Tag Archives: Thunderstorm Dancing

Thunderstorm Dancing – nearly a book

Thunderstorm Dancing cover lores

 

Here it is! the finished cover and what you will see in the shops from next April. Currently it is away being made into a book, with paper and ink and all that stuff we like.

As with childbirth… all the grunting and groaning is fading away, and soon I won’t remember that it was difficult at all :-)

 

 

Catching up

Hello! I’ve been a bit absent! Thunder is finished and off to the printers! I’m looking forward to seeing an advance copy in early January. It’s taken a few weeks to just get myself into drawing again. That’s not something I anticipated. And there are a lot of other things that I need to catch up with now that I’ve finished that mammoth project… including Christmas!

I had a great day with Ann James and Justine Alltimes last Monday, designing a poster for Jackie French, our Australian Children’s Laureate. Her project Share a Story will revolve around the ideas on the poster/calendar which will be available for free download by Christmas.

Ann James is a well known and skilled Australian children’s illustrator. Justine Alltimes is one of the hardworking and capable Laureate Project Managers. When the three of us get together, the ideas ping about like pinballs. After Ann had drawn and painted some images, I was able to alter them digitally to make new, and hopefully intriguing combinations, that will work well together on the poster and spark the storytelling imaginations of children, teachers and parents. The challenge was to avoid the literal interpretations of words like Slurp a Story and instead to come up with images that were open-ended or suggestive. We want starting points for stories, not stories in themselves.

More on Share a Story when the poster is released.

Other work in progress includes an illustration of Phar Lap for the front cover of a colouring book for the Melbourne Museum to match the dinosaur one I did a couple of years ago. As always with work done for Museum Victoria, I learn heaps along the way as I research the topic! Glad to find out that Phar Lap was probably not deliberately or even accidentally poisoned. Not that it made much difference to the poor horse, but he most likely died of colic related to a rare disease of the intestinal tract.

MMDinoColBk_FRONT.jpg

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge forges on towards the finish, but will return next year. I wasn’t feeling like drawing for this either, for a couple of weeks. So I’ve missed Week 47 New York, but I may go back to that. Although drawing New York itself holds little attraction for me, the New Yorker and its famous cartoons hold enormous appeal for me. So I think I need to do a New Yorker style cartoon. But of what?…

Tim and Tig New Yorker

A page from ‘Tim and Tig’

Above is an illustration I did for Aussie Nibble – Tim & Tig many years ago. I illustrated Tim and Tig just after receiving a copy of the Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker; a fantastic book that had a powerful influence on my drawing! Many of the illos in Tim and Tig, I’d wish to do again and much better, but this one I still like.

Now that I think of it, I did do some quick doodles for Week 46 Circus. (Oh dear. What a rambling post.)

The Twisted Princess tidies her tresses

The Twisted Princess tidies her tresses

This doodle was on the bottom of a Thunder illustration. You may see a wee peek of the washy water top right, and it ran completely off the page. It started as a doodle and then I got mesmerised by the leotard pattern. Actually, this led my mind off in the direction of a series of paintings I’d like to do…

This brings me to last week’s theme. Week 48 Fox. In a shocking twist of fate, I found that the topic had long ago been changed from Chicken to Fox! Horrors!

I did some fox doodles while I was waiting for the kids to get out of drama class and below you can see them.

Deadly Maggie

Deadly Maggie

This was a fennec sketch in an old book. I added some digital colour experimentally (even though fennecs are creamy in colour). It’s not entirely successful but there are elements of it that I like, including the scratching into top layers of colour; a Thunder habit that may continue for some time. Perhaps lead into interesting new areas.

fox cub judywatsonart lores

A very innocent young blob fox.

By contrast, this little blob fox is not deadly. This was my protest on behalf of my chickens.

Contortionist fox

Contortionist fox

I liked the tail hatching on this one, and also the two tone retro feel, but it was certainly rushed. Not what you’d call finished work.

The Fox with the No.6 Tattoo

The Fox with the No.6 Tattoo

Lastly, this fellow. The fox with the No. 6 Tattoo. I liked his eyes and expression. He seems to have a canny and sophisticated air about him. I added some very flat colour panels in Photoshop trying to keep it sympathetic to his stylised and simple form and I like the result.

 

 

 

Swirling and Swinging

P24 Lachie judywatsonart lores

This afternoon I finished the second last illustration for Thunderstorm Dancing, which I should add is yet to be approved as the editor is not in the office today.

All being well, I’m now working on the last illustration for the book. I can hardly believe it. Wish me luck!

scribble cornish judywatsonart lores

This is not from Thunderstorm Dancing. This is a scribble-of-joy.

Okay… so this Scribble Cornish may exhibit some slight exaggerations of conformation… but the rest is true :-)

 

Cornish Cat working on the weekend :)

profile alice cat judywatsonart loresPhew! That’s half the spread fixed.

I spent a day on Thursday working on this page, and was really unhappy with the results at the end of the day, so it was back to the drawing board and a re-work of this character group. It might not have mattered so much if it were a busy page. But this is a section of the still page. It has to be right…

err… now I’m looking and finding a few things I might tweak… But not today. Time to spend time with my boys.

So the page 25 Cat-Called-Thunder and Alice are working to my satisfaction. I’ve just got to finish off the seven other members of the family! (laughs hysterically)

 

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!

Pinterest

A few days ago I got around to joining Pinterest and have started to organise some of my work into boards. It is really quite a useful thing to be able to view a set of work at a glance. I’ve put some Thunderstorm Dancing fragments and working sketches on there too. Nice to bring it together and see what changes have occurred over 2 years!

Here I am if you want to visit me.

pinterest Thunder sample

My altered Book art is there too. But there’s a lot in my cupboard! Only some of it is on Pinterest. I’ll update it over time.

Judywatson Altered Book Art Pinterest sample

Putting Thunder Cats into Perspective

cat sketches for veranda spread lores redHere’s a little peep into the book illustration process for Thunderstorm Dancing as roughs are edited on the fly while final art is being produced. For this spread, the Cat Called Thunder, needed to be inserted into the veranda scene, and I played around with various poses and movements until I found one that had the right character and jaunty expression.

…I realise Cornish Rex cats are not really characterised by jauntiness in the face of a thunderstorm. But this particular one is a Picture-Book-Cornish-Rex. And they are a specialised breed.

The problem was that the little fellow I liked is in full profile, and the illustration required him to be viewed partly from above. This can be a tricky adjustment to make (especially with drawings of people). But I usually give it a whirl by dotting in some rough suggestions of where the skeleton and joints might be, and take it from there. It puts the character into a three dimensional space in my mind.

My improvised sketch to alter the viewer's angle of Thunder and my guesses at the location of the joints. I was wrong about the shoulder as I found out later.

My improvised sketch to alter the viewer’s angle of the Cat Called Thunder and my guesses at the location of the joints. I was wrong about the shoulder as I found out later.

Here’s what I came up with to shift the view point. And I was happy enough with that to move on to inking stage, and to add in any further detail during inking.

A cat skeleton showing the position of the shoulder joint at the front of the cat, rather than up around the area we would call the 'withers' in a horse.

A cat skeleton showing the position of the shoulder joint at the front of the cat, rather than up around the area we would call the ‘withers’ in a horse.

Looking at the skeleton above you will see that my shoulder joints were in the wrong spot, but as it happens it didn’t really affect the drawing. My made-up shoulders took a shortcut from the top of the scapula through to the elbow joint, skipping the humerus. (Very efficient, methinks;-)

The Cat Called Thunder struts across the decking as the storm approaches.

The Cat Called Thunder trots across the decking as the storm approaches.

Here’s the Cat Called Thunder redrawn in ink and in position against the un-inked veranda. I think he’s sufficiently jaunty for the most demanding of viewers, despite his overbite which would make orthodontists blanch.

Brian the greyhound with an overbite

Brian, the greyhound with an overbite

Here’s Brian with a similar jaw. I think the overbite gives these two a bit of an ‘oops’ expression.