USA


Part Two: Dartmoor

Part Three: Iceland

As usual, this is a best-bits version of the trip, where “best-bits” = anything that stayed still long enough to be sketched. You should be able to see a larger version of the pictures by clicking on them, which in most cases will take you through to their Flickr page.

So: Once upon a time it was almost winter in Brisbane, as you can tell by… the shawl on the left hand page, I guess. Then I flew north. I am reliably informed that was the only cold week Brisbane had this winter.

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At the airport I drew various hi-vis dramas out on the tarmac. This is one of my favourite things to draw.

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On the aeroplane, I drew Cinderella-Die Hard mashups but that is for another post.

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In LA, I stayed with Katharine (aka The Fictator: a lot of you don’t know her but you should) and in a surprise to absolutely no-one we talked about books and stories and old movies. She was the best person to stay with in LA because she actively loves its geology, geography, history and likes driving. She took me to very odd museums, such as the cumulatively bewildering Museum of Jurassic Technology which feels like it was created by the protagonists of Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and had Borges in the bookstore.

We also went to the Last Bookstore.

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California is full of palm trees. Someone should have warned me. I got Josh Ritter’s California stuck in my head.

 

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NEW YORK! I like New York. I like the New York in which my friends live. Ellen and Delia sent me to the theatre (Something Rotten and Fun Home, the latter with Eliza and Karen), took me to the theatre (Shuffle Along) and to Klezmer concerts. I accidentally wandered into a theatre reading.

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I ate pastry with editors and lunches with art directors and found my pictures at the Society of Illustrators! (Thanks Irene, Miriam and Christine!IMG_0104
Genevieve took me to the Museum of the Moving Image and (almost as importantly) a grilled cheese cafe. We both promptly downloaded Ginger Rogers and the Mystery of the Scarlet Cloak.IMG_0079

 

Then a final evening of wine and chocolate among the New York rooftops before I caught the train to Massachusetts to stay with Kelly and Gavin.


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We had a lot of pool parties in Massachusetts. And writing, of course! It was a pretty productive week: workshopping novels and reading manuscripts and finishing illustrations off for Small Beer Press. I also met Cassie’s Scottish Fold, Maggie, a beautiful creature who regarded me with deep suspicion. And of course the writing barn which is even prettier than this article makes out.

 

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This were some of my notes from a workshop with Holly.

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Then: Readercon! It was my first Readercon, and I had a grand time, catching up with and meeting many very excellent people and lying around talking about theatre and Sayers, Broadway and Dunnett. If I try to list everyone I will (a) sound like I’m namedropping and (b) forget people.

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I moderated two panels, was on a third and gave a reading from my Masters novella-in-progress.

And the next day, I left for England.

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Next: Dartmoor

Note: If you’d like to see more detail, just click on an image. You should go through to its Flickr page where you can look at a larger version of it.

The first part of the report is at Part 1 – New York, New York

I caught the bus from New York to Boston, through hours of autumn foliage. Here are some tree sketches from a moving vehicle, trying to approximate colour with a limited range of pens, and to catch the shape and pattern of leaves from a distance and at speed.

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Boston! Where the squirrels are tough and muscular and will beat you up for food. Also, Leif Erikson.

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A visit with Theodora Goss, full of books and fairytales. Then off to the Goya exhibition at the MFA! It is always striking to see paintings in the life. In the case of the Goyas, there was such a wonderful, candid, intense, scribbly nature to the art – both texture (ink and engravings) and air. The Family of the Infante Don Luis is enchantingly candid, like a photo during the setup for a family photoshoot – some are posed, some are wandering in or distracted by an adjustment, one man grins directly at the viewer…

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Francisco de Goya. The Family of the Infante Don Luis de Borbón. 1783

Lively and all of them full of more than one story – full of story.

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(I also visited the Jamie Wyeth exhibit, but was running out of time so only sketched one seagull).Goya, o guarda-sol

I then visited my first Blick Art Materials store, which was marvellous. Fortunately, I was travelling light on this leg, having sent my luggage ahead with Kelly to Northampton.  And on Thursday evening, I took the ferry to Salem.

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Halloween is an interesting time to visit Salem! Between the costumes, the views of early colonial American history are frequent and fascinated me because the visual vocabulary is so different from the corresponding period in Australia. Our European images really start off with Georgian aesthetics.

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Here is the detail of some notes on the progression of gravestones – the skull-and-wings which is most common in the earlier, pragmatic, puritan, ‘in the midst of life we are in death’, and is replaced by romantic imagery of angels, willows and urns.

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The Nathanael Mather inscription “an aged person that had seen but nineteen winters in the world” was used by Hawthorne in one of his stories, but I am not entirely sure what it means.

Next, the Peabody Essex Museum, which was full of small wonders, and a brace of brave figureheads.

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A lovely little velocipede. And I did visit the House of the Seven Gables, of interest for many reasons, including that the restoration for tourists was based on a novel rather than the history of the book, and is old enough (over 100 years) to of itself be of historical interest.

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By now it was Halloween properly. I sat out on the sidewalk with the neighbours to man a candy table in the cold (we had warming beverages), then went out to roam the streets, eat deep-fried confectionary and sketch costumes.

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Next in the series is Part Three: Western Massachusetts and World Fantasy Convention

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This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. thumbnail

General notes: This is Part 2 of my sketchbook – Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here. These are sketches with (mostly) Pitt Artist Pens in a little Moleskine sketchbook. You can see larger versions by clicking on the pictures, which will take you through to their Flickr page.

So then I flew to San Francisco, where Katharine and Matt collected me at the baggage carousel, having recognised me from behind based on my hair in my sketches of myself.

We wandered the streets, ate in Chinatown and the next morning went to Alcatraz, where we made up facts and discussed possible adventures which could take place on the island. Escape from Alcatraz with Evil Clowns?

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(more…)

General notes: This is Part 2 of my sketchbook – Part 1 is here, and Part 3 is here. These are sketches with (mostly) Pitt Artist Pens in a little Moleskine sketchbook. You can see larger versions by clicking on the pictures, which will take you through to their Flickr page.

Here we begin with me hiring a bicycle in Toronto in order to get to the Merrill collection. I did not fall off. From Toronto, Jannie and I drove to Altoona, Pennsylvania for Illuxcon 5, which does not have the most up-to-date website but was jewel of a convention for fantasy illustrators, and a brave new world for me.

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(more…)

In less than 12 hours I should be on the plane to America and Canada for the World Fantasy Convention and Illuxcon. I am… packed? And have art for the art show (with only one week’s notice – this may have broken some of the laws of physics but my local cutter-of-mat-board is a superhero).

 Also, I am veering from blind panic to anticipation, which is encouraging:

I will post if I can while I am travelling – if you follow me on Twitter or are friends on Facebook, I may also post quick updates and photos there. Until I return, however, the Daleks and Illustration Friday pictures must languish on the desktop.

And if you are at either World Fantasy or Illuxcon, please say hello! WFC is my first overseas convention and Illuxcon my first illustration convention, and I will know far fewer faces than usual.

I’m in a magazine.

More later.

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  1. I had an epiphany at a Turner exhibit – the importance of boldness. This was the biggest lesson: to be bold in terms of time, line and materials. I have always tended to pale, tentative sketches. The limitations of time and materials forced me to far less subtlety, and I think that is a good thing. You can get away with a lot more if you do it with confidence and flair. I’m still working on both of these, but I am aware of the difference now.
  2. To appreciate markers and coloured pencils. Not always like, but appreciate.
  3. The joy of having the book constantly up to date.
  4. Paying attention to little scenes. I remember places keenly because of a knitting girl or a moldy pumpkin.
  5. People complicate travel sketching. I am conscious of their possible reaction (both to my sketching and to others’ reactions), time constraints, the need to move at a joint pace rather than individual, the vagueness it lends my half of conversations. I need to practice drawing in company and to stop being rritated by conversations which on drawing time.
  6. I have become much more comfortable with drawing/sketching from life and have continued this in other sketchbooks since returning.
  7. I like having a visual record. It is more legible than handwriting alone, I look back at it more frequently than a written journal, and I think it is more self-contained and interesting than a photo album alone.
  8. I feel less self-conscious about inviting people to look at sketchbook than at photo albums. This is partly vanity and partly because I am never convinced people actually want to look at photos (and I have to sit there and explain them).

Knitting at Books of Wonder

Next time I will:

  1. Take less.
  2. Ignore perfection – better at all than never.
  3. Draw more.
  4. Be bold.
  5. Make hi-res scans the first time around (still, better at all than never).

Painting Ghandi
The other parts:

And the journal itself is up as a set on Flickr: USA 2007 Moleskine.

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