(I realise that it is grammatically impossible to ‘first start drawing again’, but my pre-2009 drawing wasn’t really, truly drawing for a purpose, it was aimless drawing, drawing for the sake of producing a picture of a pretty scene. I was going through the motions, but I didn’t know who I was)
flash forward to now –
and I still see myself as a drawer of things in front of me, but things have changed, and warped.
As a magazine illustrator – I find myself being sent photos to reproduce and, sometimes, I’m sent ideas which I have to somehow conjure into reality (Elvis driving a camper van is still one of my favourites!) which involve sourcing photographs and manipulating them into a drawing.
This was something I recently had to do with a series of mythological tales. One of my personal favourites being the Tale of Brave Gelert. A faithful hound who protected it’s masters’ infant child from a wicked wolf.
As a card designer – I find myself taking illustrations and tweaking and tuning them in Photoshop.
Adding in, necessary, details; such as the information that is found on the backs of cards.
And having to work out page designs.
It’s quite fascinating finding out what’s just around the next corner; what I’ll be asked to turn my (drawing) hand to next …
I’ve enjoyed planning out one or two projects using notebooks and thought it would be quite fun to try to design a notebook that I can use to project plan.
Now I prefer to use A5 notebooks that i can carry around in my bag and I also prefer to have all the pages numbered, so that I can refer to a specific page for a specific element of the project. So, I knew I wanted at least those elements present.
But my approach has been a little topsy-turvy; rather than simply designing a notebook cover and then selecting a style of line for the interior pages, I instead opted for a fish-mash of different paper styles for the interior pages.
So each left-hand page is roughly blank, or at least doesn’t really have lined paper, and the right-hand pages have a selection of different lined papers. But the whole thing is presented as if you’ve already collected this diverse range of different papers and stuffed them into a notebook.
So here on the pages 32-33 spread you’ve got boxes which echo Instant Camera photos and a page from a diary with a bunch of page markers.
and on the pages 62-63 spread you’ve got the back of an envelope and a different diary page, with what looks like some kind of grocery list page.
So, every page is a different selection of hand-drawn papers for you to collect your thoughts on.
All the pages are numbered and the first page can be used as a contents page should you so wish.
It’s like some crazy scrapbook of a notebook – that seems to encourage sticking in of found articles and scrapes of additional paper.
I’ve been experimenting with little ‘incidental’ images to add to blog posts; part of a commission for a friend who has a blog about teaching – Mr Hill’s Musings.
It’s been an interesting commission, forcing me to learn to use some basic functions of Adobe Illustrator. I’ve always said that computers and technology are a bit like a foreign language – we only tend to learn what we need to ‘get by’.
I know a lot of illustrators enjoy using technology to tidy things up and make clean lines, perhaps even producing a whole project using technology,but I have to admit I like to see that contact with the paper – those wobbly lines, variations in line width and colouring. It just seems so much more authentic to me.
Earlier in the year I had to illustrate a cartoon picture of a couple of pirates having a bit of a disagreement.
I was really pleased with how the basic drawing came out – I liked experimenting with the different forms of line and texturing.
And then used pantomime colours for the colouring;
Hmmm … maybe it’s a bit too bright, for me (I do like those muted colours…) But I think it fits the brief of a jolly illustration of funny pirates slaughtering each other .
I’ve had a few crazy days of urban sketching. I’ll write more on this when I get back from my break – however – it was fantastic to meet up with old friends, but also to meet up with people I’ve only been in touch with via social media; people I’ve had conversations with, but never met. I also got to meet a load of creatives who I’ve admired for a long time – in fact it’s been so long that they actually knew me and recognised me! Boy, was that amazing!
It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.
And everyone was very supportive and friendly.
Now I’m looking forward to the next one – in Chicago! (Mmmm… That might be a bit tricky!)
Lucy was doing a Saturday morning course at Leeds University Art Department a few months ago; she really enjoyed experimenting with various art forms and it was a good excuse for Caroline and I to hang out in Leeds for a couple of hours; just enough time to wander into town and grab a cup of tea!
Trying to think of a foodie-related thing to tap into people’s feelings about food festivals – especially when they’re focussed on local produce – I figured a ‘fruit and veg box’ would be a good way to go.
Not this particular fruit and veggie box (on the left) as this was one I produced for Ali Ray’s “Pitch Up, Eat Local” cookery book a couple of years ago, for The AA.
So I’ve been working on a fresh box! In fact I only checked out this older drawing as I was completing the Leeds Food Festival illustration; and I think the newer one is a bit more colourful as it includes fruit and vegetables together.
I didn’t realise that it’d be landing in the real world so soon! Here’s my little contribution; basically an introduction to me and my drawing.
One of my primary motivations for drawing my food was documentation; usually when we go out for a meal it is to either to simply to have a lovely experience or to even celebrate, with friends and family.
When I look back at a foodie drawing – it often transports me back to that time and place; I am able to recall sights and sounds and smells at that location and better remember the whole experience.
Of course, the real trick is to not just draw a picture of the food, but to try to capture a sense of freshness, of heat, of liquidity – all the elements which make a simple dish into something appealing and mouth-watering.
I’d like to think that sometimes I am able to capture that particular lightning in a bottle – to evoke in a foodie drawing those elements which can make the viewers mouth water and create a sense of desire.
The reason why I prefer drawing over photography (although I do photograph my foodie subjects for reference purposes) is that drawing adds personality to the subject.
Taking photographs and drawing both incorporate skill and personality; but whilst photography works via the medium of technology, drawing works via the simplest medium of something as basic as a pencil. The creative can be far more involved in the creation of their work therefore.
I always feel like a lot more of my personality has been used and is on show when I create a drawing.
The word ‘quirky’ is often used to describe my work.
This isn’t something which I have strived for, but rather is a mark of my personality upon the work.
Head on over to my Etsy shop for a couple of little booklets I’ve penned about drawing food.
And I’ve also made a set of cards to offer a little bit of inspiration for drawing your food too!—
I’ve been a bit quiet on this blog for a week or so; the school term has been wrapping up, so I’ve been having to cross t’s and dot i’s and try to reach the end-point with everything completed that needs to be completed and retain my sanity too!
I’ve been working on another little booklet – something a little more interactive (no, not another colouring book!) – initially as an idea for myself, but I thought it might be fun to share it – another week, or thereabouts to finish the drawing work, and I should be ready to start scanning and getting it printed.
okay – so, going back to the magazine commission couple of months ago …
and here we have Herne the Hunter – a kind of mystical tree/stag spirit of the woods.
For these illustrations I was trying to channel nostalgia – each of the five illustrations was of a different legendary character, so I felt it necessary to illustrate them in a suitable style.
I choose to illustrate the mythical spirit of the greenwood not as a stag-headed man, but as a man dressed in stag garb, purely in reference to the old “Robin of Sherwood” television series from the early/mid eighties.
Again, the trees are an amalgam from various John Ford woodland illustrations.
on a vaguely related note …
I Know What I’m Doing This Summer
… I’ve not posted for a little while – well, my reasons are several-fold; I find myself in the exciting position of being spewed out of mainstream 9 to 5 work in a small handful of weeks – an escape from full-time teaching (again! … “Just when I thought I’d got out! They pull me back in!”) So, I’ve got a bunch of weeks over the Summer break to put together a wider range of products -; some cards and another booklet, methinks. I know what it is that I want to do ….
.. but, it ain’t half tricky motivating oneself towards goals like this without deadlines! I’m trying to set the deadline of the end of the Summer break (for UK schools) as I’ll be dipping my toes back in the exciting world of supply teaching again!