After a week of storms and howling wind, I was happy the weekend had started. What was even grander about this particular weekend was that I was about embark on an adventure to a creative workshop out in Stellenbosch (Cape Town, South Africa). It would be just under an hours drive to that side of the world, but with the sun shining brightly the time flew quickly.
The venue was a farm that I was soon to discover, was filled with treasures. There were beads and glass hanging from strings, rusty beds in the garden (in case you needed a nap) and arts, crafts and projects all over the place. An old crochet blanket, obviously homemade with love, rested on just one of the mix-matched chairs in the sitting room. Soon there was a bubble of women, chatting away, drinking tea and introducing each other. The atmosphere was filled with excitement about what we were about to get up to.
The workshop was run by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), here in South Africa. The presenter was Yvette de Beer, who had come from Johannesburg (Witbank). From her introduction it seemed that Yvette had a lot of thumbs in a lot of pies. She does amazing mosaic work as well as just started a business selling these beautiful leather and canvas bags for artists, called Exentric Bags. Read more
It all started with a book called Imaginative Realism by James Gurney. What a book. Now, I am in no way a realism painter. It’s not my thing. But just like I am sure a lot of artists out there, drawing from your imagination is always a little tricky. And I’m not talking here about simple things, like banana’s or post boxes, but being able to create worlds or creatures that don’t exist.
Gurney illustrated a book about dinosaurs and men co-existing in one world. I’m not too familiar with it, but creating entire worlds and characters, most of which have died millions of years ago, was a problem he encountered. In the book I read, he revealed some insight into how he got around it, as well as how he manages to draw all his other fantastic art. I’m not going to go into detail here, (feel free to go buy the book!) but I wanted to share with you my experience with some of the techniques here.
I used to love drawing fun monsters, until Monster’s Inc came out. My favourite monster I used to draw, looks pretty much like the main character, with blue fur, warthog tusks and top heavy. I might almost feel obliged to sue, but if you think about it, what I have described – other than the blue colour – could pretty much describe most of the monsters in ‘The Wild Things.’
Which brings back the concept that there is no such thing as unique, really.
Occasionally it happens. You explore, research and design a character with life, character and style and the client rather wants their daughter’s stick characters she made on her tablet. So your drawer is full of fluffy, scaly, feathery creatures from your imagination that are never used. Well not today.
I have been absent as I have been working on a very exciting book where I have had to explore my black and white illustration style. It has been a good challenge, especially since the main characters (and most of his friends) are a type of animal that I usually try to avoid. Have you ever tried to draw a loved one? Like a family member, or a friend? Then discovered it came out horrible because you know their face too well? Well it is the same for me with this particular animal/pet. I’m sure you can work out which type of pet I am talking about… Read more