Illustration Friday: Temptation

Illustration Friday: Temptation

This week’s Illustration Friday picture began as a technique practice/reset between jobs, but I lost track of what I had originally planned on doing and got carried away (not for the first time) with Janet luring Tam out into the daylight in the ballad “Tam Lin“.

I do appreciate that Janet always knows exactly what she’s doing. I do not require this of all my heroines, but Janet is so beautifully consistent. “Oh I forbid you maidens all who wear gold in your hair/To come or go by Carterhaugh, for young Tam Lin is there.” The story opens with a prohibition, which Janet consistently and deliberately flouts, while Tam is simply caught up by events (and Janet).

She should also be wearing green, but this is Janet, so “should” may be safely ignored.

This is pencil with digital colour and assorted textures. One day I will remember to make a cleaner layer of flat colour, because I do enjoy getting the flats to ‘read’ well. I ran these flats through Inkscape to tidy them up a bit for public viewing:

Illustration Friday: Temptation - simplified flat colour

Illustration Friday: Natural

Illustration Friday: Natural - roses

If there is one thing that I have learned from fairytales, it is that roses are naturally bad for you.

Nettles, on the other hand, may be what saves you.

Illustration Friday: Natural - nettles

Illustration Friday: Time

Illustration Friday: Time

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.

How art happens

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.

Illustration Friday: Time 2

I have returned!


I am back, I am dealing with jet lag which I never adequately believed in before, the sketchbook is scanned and I will begin posting it shortly.

However, to begin with, many congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the World Fantasy Award, and of course particular to Vincent Chong, winner of the Artist category with his sepia-soaked, textured worlds, and to my fellow nominees Didier Graffet and Dave Senior, with their clean effective design, J.K. Potter‘s dark collections and Chris Roberts‘ bright nightmares.

Silk shawls


I’ve been learning to stitch a rolled-hem for two shawls I’ve wanted to make for some time. A few people have asked for the designs, so I’ve made them public on my Spoonflower page.

The first is the cover art for Midnight and Moonshine (print it centred across two yards):

Midnight and Moonshine cover

The other is “Round Eternal”, one of the pieces for the art show last month (print it centred on one yard for a square scarf):

Round Eternal

Once Upon a Time opening!

Self, in front of art

Self, in front of art

The art show has opened! One of my work colleagues took this photo of me in front of my pieces – all cut black paper. I scratched a couple of frames due to bad packaging and had to go back in yesterday morning to replace them, but otherwise all went smoothly.

The show closes down on the morning of Sunday 25 August, but is open all this week from 10-6 every day at 10 Bailey Street, West End (Brisbane).

Here is a glimpse inside my sketchbook, when I was developing ideas.


More photos from the opening night are here on Facebook.

Ilustration Friday: Myth

Illustration Friday: Myth

So I arrived home from work, in the rain, and promptly thought, “I know what I should do, after I eat these eggs and some roast beef with mustard! I should design and cut out an entire A3 silhouette picture!” As it is, this is as good as it gets tonight – tomorrow, after I resharpen the knife and regain sensation in the relevant fingers, I will tidy up the furry bits, and maybe add a touch more detail if the recipient (this is also in payment of an IOU) thinks suitable.

It says:

Once upon a time (but “once” is always & ever after)

And fortunately that last curl of vine adds a nice closing bracket because otherwise I would have completely forgotten to add one in. But otherwise the letters appear to be in the correct order, yes? and facing the right way? Because I lettered them straight onto the reverse and didn’t check in a mirror, and at this point my ability to read is questionable.

Illustration Friday: Teacher, and a Frog Prince pattern

Illustration Friday: Teacher

Pencil sketches for “Teacher”, with a touch of digital colour (you should be able to see a larger version by clicking on the picture)). The badger is of course Badger of Wind in the Willows, “learning” the denizens of the Wild Wood. The question mark is for Rudyard Kipling’s six honest serving men.

And here as a bonus is another attempt at a repeating pattern (all digital, but working off this very useful set of analogue instructions). I like the idea of a fairytale print, but there needs to be more going on. This forms too obvious a grid.

Frog Prince

I may develop it further. Here is a pencil and digital sketch for another scene and style:

Frog Prince

Illustration Friday: Hitched

Illustration Friday: Hitched

This is a quick comic treatment of a scene from a fairytale – pen and ink with digital colouring (experimenting further with limited tones). I’d expand the fairytale further, but it taps into so many you can probably invent a satisfactory setting for the scene – that is one of the beauties of the rules of fairytales (and, as Chesterton would have it, the ethics of Elfland). The two sketches at the bottom are of the same character at other stages of her story.

The header for May, below (and, if you are reading this in May, above) is a side-effect of gazing deeply into Pauline Baynes illustrations, for nefarious purposes to be revealed in the fullness of time.

May Header / Illustration Friday: Hitched

In other news: I have paid for my tickets to North America in November! Rough itinerary is: Erie, Toronto, Altoona, maybe-possibly-Washington, Lafayette (Denver? I need to work out where my grandmother lives), San Francisco, so if you lurk along that route or go to World Fantasy or Illuxcon you can jump out and force coffee upon me (consider it a pre-emptive strike, as I am likely to do the same to you). Also I have just finished erasing all the pencil lines from a book cover and 13 internal spot-illustrations, and am avoiding scanning an A3 picture on an A4 scanner. Also I have started, wincingly, a very preliminary read-through of my LAM (Large Amorphous Manuscript). Also there is a baby gecko (its body is less than an inch long) sitting on my desk watching me. Always watching…

The Dalek Service

The Dalek Service

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Alan Garner‘s novel The Owl Service. My feeling about this book are unformed, which suggests I read it first for a class… genre fiction at uni, I suspect. I probably wrote very profound things about Alan Garner’s worldview as it found expression in the text. From this remove, I remember the owl-eyed figure on the cover, the thrill of forgotten things found in attics (always a Famous Five feeling to that) and of course the story of Blodeuwedd, transformed from flowers to woman to owl and never entirely one or the other.

I like that legend, primarily for the flowers and owls. Off the top of my head, however, I can think of few stories based on it. The bird/woman element is there in Ladyhawk, but that is a romance. The main person-to-owl image I have is that of the Goblin King in Labyrinth. On slight provocation, I’d be prepared to argue that there are thematic resonances with The Yellow Wallpaper. But the legend is a beautiful story as well as a terrible one.

It’s been on my mind lately because I am working on a – well, either a long short story or a novelette, depending on what the flensers do to it – which had as its basis another human/bird story, to which I added elements of Blodeuwedd. I have, however, a sneaking suspicion that while I like “Tam Lin” for the characters, I am trying to work Blodeuwedd into something just so I can draw feathers and flowers.