or watercolour to them. I love the way his rapid line work dances with the limited colours he adds.

Below are some of Thornton Dial’s works that make my heart race!

As you will see, my own work is nothing like his whatsoever. As with most artistic adventures, the artwork takes on a life of its own, and mine were no exception. They were mostly drawn using a continuous single line, using a heavy crayon pressed firmly on the back of the paper. I was seeking a heavy line with bleed but also a loose line, and was mostly successful in this.

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Bearded man – first take. The original did not look as heavy as this darkened photo and I increased the pressure when drawing the subsequent images.

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Bearded man – second take. (These were drawn from the same photo, so you can see that I was not attempting to achieve a likeness.) This is the image that I was most pleased with. I have an irresistible urge to add an off yellow background and pink to his tie, so he may yet be ruined, but I have taken the precaution this morning of gluing him to a cardboard backing in order to prevent buckling when I take paint to him.

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This chap had a rather ridiculous face in the original photo. And my rendition made him possibly more ridiculous. But he does rather remind me of an idiotic version of Jude Law. (sorry Jude Law.)

After completing a few other prints, including the frilly little lass at the top of the post, I brought the prints indoors to dry so that I could add colour. I started with the first bearded man, because the outline was too weak to stand alone and I thought that by adding colour I’d either ruin it (and not mind) or redeem it.

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Actually, I did neither.

The paper buckled a little but not too much as it is a heavy weight paper. I solidified some of the outlines and I had an absolute ball throwing the colour on. But I’m not overly excited about him. And I didn’t leave enough white space for him to breathe. He may have been better on a white background.

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I then added colour to clown-like ‘Jude Law’. By golly it was fun to slosh the paint on a large piece of paper! I stopped after that. The girl would not benefit from colour and the other bearded man, being my favourite, deserved some thought and a backing board before proceeding, if at all.

I’ve now done the backing board, and I must decide his fate!

 

Old World Monsters

I went away with some good friends in the September holidays for a long weekend, and began a range of art and craft projects which I promised to post here. I’ve been too busy until now to look at them further but now it’s Christmas holiday time, and I had a great time the other day, getting things out to play with in the studio! Hooray!

As part of my continuing fascination with vintage cabinet card portraits, I had drawn at  some children from old photos and added shadowy blob shapes of old world beasts and imaginary creatures into their formal poses. I hadn’t by any means fully thought out the ideas I was exploring, and I still haven’t. But I added some watercolour detail with a fine brush the other day and scanned them. So here they are.

I will probably do some more with this, and see where it goes. I think monsters take time to form properly. These are only partly menacing, and it’s unclear whether the children are aware of them or not. They may be allies, or the monsters may even be generated by the children themselves.

old world new world wolf boy JudyWatsonArt

old world new world hat JudyWatsonArtold world new world bench beast JudyWatsonArtold world new world chair and hat JudyWatsonArt

Leonard’s Friends

Leonard 6

As some will know, my current book project is a picture book by Frances Watts to be published next year by HarperCollins. Leonard Doesn’t Dance is the title, and it will feature a cast of feathered friends of many species.

Leonard and his friends have been forming on the page but I’ve yet to definitely decide on the medium that will best suit the book. As a way of exploring options, I’ve begun getting to know this list of species.

Magpies
Ducks
Pigeons / Doves
Rosellas
Galahs
Woodpeckers
Flamingos
Swans
Chickens
Turkeys
Quails
Bluebirds
Finches
Penguins
Puffins

First on the list, penguins. (Yes, I’m not even reliably back-to-front.)

Penguins come in several shapes and sizes and are attired in formal to smart casual. Their posture is generally upright, and they are fond of water sports. Some are tall and imposing. Some are small and wiry. Some are round, cuddly and ridiculously cute. Possibly too cute. (What kind of a kill-joy book illustrator am I? Too cute?)

penguin very first pencil sketch

A warm-up penguin. I liked to think I was channelling William Kentridge with my deft use of the eraser… but really, this is just a warm-up penguin. My eraser was employed in deftless ways.

penguin pencil and wash early 1

A second warm-up penguin. Sometimes the warm-up process temporarily takes one backwards.  (Watercolour and brush on smooth watercolour paper.)

the rather dull small fluffy penguin

See what I mean? (Noodler’s ink, watercolour and gouache on watercolour paper.)

the rather dull penguin

A half-warmed up penguin, using a soft pencil and watercolour. I need to bond with penguin feet. They are thick and sturdy and look like lumps of pink putty. These are not right. But I like the head.

penguin pencil and wash later

A tighter line. Testing the look of a more stylised shape. This penguin is quite athletic. I didn’t  realise that some penguins have rather long legs. Even if much of the leg appears to be inside their body. Rather like walking around inside a large pillowcase with your toes in the corners… Or not. I do like the watercolour over the textured pencil.

tighter penguin

A tighter outline again with an exaggerated shape. But still with a loose hatching technique. I don’t do tidy hatching. I associate it with things like ironing shirts. A useful skill that I don’t have the patience for.

penguin pencil sketch

Looser? Almost the same head. But loose and with added dance steps.

twin penguins

Looser with ink. I think this is a combination of the last two. Or three.

A question arising is the ink. This ink is water soluble. I often enjoy this, because it’s rather scrumptious to see the line dissolve under the watercolour brush to do unexpected things. I mostly like unexpected things. But would I like unexpected things to happen on my final artwork? Maybe not.

Also, it’s hard to lay clean colour over dissolving black ink. I will want some of my colours to be clean. I will have a try with water-fast ink later. But there are other ways around this. I could do the black part with water soluble ink and print out the illustrations onto fresh watercolour paper before adding colour. But all this can get rather complicated and size can become a limitation. There is much to ponder over the next few weeks.

I will share some finches with you soon.

 

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.

endpapers instead of Endpapers

I’m working flat out to finish Thunderstorm Dancing before the end of the month, so I haven’t much time to post here. Nor is there much to post, because the illos for the book are under wraps until publication… apart from small snippets.

Yesterday I finished the endpapers for the back of the book. Today I’ll hopefully finish the front endpapers. I suppose it could be okay to post a bit of an endpaper on Endpapers.

Here’s part of the back endpapers.

Cornish Cat called Thunder

Cornish Cat called Thunder with seagulls and afternoon tea

And here’s my very hurried 52 Week Illustration Challenge contribution for this week (Under the Sea) which I made with some leftover fish bones drawn for Thunder endpapers. I’m sure leftover fish bones are an under-utilised art material…

This didn’t really work, because I was hurrying so much. Having said that, the imperfect, rough edges on everything are deliberate. I like the rough prickliness of the pasted fish and seaweed drawings, which gives them a fossilised or desiccated look.

Halloween Under the Sea

Halloween Under the Sea

Both of these works are made using drawings done with Prismacolour Artstick, scanned and coloured in PhotoShop, on top of watercolour and ink background washes.

Oh, and lastly, just this little fragment from one of my illustrations for the book. (The lightning page.) I love the close-up sections of some pages, with none of the action or figures present, making them abstract. This one reminds me of the skin of a whale swimming deep underwater. I feel I should paint a whale eye and put it in one corner. Perhaps later, when all is done.

Thunder lightning sky fragment

Thunder lightning sky fragment