Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Chronicles of Prydain

I have attempted to take back control of my project list for the time being.  I have limited myself to one thing (or maybe two) to work on for my portfolio.  I have a little less than a month until my first deadline (I am going to a workshop on visual storytelling in August that I am SUPER excited for) of finishing . . . something. So. 

I've decided to do some illustrations for the "Chronicles of Prydain".  The thought process behind this is that it is less intimidating than "The Hobbit" and "Chronicles of Narnia" right now (don't ask me why, I have been highly adverse to burrowing down into the rabbit-warren of my thought processes and motivations these past few weeks . . . it's really . . . scary . . . down there). My goal is to eventually have one or two color illustrations as well as a hand-full of black and white pieces and spots. Anyway, we'll see.  

On a side note, as I have been rereading these books I have become more and more impressed with Lloyd Alexander.  Obviously he hits his stride in the later books, but he has high standards for his characters and he's not afraid to put them through the ringer and pull them out the other side all the more stronger for it.   I am so tired of characters whose lives are full of stuff they can't control and everything's unfair and they're all alone, etc. And then, Wham! Yay!  The universe aligns itself, or that bully sees the error of his ways, or we get pregnant with some parasitic vampire-baby that somehow magical solves all the emotional constipation of all the other characters in the books, or whatever, and everything is better and fair.  Ugh.  

I hate sparkly vampires.  I swear, it has to be something in the water.  

But, it's not just that stupid series - there are so many other books out right now that have NO POINT and they're badly written.  And re-reading these 10 years old and up books has restored some sense of balance in my own personal universe.  If I wasn't so very satisfied with their struggles and triumphs I might be tempted to wonder if my very great love of illustrated children's books and pre-teen chapter books says something about my general state of mind.  But I am satisfied.  So I'm not going there.  

And just so that you know that I do on occasion turn to adult reading, I have also been trying to read the Kristen Lavransdatter series and that has been like wading through slime.  I'm not feeling any kind of life lessons learned or poetic justice or - anything - coming for this girl - if I can care enough about her to get to the end of the series.  Which isn't happening.  So.  I am not just complaining about teenage paranormal series. I have one other specific source of irritation.  One other.  That's reason enough to rant, right?  Right?

Gwydion, Prince of Don

Hen Wen, the oracular pig

The Horned King

Running from the Horned King, sketch.

Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper

Taran, a little too young

Eilonwy and Taran on Melyngar doodle


Gurgi looking more like . . . himself.

Designing the Horned King's Mask

Doodles and Notes


Also I am trying to put together a short comic to work on my sequential storytelling.  I'm taking "East of the Sun, West of the Moon", a Norwegian/Scandanavian fairy-tale and turning into a comic-ish thing. Yeah.

And there might be some . . other things I am working on, too.  Yeah.  Maybe one or three others.  I am trying, okay?

Anyway, I know I am getting carried away with the Instagram thing, but it's so easy to post pictures of work in progress with it . . . and I don't have to scan anything . . . and I HATE scanning . . . 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Queen Victoria, Illustrator?

New illustrations from Queen Victoria's journals have been made available online and I've heard a couple people express surprise that she could draw so well.  It touches on a point that I've come to believe very strongly over the last few years and I thought this was a good opportunity to share them.

First of all, I want you to be encouraged.  Even if you don't consider yourself and "artist" (like we really know what that means) you are creative.  I recently came across a great article from The Rabbit Room about creativity that I thought was incredibly well put.  Here's an excerpt:

"My point is this: we’re all creative. Tolkien coined the word subcreator. Some of you have likely heard me or someone else talk about that idea, but it bears repeating. He said, “We make in the manner in which we were made.” To put it another way, we serve a Creator, with a capital C. One of the ways in which we’ve been made in his image is that we also delight in creating. Everything we make is derivative and secondary, and in some manner draws attention to the primary creation, the truth, and the Creator himself. That means everyone on earth could justly label themselves a Creative. That means that even if you don’t wear hipster glasses, skinny jeans, and have Justin Bieber hair, you’re a Creative. It means that even if you’re a banker, a produce manager, or a doctor you’re a Creative. So allow me to reclaim that hijacked adjective, for the good of the world. None of us in this room is a Creative. But all of us are creative."
         - Andrew Peterson, transcript of opening remarks at Hutchmoot 2011

Secondly, anyone can learn to draw.  Drawing is about observation, it takes time and patience to learn but everyone can.  It's like reading or doing sums - everyone can learn how to do it.  And just like reading and writing and math, some people have a greater aptitude for the subject.  So, will you come out the other side drawing like Leonardo?  Probably not.  Will you be able to express yourself on a two-dimensional surface - yes.

I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when people say things like, "Man, I wish I could draw like that" or "Ugh, I'll never be able to do something like that".  Guess what?  All of those people that your admiring didn't come out of the womb with the ability to do that.  Artists spend years developing the skill to do all of the stuff  they do.  Years.  So all of that awesome that you're admiring?  Yes, it's talent, but it's also a lot of hard work.  They (hopefully) don't sit down with just the intention of drawing or painting something - they sit down (or stand, whatever) with the intention of making something better than whatever they did the last time they tried to put something down on paper (or canvas or whatever).  The best artists never settle for just "good enough".  They're always trying to improve their craft.  And every artist - from the one who's "made it" to the one that is still trying to break out of their boring day job - every one sees something in their work that isn't quite "it" yet.  You have less of that as you improve, as you make more and more art, but that "grr" moment is ALWAYS going to be there in some way shape or form.  The point is to keep pushing through that, cause there is improvement just around the corner!  I promise!