Little bits left over at the end of the week

22-29 Jan on Twitter etc

22-29 Jan on Twitter etc

Bitterwood Bible - spine image

  • A reminder of the long-ago, beautiful happening that was picturebookreport.com – you may recognise some of the names involved! This was where I fell in love with Kali Ciesemier’s vision of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and with Sam Bosma’s art for The Hobbit, and one of the earliest examples that really had an impact on me, of people Not Sitting On Their Hands But Putting Things Out In The World (quote more or less from Karen Beilharz’s original Plan to Take over the World, which was another example at roughly the same time). Putting Things Out In The World is a very important artistic practice!
  • I learned a lot at the time from Sam Bosma’s posts on the process of illustrating The Hobbit – just this week I went back to find his description of working with colour flats to explain them to another artist. But whether you love The Hobbit, beautiful finished artwork, process posts or lots and lots of sketches of goblins, that series of posts remain worth a look.
  • The final episode of Tremontaine has been released! At least, for this season…

Tremontaine episode 13 cover

  • Based on the title alone, I am very excited about the new Serial Box series The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, created by Lindsay Smith and Max Gladstone, and written by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis and Michael Swanwick. The first episode is out and free! (text and audio)
  • Milli and Fink screenprinting workshops are up again (Ipswich, Queensland) – I did one of these a few years ago (post: Screen printing) and it was great: http://www.milliandfink.bigcartel.com.
  • If you ever describe a painting in your writing, the descriptions of art in this article are loving, funny & effective: The Emergence of the Winter Landscape. Also, lots of medieval snowball fights. (h/t Sydney Padua)
  • I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.EB White
  • I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost.EB White

Introducing Team Mist: Nicole Gustafsson

Nicole Gustafsson is the second member of Light Grey Art Lab‘s 2016 Iceland Residency: Team Mist to volunteer to be introduced! Previous interviews are all linked on this post: Iceland.

Nicole Gustafsson

Nicole Gustafsson

K: What lights you up about what you do?

Nicole: I love it when I lay out  gouache paint in little dots on my paint pallet…and they look like the most delicious candy. I get excited every time I see those little dots and can’t wait to paint.

K: Do you have an example?

Nicole:

Nicole Gustafsson's palette

Nicole Gustafsson’s palette

K: And where can we find you? 

Nicole: My website is nimasprout.com. Though I’m under everything as “nimasprout” so folks can always find me on all the other social networks too :)

Introducing Team Mist: Alexandria Neonakis

Alexandria Neonakis is the first member of Light Grey Art Lab‘s 2016 Iceland Residency: Team Mist to volunteer to be introduced!

Alexandria Neonakis

Alexandria Neonakis

K: What lights you up about what you do?

Alexandria: I love it when something accidental happens in a piece that really helps with whatever narrative i’m trying to get across. When it happens, it feels like everything’s clicking nicely into place.

K: Do you have an example? 

Alexandria: This isn’t necessarily my favorite image but the light cutting across the top left and not appearing anywhere else was an accident. I had initially had a bit of light towards the bottom of the image as well, but some layers got turned off and I felt it just sold the story so much better. It also felt like a much bolder choice than my original intention.

Alexandria Neonakis: Weasley Wizard Wheezes

Alexandria Neonakis: Weasley Wizard Wheezes

I also was painting the “extendable ears” sign onto the wall when i came up with the idea that his missing ear wouldn’t have been magically replaced, he probably wears an extendable ear so as not to scare kids who come into the store. then when they ask him a question, he can pull the ear towards them and ask them to speak up.

I really love fleshing out these off-screen moments in a well know story, particularly with Harry Potter which has been a huge influence on me for most of my life. I know fan art gets a lot of flack, but I feel there’s a real place for it, and it’s often a nice gateway for people to start exploring their own narratives. It certainly has been for me.

K: Where can we find you?

Alexandria: My tumblr is alexneonakis.tumblr.com  and my website is alexneonakis.com :)

A few pieces of news

  • I am walking around again and mostly not using a cane! The moral of the story: never mop.

FoilforWeb

“The world Slatter has created feels perfectly poised on the cusp of reality, in the same way that Gormenghast, or the twin countries of Guilder and Florin, might just, might almost, just perhaps, have been real–if you squint at them sideways and imagine that somehow the relevant chapters in the history books got themselves skipped in high school…

…there may be undertakers who talk to ghosts, and pirates, and sorcerers, and badgers that change into people and back again, but the emotion, the people, the relationships, the families, and most of all, the loves and the hates, the revenges, the primal centres of these stories: all of this is profoundly real.”

It’s a very true review with some good thoughts about fantasy and the experience of reading in general, but he also refers to “numerous elegant, humane little illustrations”, which for me was one of those epiphanies: “That! That is what I want to do. Oh wait, he was talking about me!”Dust jacket

Diane, by Kat Weaver

  • Alas, Jedediah Berry’s beautiful Untine, a story told by Twitter poll, is completed (with some post-it-note drawings by me)

Owl Baron - Untine

The easiest way to change the wheel…

I promised details of some of the books I bought in Paddington the other weekend. As a warning for the sensitive, this post starts with cars and then gets a little more feminine, but I’ve saved the worst till last.

The first is a guide on car holidays from BP – the artwork is hilariously exuberant, but the advice is sometimes just as enthralling. Note the panel of advice for ladies (a larger version is here), “the easiest way to change the wheel is to find the nearest male”.

BP Holiday Digest

It also helpfully begins its “What to do now you’re bogged” section by telling you everything you probably did wrong to get into that situation.

More advice for ladies comes in the form of the following books on, hem, becoming a woman. The first is You’re a Young Lady Now, a really rather sweet book from Kotex (copyright 1952-3). This copy was printed in Australia, but when my (American) mother saw it she said that it was exactly the same as the one her mother gave her in the ’50s, so we had a nostalgia/feminine bonding session while my father looked on from the sidelines. But… belts? pins? Ladies of my era, be grateful you grew up when you did!

"You're a Young Lady"

Inside, the illustrations are of a cheerful and rather robust girl who doesn’t seem to give up her tomboyish ways altogether in spite of the vicissitudes of impending adulthood. I am intrigued by the perspective in this picture, however. I think it is just so rigorous and yet… something’s missing.

Jeans Girl

However, for all its charm, it does contain such words of wisdom as “You see, many girls imagine they feel worse than they actually do. They get in a dither just by thinking too much about themselves”. (I recently heard PMS explained as follows (I don’t recall where): if men knew that every 27 days someone was going to hit them in the groin with a sledgehammer and there was nothing they could do about it, they would start getting pretty uptight around day 24 too).

Then there is the blue book put out by Modess (“rhymes with Oh Yes”) which contains pictures of girls dancing (not too energetically), riding and washing their hair (not dangerous, but don’t let the water be too hot or cold) and helpfully explains that “one of the main purposes in life of every human being – man or woman – is to create, produce and bring up the next generation”.

Growing Up

But the real horror lies below…

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Small Kingdoms

I have written two fan letters, but there is a third I would have liked to have written. Perhaps I discovered Pauline Baynes at an age when I did not know to think of storytellers as real and separate people – or perhaps she was of an age I assumed had long ago become history. I only really realised today that Pauline Baynes was still alive until a few days ago.

Pauline Baynes’ illustrations are my favourite and the most influential. She taught me to see words and pictures and stories (all stories, I think, as well as those I loved because of her) as deep and beautiful things: windows, not mirrors. Those detailed maps and tiny vignettes frustrated me with their promise – the certainty! – of real and green lands just through the page. I could smell the heather and snow of Narnia, feel the hot winds of Calormene, taste the salt of the seas, know the perils of the far islands and the edge and the end of the world.

Her pictures were not inferior to the stories. They were part of them and half the enchantment. When another hand takes over, Narnia is less and different. When the exuberant marginalia are removed, Farmer Giles loses his charm and good humour and becomes a bawdy ogre.

Pauline Baynes taught me what stories and illustration – simple clear inked lines without colour or dazzle – could be. Allan Lee and John Howe may divide the rest of Middle Earth between them and welcome to it. Hobbiton and Bombadil belong to Pauline Baynes. The hills and farms of the little kingdom (before England had one king), when knights tangled themselves in chain mail and dogs spoke (dog) latin and farmers loaded blunderbusses with old nails and went out in search of hapless but well-spoken dragons – they are all Baynes’ as much as Tolkien’s.

The dying Aslan, the brave mice, Aravis seated cross-legged telling her story, the marshwiggle’s long streak of misery, Susan dancing with Tumnus, Lucy (oh, Lucy!) barefoot on the Dawntreader wearing Caspian’s tunic, Jadis magnificent and mad driving a hansome cab through London – those memories are gifts Lewis could only have given me through Pauline Baynes.

Her pictures did not explain or apologise or merely accompany. They were not aids to the words. They spoke and created and illuminated all those small bright kingdoms and I hope I never come to an age when I cannot take out those books and pore over them, and pour those bright worlds like jewels through my fingers.

All the Wild Wonders: Shaun Tan’s Keynote Address

Page 37

I consciously strive not to be a raving fangirl, with the consequence that I only found out about the CBCA conference the afternoon on which Deb and I were to fly to Melbourne. Shaun Tan’s keynote address was one of two which were open to the public (for a fee) and having consulted the list and been informed by Cat and Sean that it would be worth the fee twice over, I went. At 9am on the first morning in Melbourne*. My striving is not always successful.

And it was.

Shaun’s speech was lucid and humble and wise and personal, illustrated throughout by images cast upon the screen – from first grade drawings (complete with roosting pterodactyls) through paintings from life (more mysterious sometimes than his fantastic pieces), illustrations and covers (Aurealis, Sara Douglas) that I knew (and owned) but did not know were his, to his recent, mysterious, luminous work. The development and changes were striking.

He began by reading “Eric” – a short story about an exchange student from his new book Tales of Outer Suburbia, with the images on the screen behind him. I could quite happily sit and listen to picture/illustrated books this way indefinitely.

He said the major themes in his work were:

  • Fantasy Worlds
  • Real Worlds
  • The Gap of Understanding Between the Two
  • Belonging

Main points from my notes:

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