It being the 13th today, I listened to this while working: Blur, 13. I wasn’t the hugest fan back in the day, but I did really like this album. And it stands the test of time. “Come on, come on, come on, get through it… love’s the greatest thing that we have…” (lyrics from the first track on the album, Tender).
This week I’ve been working on my black and white skills. Here’s the latest, a sequence I imagined. (I was riffing on drawing people with hands in their pockets.)
As an exercise this week I set myself the challenge of copying illustrations from some exceptional illustrators, to see what I could learn. It’s a really interesting thing to do – in copying you kind of ‘feel’ the way it’s drawn and understand better what the artist is trying to do with their materials. I’ve tried this in the past with Tove Jansson.
This is my attempt at copying an EH Shepard illustration from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame.
I really enjoyed it, it was almost like doing a meditation, and I learnt so much in the 40 minutes it took. Here are some of the things I learnt: Every single mark is considered. He draws with a very light hand (I’m realising more and more how heavy handed I tend to naturally draw). The pen skips and dances and is always moving, never in the same direction for long. It really feels as if he is drawing from life. Shepard is a genius.
This is my attempt at Tony Ross, copied from ‘Hurry Secret Seven, Hurry’, by Enid Blyton. Here’s what I learnt from him: Shoes don’t matter too much (I often agonise over how convincing my drawings of shoes are). He uses a really varied line, very thick at times, really energetic and free. He often uses paint to describe things, rather than line. Frames feel really good (when I added the frame it seemed to bring the whole thing to life). Ross is fabulous.
Today I tried working a digital illustration onto a photo, the first time I’ve done that. Starting from a photo taken on a walk to a local waterfall, and I’m pretty happy with the result. (It’s actually a little video, but I haven’t quite got my head around how to animate those parts together yet.)
Another first, I also fell off a bike for the first time today too! I’ve only been learning a few weeks, and went for a little practice at the reccy ground, still muddy from the recent weather. But don’t worry, it really wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve drawn it!
The brief for a commission I was working on last week was ‘someone holding a trophy’, and I just loved getting inspired by Billie Eilish at the Grammys. What a fab achievement. Well done her.
[Illustration and roughs for commission by Collins Learning, HarperCollins Publishers]
Trying to squeeze in more moments to draw, outside of ‘drawing for work’. Today it was over breakfast, looking out the window. Kids walking to school. I really wanted to capture the way that they walk with rucksacks that usually look far too heavy for them. The bags look part of their being, the way they have to balance them out with their upper bodies. Abstracting them a little, I started to imagine them as giant fledgings on unsteady legs, making their own way out into the world.
I could draw people with their bags all day long.