Wow. Look! Drawer-ings! Will wonders never cease? I know, I know… it’s been awhile since I posted any of my artwork and even longer since I updated my on-line portfolio (eek… gotta get on that!). Mostly because my plate has been full of design work so far this year. But now most of that is behind me and I’m switching gears again, focusing on illustration. The comic book I started last year for Scouts Canada is on my drawing board again, nearing completion. I’ll be posting lots about that soon.
But even when I’m occupied work-wise with design, I’m drawing all the time. Mostly doodles on Post-its and receipts and the backs of magazines, but sometimes I actually manage to get some into a real honest-to-boots sketchbook. The sketches above are from last month. ‘Course, they weren’t all on one page… I like to draw big and I absolutely abhorr the feeling of my hand falling off the edge of page, so I can rarely fit more than two images on the same page. Which is sad, really, because I love that crammed full look. And I have major moleskine envy, but they just don’t make ‘em big enough for me.
A couple weeks ago as I was doodling while we were watching teevee, Johnny HusbandlyGuy asked me if I know what I’m going to draw before I sit down for one of my sketching sessions and it took me awhile to come up with the answer to that. The answer is yes and no. Most of the time, I think I have a vague idea of something I need to work out creatively. Usually this has to do with perspective or some kind of anatomy issue. For instance, I sometimes have problems visualizing exactly how the head connects to the neck and shoulders, especially in profile or 3/4’s view. And since I rarely use reference when I’m drawing people or animals, this is something I work on quite a bit, consciously or unconsciously. I draw figures in that attitude over and over again, till I have the proportions correct and things fit fairly comfortably. It’s kind of like muscle memory, I guess. I sort of drill myself regularly to overcome certain issues with postures and attitudes and perspective I have, to figure out how it all goes together so that when I have to use those skills in a particular setting, I don’t have to go hunt for photo reference showing that exact position.
But it’s not really a concerted effort, you know? Mostly, it’s just whatever leaks out of my head and out my fingertips. That’s what sketchbooks are for, I think. Just goofing around. Working out the knots. Playing with line quality and expression and different styles.
Anyhoo… it’s no accident that I’m suddenly all about the illustration today. I have the great pleasure of announcing that I am an official contributor to the brand spanking new Illustration Friday Blog where I will be regularly posting sparkling bits of illustrative inspiration collect on my sweeping marches over the internet.
My fellow contributors include Penelope Dullaghan and Brianna Privett, the spectacular women behind the whole of Illustration Friday, and the terrifically talented Josh Sears, Kate Hamilton, Rama Hughes, plus fellow Canadians (and artistic wonders) Steve Mack and Amanda Woodward. Good company to be in, let me assure you!
Today is the official launch, so set your bookmarks and be sure to check regularly! And feel free to comment and suggest any sites or inspirational bits you feel deserve wider attention and recognition.
Ooooo, I’m really really excited about all of this!
Argh! Okay, I swore to myself I wasn’t going to attempt to participate in Illustration Friday until the comic book I’m illustrating was done, because woe! and whoa! i have so much work to do it’s not even fun….. but you see first thing this morning I read all about Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette which I am sooooo looking forward to and which I refuse to let the French ruin for me (the French apparently booed the film’s very recent premiere at Cannes). And then I watched the trailer like six times and marvelled at the visual frothiness, just swimming for a moment in that sugarplum world. And then I turned to I-Fri, jst to see what the topic was, vowing I was just looking… and the subject is cake. Cake!!! What are the odds of that?! And immediately, a full blown illo popped into my head and refused to be dislodged.
This is not it, by the way. This? This is a compromise… I gave myself an hour to to indulge my imagination, knowing that if I didn’t, i wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else. And the illo in my head was so good, so spirited, I didn’t want to lose it forever which is exactly what would happen if I squelched it completely. So I grabbed my hour, ripped out a page I did in my sketchbook over a month ago, modified it a bit, stamped it over with a smear of pink in Photoshop and here we are… Marie. With CAKE. Compromised again.
And before you get all up on yer high horse, I know the “let them eat cake!” thing was at very least taken out of context, and possibly never uttered at all, and poor Marie has been much maligned but nonetheless… i love the flipancy of the idea. So here’s my depiction of that notorious moment, the moment when the exquistitely simple solution just dawns on her… “Cake!”
I’m pretty pleased with the sketch. It captures a certain buoyancy, a certain flounce… i don’t think I did the sketch justice in Photoshop, but whatever… my hour is up. And I’ve got the basis for an illo I will complete down the road, once my plate is cleared. Which probably won’t be until next Easter, but whatever….
Once again, I haven’t had time to create an all new illo for Illustration Friday, but I think this one works with the theme and no one has seen it yet. So…
Meet Indigo Adams. Indigo is one of those poor little rich girls. An only child, now an orphan, her mother was locked up in an insane asylum only days after her birth and her father was a deeply eccentric, enormously wealthy, cold and standoffish man with extraordinary red hued eyes who lived on an enormous perpetually fog shrouded estate where he is was consumed hourly with taxidermy. He died horrifically when the monstrous rhino he was working to preserve toppled over and impaled him on it’s single, deadly horn, leaving his vast fortunes to his one and only daughter, Indigo Belladonna Adams.
Indigo attends a posh private school on the outskirts of London which is governed by a headmistress of such grim disposition, she makes Miss Mitchum (of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess) appear most saintly and cuddlesome in comparison. This does not bother Indigo much. Nothing bothers Indigo much. And in truth, no one bothers with indigo. If they’re smart…
The thing is… Indigo Adams has attended that school for over 150 years. And her appearance has never changed. Not even her clothing. She remains resolutely eleven and alone. Strange and horrific things happen to anyone who dares cross her path or thwarts her will. She rarely speaks a word, but constantly mutters mysterious incantations under her breath. She has a strange fixation with Luna Moths and her room is aflutter with them year round. She smells of lavendar and jasmine and her laughter sounds like tinkling bells, and around her always is an unearthly, almost anglelic glow, but no one who met her in person would call her beautiful.
This illustration began really just as an exercise in color. I just wanted to try out a radically different palette from my usual muted color preference or the bright primaries of my childreen’s work. I picked away at it sporadically over many months, whenever I felt like goofing around. It began life as do all my illustrations with a pencil sketch that I scanned into Photoshop and painted up from there.
If you haven’t heard already, my good friend Lopie has been at it again, raising the bar and astounding all with her brillantly conceived revamp of Illustration Friday. Despite being swamped with the comic book and all, I really felt the need to participate this week so I dug up this image which I’m fairly sure none of you have seen before. It’s part of an illustration from the second Jungleville Tails book I illustrated and features a deliciously round lion cub I took quite a shine to whilst (whilst!) painting this. Also, that sun bathing hippo is a bit roly poly too, as hippos are generally wont to be. Did you know hippos turn bright pink as they are sun-bathing? It’s not a sunburn… it’s because their skin cracks when dry and a reddish secretion that acts as an theraupatic agent is released. It’s like aloe vera for hippos. or something. (mmmmm… hippo secretions!) I’m full of keenly useful knowledge like that. And someday soon, I will share more of it. But right now I have to go watch Jon Stewart (who is also full of keenly useful information) and then maybe, you know, sleep and stuff.