Happy lads, Ron and Harry, to gladden your day…
You can find more of Harry’s friends here.
Happy lads, Ron and Harry, to gladden your day…
You can find more of Harry’s friends here.
With my focus lately on wrapping up the Duckworth revision, I’ve not been posting as many of my drawings, but of course I am still drawing every day. There have been the usual ups and downs: late in October I was doing a lot of work I enjoyed, but more recently I’ve been on a downturn. With writing sliding into the back seat for a few miles, I hope to focus more on drawing through the end of the year. To kick off a little more intensity, I decide to post the best of what I’ve been up to.
I’ve been looking to many sources for inspiration: Downton Abbey, Star Trek, manga, people I see around me, Drawing Tutorials Online (especially the work of June and Alex), and the work of Frank Stockton, Skottie Young and Moebius. There are rendered portraits, original characters in several styles, caracatures….just about anything that struck my fancy. I imagine the ideal would be to be very serious and focused, working through various exercises to gain definite skills and improve where I’m faulty, and I hope that day won’t be far off, but for now, what I want to do is have fun when I draw. And that’s what this work is, the fruit of fun.
It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; I hope so. I’m trying to learn and so I choose the inspiration I like the best.
(Media: markers, pencil and colored pencils)
This time I didn’t go away on a vacation, but instead took a vacation from serious drawing efforts. I decided to copy manga. I’ve had a cold, I needed a break…
Now, I don’t know much about manga, so I chose one randomly, ending up with Yuuki Tabata’s Black Clover. The story doesn’t do much for me, but it is a shounen manga, which is intended for young boys (not middle-age women). Aside from the beautiful clear line style and the boldly designed shapes on some pages, I noticed Harry Potter-ish elements in the action. Aside from being a story about magic, I spotted a Dumbledore-like wizard and a Snape look-alike bad guy in the first chapter and broom-flying in the second chapter. Could the blonde challenger have been a Draco-clone? Possibly. I chose to draw a few of the HP elements. Yuno is way more of a bad-ass broom flyer than Harry though. Sorry, Potter. Better luck another time.
I really enjoyed laying out my page as I chose random images to sketch, but I have to take the blame for the color–this manga is entirely black and white. Just playing around. It was a lot of fun; I’m sure I’ll do more some day.
Long ago, I wrote a story about a little girl named Molloy Warrick, aka Molly. My intent at the time was for it to be profusely illustrated, and so I did a number of studies. Today I made another one–watercolor this time–and in honor of revisiting this theme, I’ve opened a new page for Molly under the Projects tab. For now, there are just a few of the studies I’ve made.
Drawings, a few new themes. Re-reading old journals makes me wonder about my younger self…and if 36 years from now, I’ll be wondering about the person doing these drawings and writings now. “…and to think she really thought she knew what she was doing…” Well, Future Self, I really don’t think I know what I’m doing, that’s the whole problem, and always has been. Of course, if I make it to 90, I’ll be entitled to think whatever I like about my current doings. I hope it will still seem interesting to me.
I love these drawings; they were exciting to make. You can see I’m still playing with that Moebius figure from last week, trying to make it a little more my own. Add a sun-halo. One idea leads to another. Bird in a budding magnolia tree, face appearing in my mind, sun hovering over his brow. What does it mean? I suspect we shall see–I’m definitely trying to flesh it out. It’s a change for me to take ideas, images, from my head and try in some way to translate them onto paper. It feels more purposeful than just sketching-to-sketch, aimlessly drawing. I got frustrated with that and sometimes wondered if I really was learning that way. Maybe I was. I don’t know. This feels better, at any rate. I hope it continues.
I drew more for pleasure than learning this week, and very little on any kind of theme. I looked at Moebius, Toppi and Jamie Hewlett a lot. I find it hard to juggle more than one project when I’m working full time, so, while I continue to draw every day, it’s not always anything very exciting. I wanted to try to write more this year, but that means, in limited time, I am drawing less. It’s a balancing act and one, at the moment, I’m not entirely satisfied with. I’ really not complaining though–it was a good week.
Behold the prodigious reading of the past year… A few of these books I’ve written about already and I’m sure a few themes are obvious….drawing instruction books from the early 1900s… comics… art historical books (long ago college major)…six novels by Sinclair Lewis, five by Dickens…dabbled a bit more with Henry James (his novel What Maisie Knew, 1897, I read last year; it was a favorite)… and toward the end of the year, books on cooking and wine.
Little, Big was a book that came to me as a recommendation. The first part was some of the most pleasurable fiction I’ve ever read, fantastically imaginative in the way the first 200 pages of Helprin’s Winter’s Tale was; the middle painful, poignant, but perfect in its breath-stopping way; but the end was such a disappointment that I can’t in good faith recommend it. When it was right, it was as inevitably perfect as an elegant mathematical equation, but its failures felt like failures of vision, perhaps a desire in Crowley to make an end to the gigantic task he’d set out upon. Yet I will re-read it one day, hoping that the magic at the start is not tainted by my knowledge of the unconvincing end.
My choices were varied this year, drifting back as far as the 18th century and as contemporary as 2013’s Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas and Allie Brosh’s very funny comics on depression Hyperbole and a Half. I truly, deeply loved the Ilgunas book, which would be no surprise to those who know me, fondly I hope, as a bit of a tightwad. Ilgunas was buying freedom with his frugality and so am I. A great read about a very determined (and smart) young man. Brosh is best when she writes about dogs; she also draws them exceptionally well, not so much in a da Vinci sort of way, but more that her pictures capture the souls of dogs. Her style can be pretty goofy, but effective just the same.The other smart man I was excited to discover was Paul Graham. His essays are profoundly insightful: he has a way of finding a new perspective on controversial ideas and curious phenomena, leading you through his thought process in his lucidly constructed arguments. God, I love smart people! I now read everything he writes as soon as it’s posted.
The “bests” though were the early Sinclair Lewis novels, Trail of the Hawk being the favorite of the ones I read this year (Our Mr Wrenn, another favorite, I read late last year.) There’s something about the sense of life you find in the writing in the early 19th century that I can’t get enough of. It’s a picture of youth and optimism, of chasing dreams and holding onto ideals, and when it’s important, going your own way. Maybe it’s the belief in progress and limitless horizons, a conviction in the goodness of living, that seems so utterly alien to the world we live in now. Reading these books is a refreshing, hip-pocket vacation. But it was apparently no easier for these writers to hold to these values than it is for the rest of us. Past 1920, it’s gone from Lewis: I found Main Street a depressing inversion of his previous values, though oddly, for a dystopian-future novel, It Can’t Happen Here was not so bad. Same goes for James Branch Cabell, another favorite writer, but it took a bit longer for cynicism to overrun his work. I feel I have an essay in me about the writers of this period, but I’m not done ruminating on it yet. Meantime, these books will be part of my regular, re-reading rotation.
Reading is a real adventure for me. I don’t travel much or do much that’s daring, except in my head. I never know where I’ll end up when I start reading or even what sort of thing will appeal, and while I do try to complete certain programs of study, half the joy is the serendipity of finding a kindred spirit in the pages of the book. Some of the best people I’ve known live in them….and always will.
I had some fun yesterday at the Handmade Arcade craft show with my friend, Greg: he did his Christmas shopping and I bought cards, art by April Bleakney and children’s comic books by Nathaniel Taylor. (Nathaniel’s blog, Something’s Out There, has great content too–check it out.) The last time I went was years ago when it was held in the cold, grubby warehouses of Construction Junction, and the atmosphere was one of a fun, impromptu grunge party. The food, served from folding tables, was offered by small local restaurants. This year the show was held in the spartan, white-walled Convention Center, with food offered from a concession stand. (It may have been catered by a local restaurant, but it didn’t look inviting so I didn’t find out.) Considering the crowd-volume, a place that size was a necessity. I think the vendor selection was much better though, and it was a pleasure to spend a few moments talking with the artists.
As for my own work, I didn’t do as much this week as I might have wanted to, though several hours did go into gift-related work. I didn’t get to the museum to sketch Thursday night either; it had been an exhausting day and when 5 o’clock came, I was ready to go home and crawl in bed. Maybe next week. I’d say my drawings were evenly divided this week between sketches from life and from photo reference, and overall, I like what I made. Maybe in another 40,000 sketches, I’ll start to do really brilliant and abundant work, but till then, I have a lot of new inspiration from all I saw this weekend.
A new week of drawings… quite a few successful and interesting drawings from life and just as much fun doing drawings from photos, like the babies… studies from old masters and looking at comics…even a look back at Harry Potter! I had a lot of fun with that and took a lot of pleasure in my lunch break sketch at One Oxford this week. I should be content… but am I ever?
Another week of irregular work. No real theme, other than continuing to absorb reference material so one day I can draw my characters on my own. The red-haired fellow and the girl with the sunglasses were my attempts for the week. I’ve been looking at a lot of comics, too, including Wes Craig’s art from Deadly Class and Tony Harris’s drawings in Ex Machina. I’ve also been inspired by Will Terrell’s sketchbook videos, which hearten me. I felt the opposite from watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi–great film, cool guy, but it made me depressed about my life choices. On the other hand, I finally figured out a bus route and timing that will take me to the Southside on my lunch hour, allowing me to get to Utrecht for art supplies. I’m really loving my new Pigma Brush pen! I actually did a fair bit of exploring this week, which is unusual for me, but much needed.