Friday, 29 November 2013

Documenting the Madness....Journals

I started a Masters in September, one of the big things the tutors talk about is the importance of keeping a journal. Here are my current journals (I can't keep one entire book for everything, I have many). I thought I would let you have a look at how I am managing my thoughts!

These are B5 size (smaller than A4 but bigger than A5), I have a writing journal and a drawing journal (not a sketchbook! I'll get to that later), the writing reflects on thoughts and issues within my work.

The drawing book I don't consider a sketchbook, even though it's full of sketches!

A sneaky peek inside, we had a crazy life drawing session in which Breaking Bad was projected onto a screen behind the model so have a close look in the background to spot who's there!

This is the outside and inside of my 'taking notes' notebook, I have a HUGE reading list and a terrible memory, so I have to write lots of notes. I usually sit in the living room and pretend I am a clever scholar from the olden days.

Look at this little beauty, and it has a magnetic closing mechanism. This book is for keeping notes on books that are not on my reading list, the ones I read in my spare time. These can be things I've discovered from the reading list, that I need to read up on such as ancient Greek myths and Norse legends that I know little about or fun books I've read and want to remember. Mainly these notes are one page summaries on graphic novels and comics, just incase I go back to work at again where I was advised to keep a little book on all the things I've read or yet to read. This was such a handy tip, especially if there is a book you have never heard of, note it down, then look it up later, it really expands your comic knowledge. Thanks for the tip Martin!

I hope you are keeping up! The red notebook is for primary source information and research, here are interviews with miners, excerpts from books, quotations, and stories from family members. The black notebook contains story arcs and ideas for my graphic novel memoir using the research.

Faces is a visual reference journal, or is it a sketchbook? When does a journal become a sketchbook? Basically its a book full of drawings of faces, but you knew that!

This journal is a beautiful moleskine, when I get a lovely book like this I am afraid to draw in the front for fear of ruining it. So I start in the back first and work from right to left, yes I know it's silly, MOST of my sketchbooks are drawn this way too. What is it about that first page of a new sketchbook that puts the fear into so many artists?

I use this journal for making thumbnails of comics, it's rough and scrappy but I love it. I always think my drawings in here are more interesting and lively than anywhere else. 

  And finally!! Gold star if you have read this far folks! This is my mini notebook (A6) that goes in my bag everywhere and is just for quick notes and ideas. 

These are just my notebooks and journals, I also keep sketchbooks of different size and content but I 'll keep that off the blog!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Photos from The Lakes International Comic Art festival

I am a little behind with this blog so I'm going to finish writing about LICAF, I have PAGES of notes I made at the talks but I think I will keep it brief (try to).

On 19/10/13 I went to The Art of the Memoir talk. on stage was...Nicola Streeton (not in picture), Mary Talbot, Nye Wright, Katie Green, and Al Davidson (the pioneer of autobiographical comics) . Mary Talbot said some very interesting and relevant things, relevant to me at this point in my Masters study. Talbot stated that telling a story is like telling a joke, there needs to be a hook and a twist, otherwise the story can become boring. Mary went on to say that writers need to choose the interesting events and arrange them, and to include a darkest hour or crisis point. Your life is the raw material and is not a story until you arrange it, and also, just because it happened..,it doesn't make it interesting, choose carefully. This information is so useful to me at the moment as I am writing a memoir for my Masters course.

These next pictures are from the Riding on the Underground talk featuring Hunt Emerson and Gilbert Shelton. Hunt suggested that comics are in a 'code' or shorthand and that artists need to learn to use this language.

Here I am at the pub after all the talks...thirsty work taking all those notes! Looks who's behind me...Steve Bell on the left (no pun intended) and Mary Talbot on the right!

Steve Bell and Joe Sacco discussing visual journalism. 

" is the name you give to your mistakes..." Steve Bell
"...I take the p**s all the time but I don't make light of it..." Steve Bell
 "...history and the present are intertwined...there is no beginning or end or any part absolutely contained..." Joe Sacco

Posy Simmonds had some technical problems and so we only got to see her early work on a camera rigged above a table. I enjoyed seeing bits of drawings and different sketchbooks but would have liked to have seen what other goodies she had. Simmonds had some great advice for aspiring comics artists, get ready for it....DRAW, EVERYDAY, so simple but sometimes difficult to do. Posy also likes to get the visual details correct when drawing different eras of time, she has old catalogues from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s to use as reference when drawing kettles or shoes or just about anything you can think of!

Charlie (The Walking Dead) Adlard and Dan Berry with a powerful hand pose!

This was the last talk I visited titled The A-Z of Charlie Adlard, guess what it was about! Well just have a look at that last photograph and I think you can guess!

I really recommend a visit up to the lakes to this festival, it was the best festival of this year in the uk, the organizers did an outstanding job and were well supported by the volunteers who were helping out. Well done! Roll on next year!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Lakes Comic Art Festival 2013- Part 2 The Talks, Steve Bell The Art of Political Satire

I'm usually behind a table selling comics at these events so what a rarity it was for me to get to some talks.

Some talks phew! Plus I went to the Grants for the Arts talk on Sunday morning. Despite seeing all these talks there were still a few more that I could not squeeze into the day, but that was probably for the best as my brain was over filling with information.          

Steve Bell, Margaret Thatcher: My Part in her Downfall.

Steve Bell is a genius, so clever, funny and observational. He has won many awards such as Cartoonist of the Year in 2005 and 2007 and the Cartoon Arts Trust Award EIGHT times! I've read his comics in The Guardian for years but having the creator read them through, brought a whole other dimension to them. I am so glad I got to this SOLD OUT event because from now I will be able to hear Steve's voice reading his comics. Bell began with his experiences of being a teacher and showed us his comics made about this time in his life (Bigfoot). 

Steve told us about how he creates his political cartoons for The Guardian; how he needs to understand the people he is drawing before he can come up with a caricature that fits them. Also always ensuring that in his depictions he is firmly championing The Guardian's rules on taste and decency. Steve suggested that when drawing Margaret Thatcher it was all about the eyeballs, one going one way and the other glinting wildly, all encompassed by a big sweep of hair. He said that she grew into her madness and he captured it within 'the mad eye.' Bell described John Major as a 'crap superman' and that's where the Y-fronts over the grey suit originated from.

He implied that most of the carnage and war/conflicts that happen in the world don't seem to make it into our media, he said that "...we are kept in the dark and they pour shit on us like mushrooms.." 

I did a few sketches as Steve was talking but he doesn't sit still for a moment always enacting his comic strips with wild abandon. He looked a lot like a lovable bear crossed with Jerry Garcia, to my eyes anyway. He ended with some great advice which was "to write as you hear it.." He was specifically talking about dialects and the way people speak but I thought you could apply this to the content of what they are saying. By not reporting your own interpretation of what people say or applying your own meaning, just simply writing what you heard.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival October 2013-part 1 The Comics Clock Tower

The Lakes (LICAF)
I have have to do this blog in several parts as there is so much to say! I cannot believe that this was the first Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, the whole event felt so established and organised, it really was an extraordinary weekend and highly recommended. It was jam packed with talks and screenings, workshops and signings all celebrating the medium of.....comics!

There really was something for everyone at this festival, The Brewery Arts Centre was one of the main places I frequented with a huge array of speakers, but there were other things happening all over this town!
There was a Comics Family Zone in the shopping centre with drop-in sessions and workshops with the artists from The Phoenix Comic and a pop up shop and activities from The Beano.

There were lots of creators to be found inside the comics Clock Tower. It was a great chance to meet artists and get a few sketches.

 Corinne Pearlman, creative director at Myriad Editions and Nicola Streeten, co-creator of Laydeez do Comics and author of Billy, Me and You on Saturday morning.

  Gareth Brookes with his brilliantly disturbing book The Black Project he was also selling prints.

 I finally got to meet Kristyna Baczynski, I've been seeing her artwork everywhere and love it!

Shane Chebsey, publisher at Scar Comics.

Last but not least, Tony Bennett the legend, from Knockabout Comics.

Stay tuned for part 2, where Steve Bell discusses Margaret Thatcher's mad eyes.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

MA Illustration Faces Project

I've started a Masters in...illustration!
I can't even begin to explain how excited I am about this. I feel like I've waited a long time and Now I'm ready for it! We did a huge two day symposium this week where everyone (100 people ish) got to do a shortish (haha!) presentation about their work and how they got to this point. It was so mind-blowing to see all the different styles of work, exciting times! I felt a bit of a fraud passing around my scribbled comics for people to see, everyone is so so talented on the course.

This is my first project: Using one A1 piece of paper create 20 faces
Choose one of these faces to work in to a final image also in A1.

Can you find all the following faces in my picture? Sad, happy, angry, part animal, part insect, sinister, shocked, emotionless, frightened, confused, singing, laughing, eating, drinking, dreaming, peeking, round, long, excitable, and astonished.

Above left is the pencils and next to it, on the right is when I inked it in. Below is one of the ealier stages with a lot less black parts filled in. I plan to colour it in on Photoshop...when I've found a huge scanner!

 Now I have to choose one face to do on a humongous sheet of A1 paper...I thought I could select this lady who is a bit shocked at her food arriving alive....what do you think?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Moon Thieves

This will be my last post about the things I do in schools because....I've gone back to school!! To start my Masters of Illustration!!! More about that next week. Back to The Moon Thieves, this was our school play and I was so delighted to paint the back drop of a little round house in the woods (I can hear the song playing now!).

I began with a tiny sketch on a scrap piece of paper...this was transferred onto Mrs Clarkes old curtains which were stapled onto 2Es Maths board! Honestly, the things you do when working in schools!

Above is the sketched version...I hope 2Es maths board survived!

Mrs Clarkes curtains are firmly in place and the painting has begun...

The curtains are covered, the bizarre camera angles are due to be squashed into a corner..behind that board are about 60 children practicing the songs to the play.

Here is the finished painting! 
The whole thing took about 2 or 3 days...the children loved seeing it as a work in progress and how the layers were bulit up. Obviously they were inspired by me..they all began drawing pictures of the house!