I have spent the long weekend working on a book cover, so decided to play around disguising some existing pieces for this little piece of Illustration Friday camouflage: a painting from two weeks ago, a favourite coffee-and-ink texture which I rarely get to use, and some new tendrils of cut-paper, combined and altered in Photoshop Elements with some snowflakes on top. The image itself is from a combination of several fairytales – stars and ghosts and forests…
Some initial capitals, in scratchboard with digital colour, for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, “Beginning“. They are, as usual, test pieces for another larger project, but I chose the letters based on what I thought were the first letters of some recent poems. I managed to get one completely wrong.
Last week, Terri Windling held a winter poetry challenge on her blog. Below are three of my contributions. The first, on bears, I posted with the last Illustration Friday picture. One other is not here because it turns out it did not start with the letter “I”. So I have a spare capital and a poem to post later. If you are a fan of poetry, illustration, myths, fables or fairytales, I recommend checking out the posts – there are many more poems in the comments.
(Theme: Snow White, and a memory of first encountering a landscape out of fairytales)
hen apple trees scrabbled to view,
Above a wall, boughs half-unleaved,
Heavy with portent and truth,
All bronze and pewter, I believed.
When garnet, pomegranate fruit,
Struck at my heart, I almost grieved.
(The castles only ever were
Sprung from some wild dream-aquifer).
Snow falling from the mirrored sky,
Softened the blow. But then when I
Saw winter forests spider-grey
All webbed and knotted out of view,
(So little space to struggle through),
I knew the stories all were true.
(Theme: Deer in Fairy Tales, Folklore and Myth, which fit with recent research on legends of white deer for another project)
e do not say we saw a deer. We saw
The starlight slanting through rain-silvered leaves
The mist lift off the lake, owls through the trees
Glide white and silent. This, and nothing more.
We do not say we saw a figure pale
Among the rushes, long-limbed, loitering.
We saw the rushes only, rustling,
The thin frost freezing to a glassy veil.
We do not speak of tracks that, seen too near,
Appear to change from hooves to naked feet.
We do not speak of strangers whom we meet –
Such questions only ever cost too dear.
We keep an older law:
These two have always been
Separate: What you have seen
And what you say you saw.
ut of rumour and night,
Blood and bone,
Something knotted and gnarled
Had sprouted and grown.
A tree climbed out of a heart.
It may have been
Oak or ash or elder,
Or else from a dream –
When the crown of gold and scarlet
Tarnished to grey
The branches clutched at sky.
Something had flown away.
My current art warm-up exercise is painting this year’s calendar – free-handed ink and gouache with a liberal dash of gold acrylic – and the stories for these four months all involve searching: sisters for brothers, brave lassies for lovers, mothers for daughters…
The girl on the bear is generally from the story “East of the Sun, West of the Moon“, which I had in mind because of Terri Windling’s winter poetry challenge, and yesterday’s topic, which was bears. The post is full of fairytale art, and the comments of poetry.
Australia is bearless, but my mother is more-or-less from Colorado and we were raised in Western Queensland on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, as well as fairytales (and my father telling us to run outside because bears had come in the night, we could still see bare footprints around the house), so this is my poem:
Bears My Mother Brought With Her
The bears that haunted
Nights and sleep,
The bears that spread
Their skins for warmth
In covered-wagon dreams,
That kept the dark
Soft-furred and deep,
That left their mark
On trackless dust,
The bears that must
Have haunted trees
And granite hills,
From northern lips
The bare and bearless
And fallen on this thin divide,
Have ranged like cattle in the dusk,
Left stories like a trace of musk,
Carried the frost off like a bride
On broad translucent labouring shoulders,
Lichened like boulders –
And we, who never saw a bear,
We never doubted they were there.
And here is another digital sketch, of the end of a search:
All photos are by Bush Turkey Studio.
Last year, Emily, one of my Auchenflower housemates, was married and I was delighted to be asked to design her invitations with a fairytale/woodland theme.
Here are the first pencil roughs:
And the final design – pen and ink, with digital colour.
There were also two little foxes on the back of the invitation – now also available as stickers from Redbubble (separate stickers – one is only upside down in order to fit):
It looked like such an enchanting wedding.
I was playing around with gouache paints and fallen leaves for Illustration Friday, this week’s topic for which is “Time”. For writing-related reasons, I’ve been thinking on time passing by people sleeping in flowers and forests and leaves – Sleeping Beauties, Rip Van Winkles and lost children covered up by birds.
Here is my housemate Aimee obligingly posing for reference photos while I stand on the coffee-table.
I do like the textures of gouache, although I am still getting used to how dark it dries. I’d like to try this again and play with tones more – I’ve seen a few monochromatic pieces recently which glow.
I’ve never painted frequently enough to be really familiar and confident with it, so I get frustrated when I force myself not to use lines, and then am surprised by the way a bit of rough paint in the right place can unexpectedly work. Just the way a rough pen line can still get a message across.
My reward for the next stage of editing the Large Amorphous Manuscript may be a painting class.
Here is the other little study.
Running home to the arms of Illustration Friday with this pencil and watercolour sketch.
Illustration Friday provided almost the only structure to my early illustration education, with its regular topics from Somewhere Outside My Own Head. It has been crowded out recently by illustration work, but I do miss it.
On the writing front, I am doggedly revising the Large Amorphous Manuscript, so expect to see more hunting horns and people in green showing up in idle drawings.
And in other news: All the sketchbook pictures from the Norway/UK trip are up, beginning here.