June 2022 Calendar — wolf boys

Yellow background, with grey-toned images of boys wearing wolf-skin cloaks (and possibly turning into wolves) playing

Note: Want to support the arts? This calendar is made possible by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with alternative colourways, and other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art (patron levels start from US$1): patreon.com/tanaudel. It is also supported by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar: ko-fi.com/tanaudel.

Here is the June calendar! It’s the first of two calendar pages I’m working on with a lighthearted allusion to some of Angela Slatter’s characters. June is wolf boys, for her novel The Path of Thorns, which will be launched next month.  These are perhaps slightly gentler souls than the ones in her novels, but I’ll offset that with the other piece of art.

Photo of hand holding The Path of Thorns book with purple foil lettering
Cover design by Julia Lloyd

The Brisbane launch will be on 17 June — it is free to attend, but you will need to book online here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/meet-angela-slatter-brisbane-square-library-tickets-342553305157

Angela Slatter's The Path of Thorns is beautiful and vicious. Although it is a ruthless, Gothic tale, bright and bitter as poison, cold as a crypt, its chinks are stopped against the bleakest wind with deft, jewel-toned tales, and at its bruised heart, it is as loving and warm as a wolf curled around her cubs.

Here’s a bit of the process behind this calendar art — first rough sketches and then tidier pencils on the iPad, inks with a dip pen and ink. I chose the yellow and grey colour scheme because of a nice 18thc-style pattern in these colours that I managed to find on a doona cover a few years ago. It’s faded now but I found it striking. (It had a design of birds in nests, not wolf boys).

Rough sketch, pencils, inks of the calendar art line work

And here (for personal use) are the printable versions — one pre-coloured and one to colour in yourself. If you like them and/or like supporting artists, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early) at patreon.com/tanaudel (starts at US$1/month) or tip me a few dollars through Ko-Fi: ko-fi.com/tanaudel. Either is greatly appreciated!

Also, I’ve started a mailing list (not a newsletter), if you’d like to keep up with any major announcements: Mailing List Sign-Up

June 2022 calendar. ç
Line-art of June 2022 calendar, with images of boys wearing wolf-skin cloaks (and possibly turning into wolves) playing

Observation Journal: Mapping movements in stories

On these observation journal pages, I was thinking about the way stories interact with the space in which they take place. (This was because of a comment about Travelogues, which is very much about moving through landscape.) But the exercise turned into another way to break apart and consider stories, and find new ways in.

I began by quickly noting down the main locations in some favourite fairy tales, and tracking how characters moved between them (see also: The Usefulness of Template Stories).

Below, you can see Little Red Riding Hood (the version with the river and the washerwomen), Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel (the one with later attempted murders), Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White.

Handwritten page with diagrams of locations and movement between them in a series of fairytales

Charting stories like this highlighted some interesting patterns. The shuttling activity of Cinderella, the concentric, narrowing focus of Sleeping Beauty. The increasing distance from home and outward movement of Rapunzel, the ring-road of Little Red Riding Hood.

It also highlighted the places where other locations were implied but not revealed, and the difference between story movement and that of individual characters. For more on that, see Plotted: A Literary Atlas by Andrew DeGraff and Daniel Harmon and Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies by Andrew DeGraff and A. D. Jameson.

Cinderella in particular amused me.

Ballpoint diagram: home and palace, and arrows going there, back, there, back, there, back, back and there

Looked at this way, the focus of the story became the road between home and palace. So a few days later, I took a closer look:

Handwritten notes on movements between locations specified and implied in Cinderella, with some ballpoint and watercolour sketches

There are several nebulous implied locations (where the stepmother and godmother originate from, for example) — they could be expanded, ellided, or conflated.

Ballpoint and watercolour scribbly sketch of a cottage

And while the road is a key location, there is rarely much time spent on it. What would the story look like from the point of view of observers along the way?

Ballpoint and watercolour sketch of farmers leaning on a gate watching a carriage go past, saying "there they go again"

What about the tension between the landscape passing outside the carriage and the anticipation of the person within it? (Tangentially connected post: bored teens in cars.)

Ballpoint and watercolour scribbly sketch of a carriage crossing a bridge and a woman in a pink dress looking out of a carriage

The next day, I was just playing with tiny maps of Cinderella, for fun:

Handwritten notes on locations in Cinderella, with some maps drawn in ballpoint and coloured marker

But while the earlier charts open up the story, the map forces decisions, from aesthetic and style to the details of the world, the number of bridges the carriage should go across, and therefore the waterways and surrounding geography. At least, they do so if you build the world out from the events of the story.

If you fit a story to an existing geography, draping it over a landscape or running it along known roads, it is mostly the story that changes (and, perhaps, the meaning of the landscape). “Gisla and the Three Favours” (published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet last year) began as an exercise in draping the story of Cinderella over a volcanic landscape, and letting the story change. When writing Flyaway, the process involved introducing several fairy-tale elements to an ill-suited climate and watching them shift — but also letting the mythic weight of those stories become a lens through which to view landscape often written about more cruelly. And Travelogues explicitly involved attaching fantastic and fairy-tale imagery to very real geography and journeys.

I’ve also used this approach when planning and editing a current large project. Here’s a slightly redacted chart of the key locations, to see where movement was concentrated, and where the story opened up or was bottled in.

Map of many messy multicoloured loops between various redacted locations

Here is the same for an early version of an house from the story:

Tiny ballpoint house plan with coloured lines tracking various paths through it

Writing/illustration activity

  • Pick a story (a fairy-tale, a movie with mythic weight, something you’re working on — see The Usefulness of Template Stories).
  • From memory, do a quick rough chart of the key locations, and how characters move between them.
  • Notice and consider:
    • If you notice anything new about the story, or a new angle of approach to it, make a quick note of that.
    • If you wanted to open the story up, make it more claustrophobic, more cosmopolitan or focussed on logistics, what changes could you make to its locations?
  • Write or draw:
    • Are there any locations that don’t get a lot of focus? Implied off-page points of origin (or destination) — where was the woodcutter cutting wood? Heavily trafficked but almost unmentioned roads or driveways? Important outbuildings or waterways (did Sleeping Beauty’s castle have a moat, and what water fed it, and what became of it when everything was overgrown)?
    • Do a quick sketch — written or drawn — of a scene set in that place, or viewed from that point of observation.

Some related posts:

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Ballpoint drawing of a small wheeled suitcase fallen over
From one of the observation pages: my suitcase full of art books for a workshop

All the 2021 calendar pages

Every month (with the support of patrons) I make a printable (and colour-able) calendar page.

And here are all the pages of monthly 2021 calendar art in one place! I’m always a little startled to get to the end of a year and remind myself how much I drew during the year just making these, let alone… everything else. (Here’s the 2020 collection.) I’ve put the individual pages larger at the bottom of this post.

My favourite calendar page keeps shifting. I do very much like the July houses because of the different approach, and the frogs from May because they look velvety. But then the April fairy-tale motifs ended up inspiring the cover design for WQ Magazine. And the fish and waves from February got into two separate projects (illustrations for a secret book and a map for a book that is yet to be announced). But March’s rondels and April’s motifs have proved useful demonstrations for writing workshops.

Then the houses were a useful sampler of styles, but also research for something I’m illustrating and another piece I’m writing (and my mother wanted the line drawing for quilt backing). And all of them were places to try out approaches to surface patterns, or altered techniques, or new tools. And the chairs have been a long time coming, and the chicken-legged houses amuse me…

Note: Want to support the arts? This calendar is made possible by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art (patron levels start at very low amounts!): patreon.com/tanaudel. It is also supported by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar: ko-fi.com/tanaudel. And many of these designs are available as prints, clothes, cases, etc on Redbubble, as fabrics and wallpaper on Spoonflower, and as prints in InPrnt

And below are all the designs, larger:

Continue reading

Observation Journal: In-world surface patterns

This observation journal page features a little exercise in thinking through some thematically appropriate in-world surface patterns for fairy tales.

I’d been making notes, on and off, reminding myself to pay attention to the surfaces of things (in writing as much as drawing), not to forget the human urge to ornament surfaces, the narrative usefulness of surface ornament, and had played some sketching and writing games varying surface detail in stories. (It ties a bit to thoughts on staginess and strong aesthetics too, of course.)

On this page, I picked a couple of fairy tales, and just leaned into what might be story-appropriate ornaments.

First, for Cinderella: pumpkin-coloured brocade, silks hand-painted with vines and doves with beaks the colour of blood, jacquard in gilt & grey like the scales of a lizard, wigs fantastically styled into bowers and coaches, or featuring a real clock that struck the hour.

The second half shifts through several stories:

A deep blue overdress stitched with a full of snowflakes, thickening towards the hem so that no blue remains visible. A bed carved by a master-carver with castles and briars and a girl going off sturdily on some adventure. The back of a rocking-chair carved with a comfortable-looking wolf.

It is all self-referential, but to an extent that adds to the depth and concentration of a small world — and the details could be swapped out where breathing room is needed.

I discovered my default mode was direct references to the story, or foreshadowing. But as I pushed it further, it became wider references to the shape of the world (the importance of glass to fashion at that moment, the tales told within the world). And that of course lets you push further to ask: Who makes these things? What fashions prevail? Who is responsible for the glass, with or without enchantments? Who put these stories in the carvings?

Writing/art exercise

  • Pick a fairy tale (or another story you know well), and a key (or favourite) scene from it.
  • Make a list of important objects and colours and themes from the story as a whole. (Pumpkins and glass and lizards? Newspapers and bicycles and dogs?)
  • Consider that key scene. Where could you add surface ornament? Wallpaper and clothing? Graffiti and paint jobs? Jewellery? T-shirt logos?
  • Make a quick sketch (drawn or written) filling those surfaces with story-appropriate designs, as thematic or literal as you like.
  • Where do they add to the story? Where do they raise questions about the world? Where do they overcomplicate things, or make the world too small or self-aware? Do you like that artificiality, or want to open the world up? (There’s not a wrong answer here, but it’s interesting to feel out the edges of your preferences.)

Observation Journal: Mix and Match

The length of the observation journal pages got thoroughly out of hand in mid-February.

Two densely handwritten pages from the observation journal. The first has notes on things seen, heard, and done on 10 February 2020. The second mixes and matches elements of Pride and Prejudice and Little Red Riding Hood.

Left page: Magpies and the doppler effect of lawn mowers, and how memory is stored in places.

A drawing of a man trying to mow very long grass.

Right page: Most ways I have of breaking things open and/or finding ideas involve knocking two stories (or other things) together until something interesting falls out. In this case, I was trying to formalise that approach. It spilled over into another double-page spread, and the conclusion that this is a process that works better in motion.

A close-up of the Pride & Prejudice and Little Red Riding Hood page.

The basic idea is to mix and match two stories. There are a few ways to do this, including:

  • Looking for resonances (intriguing and useful, but particularly for express reworkings of a story);
  • Randomising or forcibly mismatching all the elements (interesting but hard work if I don’t want to default to a mash-up/repurposing, which isn’t my favourite thing);
  • Picking one pair of elements that aren’t an obvious match, pairing them up, and then following the consequences.

The last one is my favourite, and it’s useful for drawing and choosing textures, doing close readings, and playing with stories. For instance, making Mary Bennett from Pride and Prejudice the Little Red Riding Hood of a story forces a careful consideration of her relationships to other characters — and she doesn’t have many. (I like to use a version of Little Red Riding Hood that involves her getting away from the wolf and running over a river on sheets stretched by washerwomen, but in the case of Pride & Prejudice the best thing for Mary is (explicitly) finally being away from her sisters.)

Making Rochester of Jane Eyre a Little Red Riding Hood and committing to that misreading once turned into a whole story (“The Wolves of Thornfield Hall, variations on a theme”,  Eleven Eleven Journal #19, 2015). There’s a lot of material to work with.

Here’s the first half of the second double-page spread (the last page turned into a story outline which is still in progress).

A handwritten page matching up elements of Twelve Dancing Princesses with aspects of Little Women.

In this case, I was listing the elements of the key story (“The Twelve Dancing Princesses”), looking for a corresponding element in the target story (“Little Women”), then finding echoes, and looking for imagery to enhance on that basis. This has a bit less character exploration in it, and isn’t as useful academically as an outright misreading, but it is really useful for playing up thematic and visual elements, choosing metaphors, and getting a source of coherent and consistent vocabulary and tone — more on this in future pages (or it’ll be familiar if you’ve done a narrative imagery workshop with me).

But codifying the ideas, while a useful distraction from… whatever I was meant to be doing, or possibly just from mid-February, isn’t as exciting as picking up the thread of an idea, the first interesting element, and running with it — pulling it until it unravels, or wandering off into other paths entirely, and following dancing princesses to see where they go in search of new adventures.

A drawing of a demure princess in a high-waisted dress.

Art/writing exercise

This exercise is fun for practising close-reading, spurious argument, and description. But allow yourself at the least provacation to bound away chasing some new and marvellous idea:

  1. Pick two rather different stories. For example:
    • pick two unrelated stories you’re familiar with (perhaps a favourite novel and the last fairy tale you saw referenced)
    • or try, for example, something like choosing the first and last movies you remember seeing in a cinema — for me this would be The Hunt for Red October and Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears and I have no regrets,
    • or take a story you love but that isn’t like the genre you work in, and a story you are currently trying to write or draw.
      In the example on the page above I had just watched the new Little Women and picked “Twelve Dancing Princesses” as the second story in an effort to tear myself away from using “Little Red Riding Hood”.
  2. Jot down the key characters (or places, or objects) from the first story.
  3. Match them up with elements in the second (randomly, or use less-obvious matches).
    E.g., here, I made Marmee stand in for Princesses 2-11.
  4. Work out what the resonances between those elements are or could be (even if it’s a bit of a stretch — this is the fun part).
    E.g., with Marmee (as with the intermediate princesses) she’s there and part of the story, but not obviously instigating or obviously primary to the narrative, but also manages to create a sense of abundance.
  5. Consider how you could describe or paint those characters (or places, or objects) in the second story to bring out those resonances — using, for example, observations or language or textures from the first story).
    E.g., I’ve just written “treasured, ornamented” here, because I was being seized with an Idea

July Calendar: Sew a fine seam

Note: This calendar is supported by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art: patreon.com/tanaudel, and also by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar: paypal.me/tanaudel

For July, here are threads and bobbins and awls and wax, and the daily tools so often adjacent to fairy tales: bodkins for poisoned lacings, winders to hold the thread for clues, needles and pins to choose your path by…

There are no scissors, because I wanted this to tie in to the scissors calendar from November last year. I kept the colour scheme, but added pink (for the clover flowers and other details). And I’ve had a few requests for a repeating pattern for the scissors, so I’ll try to do both at once. I’ll let you know when they’re up. In the meantime, both this design and Scissors are up on Redbubble as prints, masks, cushions, etc.

And here (for personal use) are the printable versions. If you like them and like supporting the arts, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early) at patreon.com/tanaudel (starts at US$1/month!) or through the tip jar at paypal.me/tanaudel.

June Calendar: Ominous Groves

Note: This calendar is supported by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art: patreon.com/tanaudel, and also by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar: paypal.me/tanaudel

For the June calendar — a series of ominous little groves, each with their own story — some allusive and some elusive.

(This one, above, is the sketch from the post More Legs Than Strictly Necessary).

And here (for personal use) are the printable versions. If you like them and like supporting the arts, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early at) patreon.com/tanaudel (starts at $1/month!) or through the tip jar at paypal.me/tanaudel.

May unicorns

May-Calendar-art-lowres

Note: This calendar is supported by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art: patreon.com/tanaudel, and also by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar: paypal.me/tanaudel

A little joy, if twilit, for May: a frolic of evening unicorns.

These are just because it had been a few years since the last unicorn calendar. I’d revisited some old silhouette unicorns recently, and started drawing them in the margins of my notebook, and the design is always an interesting one to play with. These are a bit horsier than usual — I think my favourite approach starts moving past goat into greyhound.

And it’s also up as a print and a repeating pattern on Redbubble on cushions, throws, clothes, etc: Twilight Unicorns. (Spoonflower to follow, but I have to wait for the sample swatches to arrive). Edit: It is now up on Spoonflower as fabric and wallpaper.

And here (for personal use) are the printable versions. If you like them and like supporting the arts, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early at) patreon.com/tanaudel (starts at $1/month!) or through the tip jar at paypal.me/tanaudel.

May Calendar - colour-web

May Calendar - lines

April Calendar: The Go-Betweens

Note: This calendar is supported by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art: patreon.com/tanaudel, and also by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar: paypal.me/tanaudel

For the printable April calendar, here are an assortment of crows — or ravens, or interchangeable corvids, as the case may be — carrying messages and tokens.

April-calendar-Art-LowRes

This is partly because, for reasons associated with Flyaway, I’ve been talking to people about the fairy tale of “The Seven Ravens”, but mostly because when I was going through all my sketches for possible calendar ideas, a crow started calling outside my window.

(The Go-Betweens were, of course, also a Brisbane band, possibly most famous for Streets of Your Town, but also here is a lovely Winterpills cover of Bye Bye Pride).

And it’s also up as a print and a repeating pattern on Redbubble on cushions, throws, clothes, etc: The Go-Betweens. (Spoonflower to follow, but I have to wait for the sample swatches to arrive).

Redbubble-Crows

And here (for personal use) are the printable versions. If you like them and like supporting the arts, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early at) patreon.com/tanaudel (starts at $1/month!) or through the tip jar at paypal.me/tanaudel.

April calendar - colour-webApril calendar - lines

Process post: Castle Charming pin

2020-03-10-TRRCastleCharmingheader

I was going to save this post until later in Tansy Rayner Roberts‘ Castle Charming Kickstarter campaign, but it’s already been more than 3/4 funded in its first 24 hours!

Castle Charming is a collection of linked short stories and novellas about a year in the life of a fairy tale kingdom, by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

(Incidentally, while I’ve never run a crowdfunding campaign directly, I’ve been involved with quite a few, and the biggest lesson, from Kinds of Blue (9 years!) on, has been: the more complete a project already exists, the faster it funds.)

2020-03-10-CastleCharmingMockUp

One of the reward levels is an enamel pin based on a design by me (the first pin I designed was also for Tansy’s Creature Court crowdfunding campaign (final pins here), and in the interim there was a hedgehog in a teacup, too).

Here are the early sketches (already seen by patrons, including a few I’ve trimmed off here because I definitely want to do something further with them at some point).

2020-02-20-CastleCharmingSketches for web-abbr

Tansy chose M, but with bean plants around the base instead of the generic flourish. I worked up a few approaches (bean plants are notoriously vertical, so working up a horizontal version was an enjoyable puzzle — we had to opt for a short-podded variety), but our favourite was the clustered beans and leaves.

2020-02-22-KJennings-Castle-Mockups for web

From there, I straightened it up and inked it with a brush, then tidied it (lightly — we wanted to keep the hand-drawn effect) digitally and added colour.

I’ll post a picture of the final pins when they become reality, but in the meantime, you can get one by supporting the campaign here: Castle Charming.