Justine Larbalestier's boots

The latest project to go live! Pen and ink with digital colour, over a coat of arms supplied by Justine. These boots are an icon for author Justine Larbalestier, and are based on her own remarkable boots (which I first saw at the Brisbane Writers Festival last year).

JustineWeb

I am a fan of good boots, perhaps because of scarcity. I grew up wearing boots (elastic sided RMs, in my part of the country), but I have large feet with a high instep, and have spent too much time having my plastic-bag-wrapped foot physically wrestled into boots by aggressive salespeople.

Now, I often send my characters (drawn or written) off wearing good sturdy footwear, which they do not have any difficulty buying in their size.

 

Illustration Friday: Novelty

Continuing with the playing card motifs, while sketching armour late at night. This piece is all digital (textures from an old book, as usual). I have no idea where the idea came from. I was thinking about bad puns and knight-jokes this afternoon (what weapon does a knight fear the most*), but can’t trace the connection. One day I will discover a purpose for these images, beyond trialling ideas and techniques.

 

*A can opener.

Illustration Friday: Money

I am trying to use paints (in this case, watercolour pencils over lead pencil) more often, as I could use the practice.

For this topic, I was continuing with the playing card theme (round cards this time), influenced by too many Georgette Heyer novels in which fortunes are gambled away.

Bitterwood Bible - spine image

My copy of Angela Slatter‘s collection The Bitterwood Bible finally arrived, and it is so (literally) shiny.

Dust jacket

The dust jacket is consistent with Tartarus Press style, but underneath there is foil on the boards, and it gleams! Here is a flash photo for maximum effect (I am so happy the little fox on the stand turned out as it should).

FoilforWeb

There are many, many pictures inside, too – here are a few as they appear in the original sketchbook:

WebIllo4

 

And here are the beloved badgers:

Badgers

 

 

Some exciting news!

I’ve been fortunate enough to receive funding from the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, towards attending the World Fantasy Convention in Arlington, VA this November, as part of my development as an illustrator. Angela Slatter and I are working on a graphic reworking of the title story of her collection Sourdough (to which her newest collection, The Bitterwood Bible, is the prequel), and I’m also putting together some work for the art show, so… it will be a busy few weeks (eek) leading up to the trip. I’m hoping to spend some time in New York and Massachusetts either side of the convention.

I also found out that I’m going to the Creative3 forum this month, sponsored by Redchip Lawyers, in my capacity as a creative business-person, and also hoping to bring some ideas back to my involvement with the Queensland Writers Centre. It’s two days of entrepreneurs and business people talking about creativity, enterprise and investment, all things I am endeavouring to think about more.

And also I finally booked for a steam-train ride up to Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers, something I’ve been wishing to do for several years. The little cardboard tickets arrived today.

On Peter M Ball’s repeated recommendations, I’ve just finished reading Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer, by Jeff Vandermeer, attempting to read it both as a writer and for its potential for application to illustrating (Artlife?).

Print

Of the whole dense and informative book, the part which stayed with me was the section on goals.

Curious personal hang-ups

Now, goals and five-year-plans are not news, but I never saw the point. “A plan is a basis for change,” after all, and “No plan survives contact with the enemy”. Also, “man plans, God laughs,” and serendipity has always been quite good to our family, while “saying ‘I wish’ means you aren’t happy with the way things are,” and if you admit you aren’t happy with the way things are, then you fix them. If that sounds like an odd combination of military principles, hippy survivalist mentality and Puritan work ethic, welcome to my upbringing.
So I have never set official goals, and nothing went horribly wrong (except for accidentally becoming a lawyer).

The blindingly obvious

Reading Booklife, it finally clicked: The idea of goals, not primarily as a destination but as a template for making decisions.

The casting vote. The deciding principle. Something to be regularly referred to, not for motivation but for course-correction.

The paper in my pocket

So I have made a list, dividing it into three columns: one for writing, one for art, and one for more general business/financial/support goals. Then I have a row for the 5 year goals, the 1 year goals, and then twelve months, with the current one broken into weeks.

As per the book, the intention is to refer to this when making decisions about what to do, or concentrate on, or stop doing. Does this get me nearer to a goal? Does it also support one of the others? Is the effort:result ratio reasonable or is it pulling me away from other things? Does this thing which is taking up all my evenings this week and has nothing to do with a goal really matter? And if so, should I revise the goals?

Past form

The odd thing (or alternatively proof that it is largely semantics, and that semantics matter) was that, for all my goal-aversion, I was already doing this in two respects:

  • I had stopped making New Year’s Resolutions several years ago, and started making lists of New Year’s Aspirations, being things it would be fun to achieve/do/eat. (I recommend this approach).
  • I had been keeping an illustration wish list of jobs or techniques I wanted to try, which both gave me a guide of jobs to chase/accept and a sense of satisfaction when I was able to tick something off. Although I still haven’t done endpapers.

Digression on ducks

Making the list, I found it interesting to note the apparently necessary differences between the art and writing goals (Write a Big Thing vs Draw a Duck), and the shape of reaching them (Plan/Draft/Revise/Edit/Repeat vs Draw a Duck). Writing (even short stories) is often long-term, large-scale, with a high threshold to audience appreciation, and creator-driven. Illustration consists of many small projects, at a smaller scale, easily seen and reacted to, and often pushed/pulled forward by art directors and deadlines.

I’m curious to see how the two diverge or converge over time, and whether I can more deliberately adapt approaches and mentalities from one into the other.

A Duck with a Plan

DuckWithPlan

Still with the playing card theme for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, “skull.” I am drawing birds for other reasons, and thinking of the fool Eulenspiegel (and fools in general) because of Rima Staines’ Unknown Fool puppet. And fools and skulls of course suggest poor Yorick, and thus, the latest card: the Prince of Birds:

Illustration Friday: Skull

 

In other news, everyone else seems to have received their copies of Angela Slatter’s Bitterwood Bible – everyone save the artist! Sigh. It is reported to be very shining:

Foil2

 

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