Illustration Friday: Mystery
Two art challenges coincide this week: The Month of Love‘s “hero” challenge, and Illustration Friday‘s “mystery”. I was reading “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” to my father this morning, and remembering (as I often do when I read instead of watching Sherlock Holmes), how human and eccentric and kind the great detective is. He is funny, polite, so rarely cruel (except to Lestrade), genuinely sympathetic to preserving honour and furthering young love, truthfully delighted to have Watson’s company, carrying sonnets in his pocket and, when weary, preferring to talk about novels than crime.

“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” (1891) has the additional charms of extensive Australian connections, the need for Holmes to say “coo-ee” more than once, and the slightly jarring experience of a proper (if impetuous) young Victorian woman referring to “my dad”.Sherlock-Boscombe-Sketch

I sketched the ornaments above after finishing the story and putting on an episode of Foyle’s War, then since I’d inadvertently brought a piece of scratchboard with me, I borrowed a utility knife from my mother and elaborated on one of the designs. If I go further with the idea, I’ll work with better tools and to a larger scale (this is about 11cm/4.5 inches high).

 

This week on Twitter etc. (rings by Janet Kofoed)

This week on Twitter etc. (rings by Janet Kofoed)

Alison-Goodman-sketch---not-used

  • The X-Files finally started in Australia (everyone complained about the pop-up ads but I thought it restored the nostalgia which the shock of watching on flat-screen in HD took away). In commemoration, here is the original music video to Bree Sharp’s “David Duchovny” which is so full of wait-was-that? cameos that it bears watching to the very end:

  • If you are into Old Hollywood, You Must Remember This, or Catherynne M Valente’s Radiance, then this long but cumulatively charming article from Brisbane newspaper The Truth, only 100 years ago, is a winsome read: Where Films Are Faked, Fixed and Finished.
  • The rather marvellous talking-to-writers expedition last week included much talk of pens, and it is one of the joys of working in these fields that asking “what pen do you use” tends to result in an arsenal emptied over the banquet table (that was at Illuxcon), while their owners trade virtues and merits. For the record mine are: Hunt Crowquill 102 with Winsor & Newton India Ink (drawing), Pitt Artist Pens (sketching), slim fine ballpoint (for notes, although I haven’t settled on one that is reliably non-blotting).

Hunt Crow Quill

  • Peter Ball’s post on “Prose, Blocking and the Perfect Combination” has a very useful approach to thoughtfully orchestrating the action in your writing.
  • Peter’s post (above), however, also underlines the degree to which storytelling advice translates across media. Illustration, movies, novels: all these contain examples and principles which can be incredibly helpful no matter what field you’re working in. Plus, if you need another incentive to watch Every Frame A Painting, it is 7 minutes of all the Best Bits.
  • Another resource for those trying to make the impossible believable is James Gurney’s Imaginative Realism (that’s James National-Geographic-and-Dinotopia Gurney). It’s also just interesting – my mother made off with my copy to read it. His rather good blog is Gurney Journey.
  • Here’s a less accessible but in-depth look at some myths about classic composition advice – of direct use to photographers and artists but, I would argue, also very useful to writers if you don’t mind doing some heavy lifting with metaphors (and you’re writers, aren’t you?): 10 Myths about the Rule of Thirds
  • The Ship Song Project continues to be beautiful – when I sing it while doing the dishes, this is the version I try to sing:

 

Illustration Friday: Smart

Due to circumstances I am temporarily parted from some of my art materials, so here, for Illustration Friday topic Smart and the Australian Fairy Tale Society‘s fairytale-of-the-month “Bluebeard” are pencil sketches of Lady Mary and The Girl Who Got Up the Tree: two of the clever heroines of Bluebeard-class (or slasher-fairytale) tales, who reveal through riddles their lovers’ perfidy. (You can see a larger version on Flickr here).

(There’s an A on the handkerchief with the severed finger because I misremembered the heroine of “Mr Fox” as Lady Alice).

Here is a compilation of a few time-lapse videos behind-the-scenes on the early Tremontaine covers. The making of videos is an ongoing learning curve, and for part of this I had a rather unwieldy camera rig, with the phone attached to my collar by a gorillapod (if you look carefully, you can catch a glimpse of it in the photos on Tor.com’s article). In the other parts, the gorillapod was wrapped around the neck of a bottle.

Season 1 is now complete, but the story has been renewed for a second season.

January-books

Books finished

The Accidental Creative – Todd Henry: Read on Peter Ball‘s repeated recommendation, and proving very practical as I sort out how this year is working.

The Black Sheep – Georgette Heyer: I’d forgotten I’d read this book until I reached the last few chapters (of which I’m rather fond). Mari Ness’s write-up of this on Tor.com (Almost Slumming It: Black Sheep) is, as usual, thoughtful and thought-provoking: “Miss Abigail Wendover, the protagonist of Black Sheep, is under the very understandable impression that she is in a Georgette Heyer novel.”

The Scarecrows – Robert Westall: courtesy of Kelly Link

The Seance – John Harwood: recommend and lent by Angela Slatter, with a gorgeous Niroot Puttapipat cover.

Radiance – Catherynne M. Valente, with a Will Staehle cover which perfectly captures this “decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood-and solar system-very different from our own”

The End of a Fence – Roman Muradov: I still have no idea what happened in this little graphic novel but I liked it, and the author has confirmed that is the point. It operates slightly below the conscious level, is very beautiful, and without looking in the least like it reminded me slightly of the world of Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing.

Claiming the Courtesan – Anna Campbell’s debut novel

Assorted books in progress

Making Your Own Days – Kenneth Koch

Boy, Snow, Bird – Helen Oyeyemi

The Memoirs of Harriet Wilson – Harriette Wilson

Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks – Alan Coren

Movies and music

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

The Big Short

Joanna Newsome concert

Thoughts

A pattern I noticed across many books I read this month was that of lies, duality, falsehood and their power to create truth, or something new and true and separate from the truth they started off from…
(more…)

22-29 Jan on Twitter etc

22-29 Jan on Twitter etc

Bitterwood Bible - spine image

  • A reminder of the long-ago, beautiful happening that was picturebookreport.com – you may recognise some of the names involved! This was where I fell in love with Kali Ciesemier’s vision of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and with Sam Bosma’s art for The Hobbit, and one of the earliest examples that really had an impact on me, of people Not Sitting On Their Hands But Putting Things Out In The World (quote more or less from Karen Beilharz’s original Plan to Take over the World, which was another example at roughly the same time). Putting Things Out In The World is a very important artistic practice!
  • I learned a lot at the time from Sam Bosma’s posts on the process of illustrating The Hobbit – just this week I went back to find his description of working with colour flats to explain them to another artist. But whether you love The Hobbit, beautiful finished artwork, process posts or lots and lots of sketches of goblins, that series of posts remain worth a look.
  • The final episode of Tremontaine has been released! At least, for this season…

Tremontaine episode 13 cover

  • Based on the title alone, I am very excited about the new Serial Box series The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, created by Lindsay Smith and Max Gladstone, and written by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis and Michael Swanwick. The first episode is out and free! (text and audio)
  • Milli and Fink screenprinting workshops are up again (Ipswich, Queensland) – I did one of these a few years ago (post: Screen printing) and it was great: http://www.milliandfink.bigcartel.com.
  • If you ever describe a painting in your writing, the descriptions of art in this article are loving, funny & effective: The Emergence of the Winter Landscape. Also, lots of medieval snowball fights. (h/t Sydney Padua)
  • I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.EB White
  • I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost.EB White

Illustration Friday: Orbit - skirt

The Illustration Friday topic this week was Orbit. I worked through a few concepts (moon-gazing -> Hobbits -> Mary Poppins -> The Childlike Princess -> The Goblin Prince -> Celestial Carousels -> back to Labyrinth -> Regency astronomy -> satellites).

Illustration Friday: Orbit sketches

Eventually came back to the carousel. Why? I do not not know? It involved a lot more work, digging out compasses, working at a large scale, working out new techniques I’d just learned in Inkscape… Probably for all of those reasons.

The idea is to print this on fabric, a panel per yard, and make a skirt in one of the two colourways. I haven’t decided which, but will report back if it works. Or if it fails in unexpected and humorous ways.

Illustration Friday: Orbit - girls

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