The Grand Tour Part One: The 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

American sketchbook 2014 part 1 – New York, New York

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.

So, as you may have noticed from my updates on this blog, I have been away for a few weeks. If you were following me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have gathered that I was in the USA, having a grand time and drawing all over the place. This was an illustration-focused trip (thanks to an Arts Qld grant), and as usual I kept a sketchbook instead of taking photos. In between I looked at a great deal of art and talked a lot (but not nearly enough) to many wonderful and dazzling people and ate everything except vegetables. But here, in accordance with tradition, is an account of some of the slow-moving things I saw. (1) People in hi-vis gear in international airports. (2) Spectacular views between LAX and NY (tip: if you can get a window seat in daylight on that stretch, do). (3) New York, being New York. Page 1 The week I arrived was (would have been) the week of Dylan Thomas‘ 100th birthday. After church (where I met three lovely ladies from Holland, with whom I met up for dinner the following night) I showed up at the sold-out production of his Under Milk Wood at the 92Y, and was able to get a ticket! It was a live BBC Wales broadcast, from the stage where it was first performed, with a Welsh cast directed by and starring Michael Sheen. I may have cried a little. (Tip: if you are visiting New York City, check out what’s on at 92Y). Then on to the Bowery Poetry Club (tip: if you’re visiting, check them out for events) for Dylan Thomas readings, featuring , Dr Elaine CanningBob HolmanKevin Powell and Gwyneth Lewis (which reminds me, she had an essay in the latest Poetry magazine and I should subscribe). Page 2 Afterwards, it was open-mic night, but there were so many poets left over that they pretty much alternated poets with singers, and I even stood up and gave a reading! (I read ‘Bears My Mother Brought With Her‘ and ‘Print is Dead‘). More New York the next day, including many gallery visits (I met a very nice lady from Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery at the 92Y and discovered many neighbouring galleries as a consequence). Page 3 A gorgeous exhibition of mourning dresses at the Met, but I was particularly taken by the humour in medieval art elsewhere in the museum. I find it easy to get a fossilised, received view of historical periods, and there is a delightful jolt of rediscovered humanity in seeing the actual artefacts. Saint Emerentia jovial and mysterious, crooked iron crows, misanthropic owls… Page 4 A visit to the Society of Illustrators for lunch with Irene Gallo and Greg Manchess (who are wonderful), followed by sketching Mario Reuben Cooper‘s choices in hands in the stairwell, and assorted details of the picture book exhibition. Page 5 Then I sketched hands on the subway and missed my stop on the way to the Village and McNally Jackson Books, where we (Kelly Link, Sarah Reese Brennan, Joshua Lewis, Alice Sola Kim, Greg Purcell and I) gave readings from Monstrous Affections before going out for far too much pizza. The account of exactly how I gave a reading from a comic is a subject for another post. Page 6 Next in the series is Part Two: Boston

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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

American Sketchbook – Part 2: Illuxcon, New York and Colorado

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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Continue reading

Books I did buy in America:

Wicked – Gregory Maguire. Very well written, but I’m not sure what I think about it yet – possibly because it looks like fantasy but is actually ‘literary’ and so reviewing it as fantasy (my genre) is like trying to review Unbreakable as a superhero movie. That’s what it’s about but not what it is.

Countess Below Stairs (a.k.a. The Secret Countess) – Eva Ibbotson. Sigh…. The precedents manager and I are having an Ibbotson bookswap, and what can I say but that these books are pretty much perfect?

Ready or Not – Meg Cabot. Just not as good as “All American Girl”. Which was just *fun*.

Maus – Art Spiegelman. I haven’t read it yet, but I do have the Strand/Art Spiegelman book bag to use once I have. Second hand with dodgy (im)perfect binding.

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation – Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. A fascinating and good idea, but more emotive than I have come to expect from illustrated books (from which you can probably tell the sorts of graphic novels I have read). Worth the (second hand) purchase price just for the time line.

My Crowd – Charles Addams. Confession: Before I went to the Museum of Comic Book and Cartoon Art I did not know about Charles Addams – only the Addams Family. But… hehehe. Werewolf in a planetarium. Snrrk. :)

Amphigorey, Amphigorey II and Amphigorey Again – Edward Gorey. If you don’t know Gorey, think of Lemony Snicket as the lovechild of Gorey and Nesbit. At his wierdest, I adore him. Then there are the parts that would be excruciatingly crude, rude or gory if they actually happened on stage or you could work out what the heck *was* happening. For the record, my favourite Gorey is The Doubtful Guest. And no, I don’t know what it is. Possibly a beakless penguin-aardvark in tennis shoes.

Up and Down New York – Tony Sarg. Not a lot has changed.

Five things I did not buy in America

Two weeks before I flew, a… unique individual gave me two valuable insights. One was that I would meet the love of my life in America (I either didn’t, or don’t know it yet). The other was to buy two things which are not obtainable over here. I will not tell you what they were because then Errantry would turn up on completely different google searches to the current standards of “mr squiggle knit” and “teapot microwave Sydney proof”. I did not buy those two things.

Here are five other things I did not buy, but should have:

  1. Autumn merchandise: Fabric and paper autumn leaves, oak leaf cookie cutters and a particularly hideous purple-and-orange owl-patterned bandanna.
  2. More cheap Moleskines (I did buy two).
  3. I heart NY t-shirts, ironic alteration, for the purposes of.
  4. Novels. $8 new! Why, why, why did I not buy more books?
  5. Cinnamon rolls. With cream cheese icing/sauce. More than two of.

Christmas at Macy’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


We lost ourselves for a while in the Christmas displays at Macy’s – dozens of trees, beautifully dressed – red or white or pink or peacock-coloured. There was even an upside down tree (I think it’s “Christmas at Macy’s 13” if you link through to my Flickr album).

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Five forms of public transport I took in America

  1. Plane. Overrated. Cramped. At least on Qantas all the (predominantly male) flight attendants were cheerful and gave you drawstring bags of goodies to eat in the middle of the night. American Airlines act as their job would be much better if you were not there. Also, they ran out of food on our five-hour cross-country flight and Mommy and I had to split the last turkey bagel. The commuter planes are more cheerful, but they are like buses only not so wide. I did not know what noises to expect them to make and had to watch the single attendant in case I missed a cue to panic.
  2. Train. Better than the plane. Longer, but with scenery and leg room and toilets you can actually get out of your seat to go to. The food is surprisingly worse, but more than made up for by not having to wait at either end and so, in effect, almost the same amount of total travel time. Go Amtrak, who will refund your ticket price if you book for the wrong date and have to rebook immediately after. Also, the New York subway which was clean (the trains, not the stations) and… constant, which was probably its defining virtue. Also easy to navigate and with very pretty mosaics in some of the stations. I did not spend long enough on the Washington Subway to form an opinion.
  3. Bus. Hop-on-hop-off buses are a marvellous invention, even though I froze my lips on the night bus and couldn’t pronounce voiceless bilabial fricatives (I may have mentioned this earlier). A two-day ticket is long enough to get a bit of history and a feel for the layout of the town, a good view and the thrilling frisson that comes from the threat of imminent decapitation. I also went on a night-time trolley bus tour of Washington. It had a jovial director and an occupancy of cheerful American tourists and the windows steamed up because of the rain. Also, free lollipops.
  4. Taxis. Cheap, painted with flowers and almost always easy to catch. Except from the Australian Consulate. GARTH NIX LIED! and I was ten minutes late for Hairspray and had to wait at the back and sit down between songs (I’m not complaining about that, just wishing I could have spent the taxi time at the Consulate instead of on the kerb). And on the last night Mommy and I took a bicycle taxi to the theatre. I thought it was exciting, dodging through traffic and traveling on the wrong side of the road. Mommy said it was $25 of sheer terror. We arrived at the theatre slightly windswept.
  5. Horse-drawn carriage. Mommy and I walked to Central Park on the last day and took a carriage ride through Central Park, past chess players and people sunbaking on rocks, the Carousel and ice-skaters. It was peaceful and charming and fun and they gave us a blanket.