June 2011


Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the Dalek)

This is the twelfth installment in the Dalek Game and is for Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) – and also obliquely for Connie Willis’ brilliant science-fiction cross-over with it, To Say Nothing of the Dog. The original book put me off camping, boating and swans.

Announcement: This is a tiny pen and ink drawing, but you can commission an A4 picture on any subject if you support this Pozible campaign for $100 and it gets off the ground: Help us print and launch Kinds of Blue – and that is very cheap for an A4 drawing! Kinds of Blue is a comics anthology by 14 young Australian artists and writers and I did the art for two of the comics.

Peter Pan and Dalek

This is the eleventh installment in the Dalek Game and is for J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy.

My sister had a Peter Pan party when she was 7 and we were living in Brisbane. There were little pirates and Tinkerbells all over the place, and I *think* that was when we played “pin the hair on the mermaid”. I don’t remember what the pinata was of, but my mother always made the papier mache so thick that you had to break the string and tear the pinata apart on the ground with your bare hands. I had to go as Peter Pan, but at least I got a sword and a green tunic out of the deal.

My father made the sword out of aluminium strips with rounded edges, a rivet and packing tape, and both sword and tunic came in handy for later games of Robin Hood in the tunnels of yellow jasmine, lantana, mango and loquat behind the house. Since the best part of Robin Hood was when Marion showed up dressed as a pageboy and Robin didn’t recognise her, there was no stigma attached to wearing any particular clothes in that game, although obviously Lincoln green was preferred. We made the bows and arrows out of papyrus stems, twigs and palm bark.

The only Peter Pan game we played was one which involved putting on the Disney soundtrack, dancing around the living room singing “we can fly” and throwing handfuls of glitter into the air, to watch it spiral beautifully down to lodge eternally in the maroon shag-pile carpet.

My father still can’t stand glitter.

Illustration Friday: Shadows

“The long red-carpeted hall was full of shadows from the one lonely light burning in the middle of the ceiling. Their long coiling shapes looked like dragons. Janet did not mention this to Molly.” – Tam Lin, Pamela Dean

A very little (much smaller than shown here) pen and ink sketch I did last night, while working out the style for another piece. Digital colour.

In other news: it is abruptly cold and I may wear gloves to bed; I have an exam in the morning which just shows bad management and MUST NOT HAPPEN AGAIN; I got an email earlier this week which was a wish I made (aloud on this blog a few years ago) come true; my voice is back; I have a few excellent illustration projects in various stages of completion and shall unveil them in due course; ASIM #51 is out and I have my copies – I have put up a post on doing the cover art and will do another on the interior illustration process soon; and the Dalek game continues.

Short History of Daleks in Ukrainian
And what more is there to say? This is the tenth installment in the Dalek Game, and one in which I prove I can’t write in a straight line. There is a lot more action in the next one (out Saturday).

In other news, I’ve received my contributor copies of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine! I did a post on illustration process for the cover (Cover art process) and will put up some of the internal pictures soon.

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 51 has been released! Here is the official announcement: ASIM 51: Our first quarterly issue.

For those interested in such details, here is a quick glimpse of the process of doing the cover, based on (the talented, lovely and award-winning) Thoraiya Dyer‘s “The Birds, the Bees, and Thylacine”.

Simon, the editor, had asked me for something evocative of illustrations from early/mid-20th century children’s books.

This is the thumbnail sketch from which I originally planned to work (usually my thumbnail sketches look a little neater):

I had my heart set on that thumbnail, with its (I thought) rather neat circular composition, and the framing of the man and the thylacine (Tasmanian tiger), but it wouldn’t come together. I redid it and redrew it and looked for more reference and wished I had a man to pose and finally had a minor meltdown, sat down and did two small pen and ink pictures, one of which became the final.

Here is the cover in progress (you can see it larger by clicking on the picture and going through to its Flickr page):

ASIM 51 - Cover Process

That is the original pen and ink drawing at the top left, as I scanned it in. I layered it with a scan of an old page (from Janet’s Winter in Quebec, I think) and put in the shadows. Then I added further layers of fairly soft colour. The list of contributors would cover the tiger, but that was deliberate – a lot of Thoraiya’s story is about vanishing.

I also coloured the other pen sketch, which I posted back in April: This is not the cover you are looking for. It was much brighter.

I’ll put up another post soon with thoughts on drawing the internal black and white illustrations.

There's a Dalek in my Bedroom

This is one for the Australians, or at least those who grew up with Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner’s classic There’s a Sea in my Bedroom. This is the ninth installment in the Dalek Game.

I am not a beach-going Australian. I grew up inland.  My younger sister and I learnt to swim in concrete cattle troughs (lying under the water to grab the noses of unwitting cows) and in the dams (one of which was allegedly bottomless, and all of which were said by my father to be inhabited by bunyips, which liked eating children but were scared away if there were adults in the vicinity). Sometimes we would go and stay in my father’s godmother’s house at the Gold Coast (it was built by her father, a ship’s captain I think, with narrow steep stairs and porthole windows and a big clam shell for washing sandy feet), but that was a 6 hour drive. The first time my younger sister walked over the dunes and saw the sea she said, “Look, Daddy! What a big dam!” I like the sea, but I find it large and unfamiliar and unsettling, and prefer to walk along the sand – I have a lot of sympathy for the hero of There’s a Sea…, and now that I’ve grown up I’ve bought a new copy to replace the one I lost.

In other news, I have lost my voice (a great trial because I Need To Talk), and have put up all my drawings from Sydney: Part 1, Part 2

Illustration Friday: Asleep

So… the poppies from the Wizard of Oz. Pen and ink with colour and texture added on the computer. The dress is from the movie, but the shoes are the silver shoes from the original book.

Mari Ness on Tor.com did a fabulous series of posts rereading the original Oz books here: Oz.

In other news: I’ve put up my sketches from Sydney (Part 1 and Part 2), the Dalek Game is up to 8 comics, I am home with no voice (an unfamiliar sensation for me, although it did pass through a low, sultry stage which was quite attractive), I am working on projects, I’ve finished the first draft of a new story (working title: “Very Private Property”) and my mother made me watermelon jam for my birthday.

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