April 2011


Illustration Friday: Bicycle

Since the royal wedding is all-pervading.

In other news: Why yes, I am going to watch the wedding, with (I am promised) trifle and our own running commentary since certain satirical coverages have been cancelled. My computer has been troublesome and the man at the store (for whom it worked perfectly) was astonished at its age (I am given to understand it now has retro chic). I stalked an old French man at the Borders closing sale until he admitted he was not buying the book I wanted – “It is just – the ’20s, I love them… but – too late!” he said, and I answered, “Cheer up, we’re almost there again.” I did let him finish looking through the book. I am not completely heartless. The rain and the flood commission continue. My sister brought some spot-on-CWA-perfect coconut cake home from work. I also have a picture of an echidna on an exercise bicycle but must reserve it for the opportune moment.

I’ve wanted to do an Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (ASIM) cover for a few years. Last year, I did an internal illustration for Joanne Anderton‘s “Breathtaker” in issue #44, but this year Simon Petrie asked me to do 6 black and white internal illustrations and a colour cover for issue #51. All illustrations are done and away now, although the issue won’t be out for a month or two more.

The cover was to be in an old-fashioned storybook style, based on Thoraiya Dyer‘s “The Birds, the Bees, and Thylacine,” and caused me a variety of agonies. Finally last weekend I scrapped all the sketches I had made and did two small pen-and-ink drawings using an entirely different composition, and that worked. It worked so well I ended up with 2 different covers. So I will now keep “abrupt change of direction” as one of the tools in my sketchbox.

This is the cover which ASIM didn’t choose (the final cover is much softer and paler, and has apple trees). The space at the top and shadow at the bottom were for the title and contributor list. I agree with the final choice, but I still like this shade of yellow:

Thylacine - back-up cover

Now I have to work on a tattoo design, rhinoceri, historical diners and an illustration for one of my own stories, “Undine Love”, which is coming out later this year. It’s very difficult illustrating my own work because I feel as if I ought to know what my characters look like. I don’t. I could draw you a fairly exact image of the setting, and hazard a guess at the secondary characters, but the closer I get into someone’s head the less I know what they look like. I have even written down a list of all the friends I am prepared to subject to pressure to model for me (it is a long list, at least for female characters) and am considering their suitability.

The catalogue for the Future Imperfect art show (with 4 of my pieces, posted earlier) is out: http://2011.swancon.com.au/natcon50-art-show/

Illustration Friday: Journey - elaborate

The picture above is a test patch for a larger mosaic illustration. It is 11cm high, drawn in pen and ink. I now have a cramp in my hand and am probably not going to approach the larger picture this way! Below is a much simpler pen and ink sketch of the same character, who I imagine (like so many English heroes) ran out the door without so much as a pocket handkerchief. Colours for both are added in Photoshop.

Illustration Friday: Journey - simple

Illustration Friday: Bottled

A quick pen and ink genie for this week’s Illustration Friday. I’d like to do this idea again but with more happening behind the genie’s smoke-trail to emphasise the transparency.

Elsewhere in life, I have been fighting with matt board for my pieces for the Future Imperfect Art Show. Also, drawing rhinoceri, thylacines and experimental food.

The Future Imperfect art show is being held at Swancon in Perth over Easter. I cannot go (one day I will make it to Western Australia!) but I am putting 4 pieces in the exhibition. The catalogue is not yet out (I will link to it when it is published), but I have seen it and the art is all large and vibrant – except for my tiny monochrome pieces!

These are all in pen and ink and measure approximately 11 x 11cm (just over 4″x4″).

Listening device - a Victorian lady wears a flowered hat with a metal horn angled towards her ear

The text for the picture above reads, “A personal listening advice – portable and adjustable…” and was inspired by articles (new and old) on the Death of the Book. The writing in the top right corner is a reference to “Vere Thornleigh’s Inheritance” by AM Hopkinson (I haven’t read it, but it is serialised in Cassell’s Family Magazine, which is a favourite reference of mine). Those are my eyebrows, and the roses I bought on sale at at the supermarket.

Mechanical Magpie - a wind-up tin magpie with the punched paper strip which programs it

The mechanical magpie is based on iPods and the Emperor’s Nightingale, and a small tin goose Christmas ornament I have. The pearls were my Australian grandmother’s, as was the silver box their case is based on, and the key which has become the winder on the bird. The image behind is an Australian reimagining of some Chinese silk embroideries an ambassador gave her on a cruise.

Text messages - two Edwardian school girls send messages by pigeon

A rather obvious joke, perhaps, in this one. The text reads, “They will send text messages when they should be studying…” The art is with apologies to the illustrator of Sophie Knightley’s story “The Mascot of Merlin House” which appeared in The Violet Book for Girls edited by Mrs Herbert Strang. The internet says it was first published in 1914. My extraordinarily battered copy was “presented to [Lollie? Sallie?] Harris for attendance” at Wyena State School at “Xmas 1914”. The patterned glass is in all my favourite windows.

Flying nurse - a nurse sits with a patient in the basket of a dirigible

The style of this one, like the “Text messages” picture, is intended to hark back to the girls’ adventure books. The nurse is based on a picture of my great-great aunt? grandmother? who looks both startlingly like me and like Mrs Gulch, although with more lace. I’ve toned this lady down a bit. The name of this aircraft is the Victoire, because the first plane in the Australian Aerial Medical Service (later, the Royal Flying Doctor Service) was the Victory. My family never had to use the service, but I did a substantial portion of my schooling over a Flying Doctor radio.

Illustration Friday: Duet

K & C in full song. Pen and ink (sepia and yellow) and hilarity. I understand they then went to Supanova in the Totoro and Cat Bus beanies (although, given K’s current wheelchaired state I was arguing for either a cardboard-box Dalek costume or a full-fledged Cat Bus).

Below is a slightly more serious pencil sketch with colour added in Photoshop:

Illustration Friday: Duet (less silly)