It is probably very different for those who can maintain the discipline of posting to their blogs every day, but for the rest of us, who invariably post when we can, gaps appear in our flow and by the time we have seen them it is too late to close them up or fill them in. Such is the way of things. When posting relies quite heavily on making progress with a project or piece this is something you pretty much have to live with, cope with and try and overcome through trying just a bit harder. So, gaps are awkward but not the end of the world. My posting habits are erratic at times but this does not mean that nothing has been going on in the background.
Following the last post, showing the journey from blank sheet to finished picture (see below), work has continued on that small series, sketching out, drawing up and starting colour work on the last three images that will take me to the complete set of nine that I want. In the photo above, taken today in the mini-studio, you can see two of these remaining pictures. In the foreground is number eight just over half way through with most of the inking in done and only bike colour and background to finalise. Number seven, in the top left, is all done and only awaits a background block and final fiddling. I will of course post them up as they get fully finished. I thought this shot would also be useful for the fact that you can clearly see my technical pens lying next to the picture, which gives you a clear sense of the scale I am working at with these. Small.
This second shot shows the current state of my ideas wall. I am trying to develop the habit of changing it’s contents a bit more regularly though doubtless some of what you can see will appear very familiar to those who have been following the blog for any time. On the right hand side though you can see evidence of what has been occupying my blog-time of late. I have been getting some of the drawings ready for printing as small cards with the intent of selling some through the Soulcraftcandy BigCartel store. The top row shows some run-offs of the first set from the original Cafe Racer series done last year and below them are some prints off the home printer looking at how best to size these newer images for their own card set. Getting all the files clean after scanning, colour balanced and nice and crisp takes a good deal of time but hopefully the results will be worth it. So there is lots happening and I will be reporting on progress as the journey to print continues.
If you spotted it and guessed correctly, yes that is a picture of one of the cats at the very bottom of the shot, but fear not, this blog is not about to be overtaken by feline inspired craziness.
In the last post I talked about trying some news things and challenging myself to develop some new techniques and practices. It is hoped that this will inject something fresh into the drawing process, to keep the old brain stimulated and create some funky images along the way. Though probably a needless concern, it has always been important for me to ensure that I never get bored with what I’m doing, that it become repetitive to the point that I’m reluctant to engage with it, and above all, it should remain fun with a capital “F”.
One of the best ways I’ve found to keep the fun factor going is to have a group of styles and techniques which I can swap between. Someone asked me not long ago wether I had a signature style and I found the question quite hard to answer, it made me go away and think about it. Eventually it occurred to me that I most likely, or literally, did not, but I did have a style in the way that I drew the subjects, how I represented basic forms and shapes. What caused the feeling of uncertainty in hearing the original question was that the way in which I subsequently rendered each image, be it in biro pen or coloured ink etc, could be very different, and so some final pictures vary greatly from others in their final look. There are probably those who would suggest that it’s important to develop a signature style but I prefer the variety that a group approach gives you. The point being that I believe it’s vital to keep interested in your work and never be afraid of the freedom experimentation affords you. Long may it last.
So here’s the second picture in my quest for more productivity and fun. This image shows it half done. Here the basic pencil outline is gradually filled using very thin layers of watercolour and coloured ink. By building the image slowly it offers the opportunity for some interesting overlaying of the pigments, and varying the tone across the details. These are being done on Bristol Board which doesn’t behave anything like watercolour paper, it’s smooth and flat to start with, doesn’t buckle so you’ve no need to stretch it and the paint dries very quickly. I love my watercolours but endlessly waiting for bits to dry enough before applying the next colour without risking it all melding together can be a little trying at times. As I said this is a relatively quick way to do it. Once I’m happy that I’ve got most of the colour down, the whole thing is redrawn in ink. I’ll show the final inked up picture in the next post.
I mentioned in the last post how hard it can be sometimes to keep track of ideas, organise them and maintain connection with them as you go. Those thoughts were prompted by a session going through the piles of loose sheets that don’t get put on the wall in the studio and the ideas that they contain. It’s amazing how fast one can build a pile of paper, and how much time one can spend subsequently sifting through them.
The new year has brought with it a desire to try and bring some kind of order to how ideas are collated and stored, and then how to access them a little more quickly. A solution, which I’m now trying to make a habit of, was found in a book and I don’t mind admitting as much. I’m lucky that here in Ealing I have access to a public library which has escaped closure. It is a fantastic resource for all kinds of things aside from books and is completely free. They have quite a good arts section and a good few books about all aspects of drawing and painting. One publication I borrowed recently was by a cartoonist and animator. An interesting book though much of it was very specific to his latter trade, but what struck me was how he organised his work. There were many examples of worksheets he created for each project which explored everything from frame compositions to colour palettes and other tiny details. Although most of it was way too complicated for my needs, it was the central concept of the worksheet that stuck with me. The sheet above is one of my first worksheets, or ideas sheets. I haven’t gone as far as making a grid of boxes to sketch in or scribble notes in but getting the ideas down this way helps with any grouping I may want to create, and more importantly it is now possible to increase the density of ideas stuck up on the wall by a considerable degree. So simple, so effective.