March 2011


Illustration Friday: Toy

“Traffic was backed up for miles”.

Dip pen and ink. All the toys except the sedan are from the toybox in my Australian grandmother’s house. The sheep and the motorcyclist are, I suspect, lead – their finer details are very malleable and, in some cases, missing. The van and the rhinoceros are plastic. I found the sedan in the backyard uncovered by the rain and kept it – I love toy cars with doors that open.

Archer's Gone

On Saturday, Diana Wynne Jones died.

I only knew her books, and they are extraordinary. Desperately homely worlds that rolled out into infinite branching wonders. Unassuming characters in ramshackle households who learned to be heroes within, and in spite of, and because of their families. Enormously silly chaotic denouements which make absolute sense in the world of the book, and luminous strange endings which are inexplicable and yet must be – surely are! – happy. Books that make me want to go outside and look at the sky, and do things. And now, I want to stay inside and read them all again.

Some years ago, the DWJ mailing list was discussing lines from her novels which had found their way into their lives, among which, from Archer’s Goon, was the cry, “Hathaway! Send a bus!”, professed to be useful in situations of transport-deficiency.

I have been spending some evenings in the company of various very cool people (VCPs – you know who you are!). With two particular VCPs I have been spending happy hours in the Indooroopilly McCafe, drinking lattes (we are nothing if not classy) and dissecting the notes one of them takes in Kim Wilkins’ writing lectures.

One of the tutorial activities involved writing blurbs for hypothetical books, and my friend thought her classmates took the task far, far too seriously. To assuage her disappointment, we invented Blurb Wars.

To play Blurb Wars:

  1. Each player takes a sheet of paper, draws a rectangle and writes an imaginary book title in it. The pages are then passed along one player.
  2. Each player then draws the cover art for the title they have received. Again, the pages are passed along.
  3. The third player then has to write a thrilling blurb.

Some variations:

  1. Themes – for example, we played a round of sequels. They were invented sequels to invented novels (Son of the Cousin of the Bride of the Swamp-Thing, and so forth), but you could also do: sequels to known, sadly sequelless books; titles with a certain word in them; genre-themed rounds (eg romance, science fiction), and so on.
  2. Add extra steps, such as writing the opening paragraph or doing the movie poster and casting, or writing a review. These steps could be in any order – you could, for example, start with the casting, then the poster, then the title of the book of the movie.
  3. Randomly generate elements, e.g. titles could be chosen by choosing one noun and one adjective out of hats.
  4. Play it off the back of a particular fairytale or storytelling game.

Scoring:

None. I prefer games which are played with no or minimal scoring (or, indeed, strategy), but simply for the purposes of invention and hilarity. You may invent your own scoring to suit your purposes. Or put the pages on display and let people vote on which they’d read.

This is my favourite of my covers:

Sewing Shawl

This week’s Illustration Friday illustration is a pen and ink drawing which I edited in Inkscape and Photoshop (thinking: cultivate –> elegance and flowers).

It is also one of two illustrations I did for a guest post on Gillian Pollack’s blog for Women’s History Month. She has collected a wonderful range of posts by very different women. Mine is a little bit on my childhood and a little bit of opinion on Strong Female Characters. You should read them all, but mine is here: Women’s History Month: Kathleen Jennings.

In other news: Our house was carefully cleaned for my sister’s visitors and is now reduced to a wasteland of ink and nibs and art and books and paper and chai and turkish apple tea by mine; friends and I have been inventing writing games, about which I will post more; I am still dancing on Mondays and Wednesdays (and hobbling on Fridays); I went to Jason Webley‘s concert at The Zoo on Wednesday and it was wonderful; I am in the throes of several projects; I like work; I need sleep.

Edit: I know this is linked to the Illustration Friday page under Toy but the topic must have switched over while I was posting it. Also, not midnight yet! Still Friday!

I eat a biscuit (cookie, for Americans)You can see it larger here.

Fairly self-explanatory, I think? Part cartoon, part thank-you note to the friend who acquired it for me from her firm’s career fair promotion material. Pen and ink (and butter, sugar, flour…).

And here is an illustration for this week’s Illustration Friday, “Stir” (also pen and ink and thematically related). When we were younger we used to find the Kenwood mixer’s dough-hook ideal for clasping at the end of a long sleeve and being all piratical, but the new, streamlined, ergonomic design is less appealing for that purpose.

Illustration Friday: Stir

Illustration Friday: Warning

Maybe Chicken Little was simply a bird ahead of its time.
Pen and ink with shading and texture added digitally.

The little fellow below was a straight, unplanned freehand sketch, and I’m rather fond of him.

Weathercock