Pen and ink with digital wash and texture. A quick Illustration Friday post before I dash off to brave the wilds myself.
Dalek Game update: The Dalek Game has almost reached its anniversary, and from now on I plan to post one Dalek a week – probably on Mondays. I have enough to keep going for a while (there are a lot of books in the world) but would like to post the odd other project, such as a series of occasional author portraits which I have been doing for Angela Slatter and Lisa Hannett, and perhaps the odd duck comic. And also sleep.
In other news: Sleep? What is this sleep of which you speak?
This instalment of the Dalek Game is for L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I used to struggle with that book and the miniseries. My whole family loved it, but I do not like watching people inevitably humiliate themselves. I cringe for them, and it took a long time for me to get past Anne’s various outbursts (I had the same problem with the movie The Castle). In particular, I couldn’t stay to watch when she hits Gilbert with her slate. I also resented the “write what you know” message in both Anne and other books, such as What Katy Did (although, having since read actual Gothic fiction, the advice in both cases was extremely well placed).
A combination of aversion therapy and self-reflection eventually got me to the point where I now think the story beautiful – I read it out loud to my father a few years ago and by the end we were both in tears. My mother walked through the room from time to time and laughed at us.
Trying out different approaches to cover, preparation for some upcoming work. The illustration above is all digital (using a coffee-and-ink texture I made last year). The one below (which I prefer – I like the clear lines of ink better than softer digital in general) is pen and ink with digital colour – the only texture is from the drawing paper.
Possibly I prefer the one below because I would like that sweater.
Edit: Aim for next week is to get the picture up before the topic changes over.
This instalment of the Dalek Game is (by repeated request of a friend at work) for Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
I spent this last weekend at Runaway Bay, where the MS Society owns a house with a jetty right on the broadwater, in sight of Crab Island and South Stradbroke Island. Pelicans sail in to land on the jetty, seagulls hover ominously in mid-air, sand crabs bead the beach with balls of sand, sailing schools flock by – capsizing each other and the jet-skiers – and on Sunday a dozen or more dolphins went by. I spent a great deal of the weekend (when not on airport runs!) talking with my father, reciting Banjo Patterson poems (with an emphasis on the Saltbush Bill poems) and reading Tom Sawyer out loud. This, of course, is where the enviably outcast Huck Finn puts in his first appearances, with his corncob pipe, dead cat and infallible cure for warts. We reached the part where the three boys (including Finn the Red-Handed) have stolen a raft and taken off to the island for a life of piracy, and probably would have read further, except that of course the piracy comes after the chapter in which Tom gives in to Peter the cat’s pleas to try Aunt Polly’s patent Pain-killer, and proceeds to prance around the room ‘proclaiming his unappeasable happiness’. We read that twice.
I know I have read Huckleberry Finn at some point, or more probably Mommy read it out loud to us. The only parts I remember are the warning at the beginning and the first line (which are famous) and the scene where Huck is dressed as a girl and is found out because of the way he either threads a needle or catches a dropped one – possibly both (that I remember for the detail). I remember the raft crossing the stage in Big River when my father took me to see the musical. But the younger Huck and the gloriously overwrought (but so finely observed) adventures of Tom Sawyer we read many times. The chapter about the Pain-killer (“I done it out of pity for him – because he hadn’t any aunt”) and the pinch-bug in church (“By this time the whole church was red-faced and suffocating with suppressed laughter”) were particular favourites, and along with Henry Lawson’s “The Loaded Dog” and the joust between King Pellinore and Sir Grummore in T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone were stand-by chapters for when we had visitors.
In other news: Mostly I am working on a pile of illustrations, which are very exciting but also very due and frequently require awkward reference photography. And my comic “Finishing School” in Steampunk! has been nominated for an Aurealis Award!!
This instalment of the Dalek Game is, again, for Edward Gorey – this time his horrible little Gothic alphabet The Gashlycrumb Tinies. I find Gorey beautifully unsettling: never twee and rarely grotesque, his beautifully drawn miniature worlds of world-weary horror and Gothic ennui are so terribly, terribly civilised.
In other news: First glimpse of the cover of To Spin a Darker Stair (but there’s more to come…)
This was a test of new ink (happy), paper (pretty happy) and nib (much larger and less yielding than I’m used to). The texture was added digitally but is part of one I made with ink and coffee last year. The illustration is for A. E. Housman’s poem, “God’s Acre“:
This hopeless garden that they sow
With the seeds that never grow…
Evidently I once knew Housman’s poems very well – I was certain this was from A Shropshire Lad, but it’s from a much later (manuscript?) collection, all of which are still very familiar too me. Often bleak, sometimes spoilers for Sayer’s novels, but also beautiful. Not my first Housman illustration, either.
Bonus weeping angel, of course, but no Dalek this time.