Thursday, 11 April 2013

Miss Quick Snout Strikes Again

Art Alfresco is on again in Orange in conjunction with Food Week and this year, for the first time, I attempted a painting for the outside exhibition. Forty local artists were given a collection of still life images to use as inspiration for a large painting (1m x 1m). All forty paintings have now been hung on the South Court Wall of the Orange Regional Gallery and the collection look fantastic! If you live in Orange you should pass by the gallery to have a look. 

My painting titled "Miss Quick Snout and the Fate of the Lone Lamb Cutlet" features our lovely but very sneaky whippet, Pivot. That particular lamb cutlet, cooked the night before to use as reference for the painting, was stolen before I'd even finished painting it. And later that day she also stole four banana muffins. She's one seriously fast but extremely naughty dog. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Quest to Create Something Completely Different

I often get asked about my creative process, so thought I'd put together a post on this topic. It also seems to have become about my recent desire to branch out and create varied work.

I recently finished the paintings for a book called BANJO & RUBY RED, written by my lovely friend Libby Glesson. I always start out a book thinking I'll try to do something COMPLETELY different. And then of course it gradually works its way back to being something not that different at all. BANJO & RUBY RED was going to be an utterly different book! It was going to be a combination of printmaking and stencil techniques and expressive, uninhibited drawing.

Of course, as it is with many grand plans and exciting schemes, the final illustrations ended up nothing like this.

Funnily enough, I find it difficult to start drawing - it takes me quite a while to coax myself towards a pencil. So I start the illustrations for a book by writing notes and brainstorming. I don't always (or perhaps ever) 'see' a book the first time I read it. Or if I do have a visual style in mind it will be the work of another illustrator whose work I admire and secretly wish was mine.

At this early stage I like to gather images I find inspiring, fully intending to produce something along the lines of this inspiration. I wave the inspiration around and say, the book will look like this. But inevitably the final product bears no resemblance to it at all!

After a lengthy period of anguish and uncertainty, I produce a storyboard, a series of small sketches that show a basic representation of what I imagine will be on each page.

Here's the storyboard image for the first page of BANJO & RUBY RED.

The storyboard sketches always look wonderful - free and wild and inspired. Then you begin the process of basically ruining each page - cleaning them up, fine tuning them and adding details.

Since this book was going to include printed elements and be 'completely different', I had to do some tests to figure out exactly how completely different it was going to be. I really liked the first result - perfectly messy and different in feel from anything I've done before.

But actually, that was the only one that did look any good and I discovered that what I was hoping to achieve was fraught with complications. Would I be able to sustain an entire book using my very limited lino block print skills? Should I print it all traditionally or composite parts on the computer? Would I therefore have to actually learn how to use photoshop properly? Where on earth do you find a decent A3 scanner? Particularly in Orange? 

In the end I gave up, scared of failure and a looming deadline, and went back to my old faithful paint on paper, something I had complete control over, that wouldn't let me down. To spice things up a bit I used oil paints rather than watercolours and loved the process and the result.

Luke Kelly, the best designer in the world, did a FABULOUS job designing the book. I'll be very excited when the advance copies arrive. 

The end result of all of this is that I desperately want to do a print making course and one day soon create a book that really is completely different!