Illustration Friday: Twisted

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!

Illustration Friday: Prehistoric

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.

Books

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.

Movies

  • 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.

Special events

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
  • Jabberwocky
  • 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.”

Honourable Mentions

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…

Illustration Friday: Exotic

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.”

Illustration Friday: Disguise

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…

Illustration Friday: Beginning

Some initial capitals, in scratchboard with digital colour, for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, “Beginning“. They are, as usual, test pieces for another larger project, but I chose the letters based on what I thought were the first letters of some recent poems. I managed to get one completely wrong.

Last week, Terri Windling held a winter poetry challenge on her blog. Below are three of my contributions. The first, on bears, I posted with the last Illustration Friday picture. One other is not here because it turns out it did not start with the letter “I”. So I have a spare capital and a poem to post later. If you are a fan of poetry, illustration, myths, fables or fairytales, I recommend checking out the posts – there are many more poems in the comments.

BAVARIA

(Theme: Snow White, and a memory of first encountering a landscape out of fairytales)

hen apple trees scrabbled to view,
Above a wall, boughs half-unleaved,
Heavy with portent and truth,
All bronze and pewter, I believed.
When garnet, pomegranate fruit,
Struck at my heart, I almost grieved.
(The castles only ever were
Sprung from some wild dream-aquifer).
Snow falling from the mirrored sky,
Softened the blow. But then when I
Saw winter forests spider-grey
All webbed and knotted out of view,
(So little space to struggle through),
I knew the stories all were true.

CUSTOM

(Theme: Deer in Fairy Tales, Folklore and Myth, which fit with recent research on legends of white deer for another project)

BeginningWDeer

e do not say we saw a deer. We saw
The starlight slanting through rain-silvered leaves
The mist lift off the lake, owls through the trees
Glide white and silent. This, and nothing more.

We do not say we saw a figure pale
Among the rushes, long-limbed, loitering.
We saw the rushes only, rustling,
The thin frost freezing to a glassy veil.

We do not speak of tracks that, seen too near,
Appear to change from hooves to naked feet.
We do not speak of strangers whom we meet -
Such questions only ever cost too dear.

We keep an older law:
These two have always been
Separate: What you have seen
And what you say you saw.

ROBIN’S FLIGHT

(Theme: The Wild in Myth, Folklore and Fantasy)

ut of rumour and night,
Blood and bone,
Something knotted and gnarled
Had sprouted and grown.

A tree climbed out of a heart.
It may have been
Oak or ash or elder,
Or else from a dream -
Not evergreen.

When the crown of gold and scarlet
Tarnished to grey
The branches clutched at sky.
Something had flown away.

Illustration Friday: Search

My current art warm-up exercise is painting this year’s calendar – free-handed ink and gouache with a liberal dash of gold acrylic – and the stories for these four months all involve searching: sisters for brothers, brave lassies for lovers, mothers for daughters…

The girl on the bear is generally from the story “East of the Sun, West of the Moon“, which I had in mind because of Terri Windling’s winter poetry challenge, and yesterday’s topic, which was bears. The post is full of fairytale art, and the comments of poetry.

Australia is bearless, but my mother is more-or-less from Colorado and we were raised  in Western Queensland on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, as well as fairytales (and my father telling us to run outside because bears had come in the night, we could still see bare footprints around the house), so this is my poem:

Bears My Mother Brought With Her

The bears that haunted
Nights and sleep,
The bears that spread
Their skins for warmth
In covered-wagon dreams,
The bears
That kept the dark
Soft-furred and deep,
That left their mark
On trackless dust,
The bears that must
Have haunted trees
And granite hills,
Have spilled
From northern lips
And filled
The bare and bearless
Eucalypts,
And fallen on this thin divide,
Have ranged like cattle in the dusk,
Left stories like a trace of musk,
Carried the frost off like a bride
On broad translucent labouring shoulders,
Lichened like boulders -

And we, who never saw a bear,
We never doubted they were there.

And here is another digital sketch, of the end of a search:

 

 

Illustration Friday: Search

 

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