March 4, 2014
Who – who?
An attempt to emulate, digitally, some mid-century illustration styles.
In other news: There’s a family wedding on this weekend and we had a 2000km road trip from Adelaide to Brisbane at the end of last week in preparation, so… not a whole lot else is going on at the moment! But several new projects are brewing or being sketched, and I have a Plan of Attack on a too-small whiteboard.
March 2, 2014
Catherynne M. Valente’s collection The Bread We Eat in Dreams is published! Beautiful, velvety, three-dimensional and smelling of ink. I really like the finish Subterranean Press uses for their dust jackets.
I’ve loved Valente’s work for years and it was a delight to be asked by Subterranean to illustrate this collection. There is an immense variety here – poems, stories, lists, far-futures, travelling rooms, unexpected facts, fallout and fairytales, blood and bone and apples (the author’s comments on the stories are here on Subterranean’s website). If I had to pick one favourite, it would be “The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland, for a little while” a prequel to (utterly enchanting) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I read this when I was only two chapters into the novel, however, which created a perfect tension of suspense/devastation on finishing both. But images from so many of the stories linger with me.
Proposed illustration for The Girl Who Ruled…
The jacket is another full wrap-around design, with references in it to all the stories and poems, which is a game I like to play when I have the chance to read a whole collection before illustrating (and the art director lets me!).
If you click on the image, you should be able to see a much larger version, however here are a couple of my favourite details:
I will follow up with another post on the process, and the internal illustrations. Watch this space…
February 16, 2014
I wanted to try making a video of an illustration, so this week’s Illustration Friday picture (topic: Twisted) is all digital. I’m working on some more silhouette illustrations at the moment, so I used that style – I still prefer the process of cutting the design out of paper, as there is both more and less control and I like the nearness and quality of line better. But I think this works, and slightly better than the video which was at too low a resolution for you to read what I’m clicking on. But you can see the time-lapse construction of the picture! And how I don’t update my operating system!
February 13, 2014
This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “Prehistoric”, so here is a love letter to girls who love dinosaurs, who can still name the dinosaurs from Land Before Time when they see the old Pizza Hut toys adorning the tow-bar of the car ahead, who stepped from Disney to Michael Crichton (my scary movie sequence went Pinocchio* –> Jurassic Park), and fell in love with science (and Jeff Goldblum).
It’s also practice at doing pieces from the ground up on the computer (although the texture is from some coffee-stained paper). I still prefer to work in physical media but Illustration Friday is an opportunity to train myself in new areas as well as test ideas and do trial runs.
*Although I should note the similarities are strong: a kindly old man with a history of puppetry attempting to recreate nature; life finding a way; theme park islands with a very dark side; pursuit by giant beasts… I may actually have to rethink my whole reading of Jurassic Park now. And reread it, of course.
February 6, 2014
There is a remarkable dignity and gentleness to Carolyn Morwood’s Eleanor Jones mysteries. Her Melbourne of the ’20s, and the characters in it, are much closer to the thoughtful, measured world of Dorothy Sayers’ post-WWI London than to (say) the madcap adventures of Kerry Greenwood’s Phrynne Fisher. The sort of books which move quickly and yet leave you feeling as if you’ve been immersed in them for much longer.
- The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
- American Hustle
- The Book Thief
- 47 Ronin
- Saving Mr Banks
I’m confused by 47 Ronin. It feels like someone said, “But you can’t make that story into a movie – look at the ending!”. And someone else said, “Then we’ll put in monsters! and Keanu! and remarkably tattooed Dutch pirates who will look awesome on the poster!” but didn’t actually change the hero or the plot of the earlier script. So the movie wasn’t about Saving The World From Ultimate Evil, but did a good job of looking like it ought to be. It did do two things I liked, and which oddly paralleled Monsters University (make of that what you will). It showed actions which had Consequences, and also that a predominantly male cast can still have colourful costume design.
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is currently showing a remarkable program of fairytale films. In January I went to:
- The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the oldest surviving animated feature film, with live accompaniment
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (the Gilliam one), which did many things very well – most Gilliam films fall short of what I wish they were, yet no-one else would have even tried to get that close. In this, I loved the Baron (the most appropriate ageing makeup I’ve seen), the opening titles (The eighteenth century… the Age of Reason… Wednesday), the importance of illogic and of course, “Everyone lived happily ever after, at least those who had a talent for it.”
My housemate and I were doing 20/10s – 20 minutes art or cleaning, 10 minutes watching a show. Quite a bit of our productivity may be credited to these Barbara Cartland historical melodramas on YouTube:
- The Lady and the Highwayman (with Hugh Grant!)
- A Ghost in Monte Carlo
I wish there were more unashamed (I won’t say shameless, as it would give the wrong impression of what are pretty chaste stories) melodramas around. They are so much fun! No-one ever stops for introspection, shocking disclosures are followed by prompt action, quiet interludes interrupted by runaway carriages, cliffs and treasonous plots lurk around every corner…
February 3, 2014
A little gouache painting of Thumbelina while watching a Gary Cooper movie with my father. I am painting more lately, and can feel myself getting a bit more comfortable with it, although I’m still very much exploring it. I love the finished effect of gouache, however.
You should be able to see a larger version of her by clicking on the picture to go through to the Flickr page.
Of course, as soon as I finished the painting I told my father what the topic was and he reminded me of the story I should have painted, in which he and another officer both brought home American nurses (one of which was my mother), who their commanding officer insisted on referring to as “those exotic foreign women.”
January 27, 2014
I have spent the long weekend working on a book cover, so decided to play around disguising some existing pieces for this little piece of Illustration Friday camouflage: a painting from two weeks ago, a favourite coffee-and-ink texture which I rarely get to use, and some new tendrils of cut-paper, combined and altered in Photoshop Elements with some snowflakes on top. The image itself is from a combination of several fairytales – stars and ghosts and forests…