Creative content defines who we are – whether it’s a song, a book, poem, painting or other work – in celebration of Australian creators – I’d like to share two Australian books
Whether they create an illusion, a sense of mystery, movement or anchor a subject firmly to the ground, shadows can be a useful device for an illustrator – just as they are for a painter or photographer.
I once bought the perfect artist’s sketch book – with a black leather-look cover and wonderful thick, acid-free pages. But when I unwrapped it and set it carefully on my art desk it would not work. Every time I opened the book blank pages stared at me – expressionless and fixedly white – until I closed its cover and placed it neatly on my shelf. There it observed life for a year or two, while I sketched happily on any other paper. Only when its spell had faded somewhat, did I open it again. Even then, I had to coax it into action by beginning journal style. On the first blank page, I washi-taped a smudged 2b thumbnail sketch (something I’d prepared earlier) on a ripped-edge scrap of lined foolscap. On the second blank page I taped a post-it note drawing of a smiling face. By the third page my drawings had escaped the additional scraps and sticky-notes – spreading outwards over the pages of that sketch book. Perhaps the hurdle was my conditioned love of …
Today, photos of two pencil drawings. Each with a different purpose – each a step towards print ready, finished art for a children’s literature poem – at different stages of my illustration process. The first photograph depicts a thumbnail sketch – combining layout and my initial spark of a visual idea. Here I’m focussing on the position of elements – the illustrative content and the text for a single page layout – both are intertwined. For the illustrations on the page, I’m focussing on characters and what they are doing – suggesting facial expressions – and any other important visual items. Often, I’ll highlight what I consider important elements with clarifying arrows and notes, because my ideas sketches are quick – mostly a reminder to myself – simply getting the idea down on paper. The second photograph also depicts the child from the thumbnail sketch in the first photo. Design and position on the paper are not important – here I’m focussing on rendering the child and reliant on reference pictures I have in my own photographic library. I shoot a lot of photos – subjects, people, animals, landscapes, …
Illustration with brush and ink demands focus on each line – its start, its length, its shape – yes a line has a shape when it’s made with a brush. This short video is my edit of a morning’s work – inking faces of characters I’d sketched earlier (see roughs in blue) – for a new series of illustrations. As soon as a brush touches paper, I must decide where it’s going – I have a line and there’s no erasing it. If my brush touches the paper and I’m still wondering where it will go – I see which direction the line leads. A face or it’s expression may vary or indeed change when you follow a line – but this approach can result in a happy accident – perhaps, a more expressive quality of line. © Annmarie Scott 2017
I am Bird Lady – with camouflage of Tawny Frogmouth, and stride of Cockatoo. Habitat range? Ever outwards from the nest. Flightless I walk. Eyes watchful as a Currawong. I stand. I wait. Snap nature, pattern, texture, life. Observe, sketch, write – share moments of illustrated life in words and pictures. This is my superpower. The extraordinary in my everyday. Today, bird lady. Next week…cat lady. Perhaps. Nature and human interaction with it, can be a marvellous source of character inspiration. ©Annmarie Scott 2017 This post was written and illustrated in response to The Daily Post prompt Superpower
An illustration may connect with a viewer in an emotive way, expressing a mood or feeling
So why draw birds, or other back yard wildlife you may encounter? This kind of ‘life’ sketching is an exercise in observation – getting to know an unfamiliar subject. It’s a challenge – like the changing light. And like the wind blowing your paper, birds and wildlife move – constantly adjusting your point of view. This kind of drawing requires an amount of simplification – a kind of spontaneous editing of lines before the pen or pencil contacts the page. And the more you practice sketching your subject, the more intuitive simplification becomes. From the outset, you are there to observe – to filter visual information, keeping the important bits because you haven’t time for the rest – to see your subject as a series of shapes and quick lines. And perhaps…if you’re lucky, you may capture a little of it’s essence on paper. ©Annmarie Scott 2016
Above you’ll find a preview – an early version of a new card illustration inspired by the pair of hungry ‘white clouds’ in the nest outside my window. Who could resist drawing these chicks? See photo below. Related Blog post: The Waiting Branch, One or Two?
A pair of Spring Tawnies last appeared in my Post The Waiting Branch when I discovered them in front yard trees. Tawny Frogmouths are often overlooked or unseen because of their branch-like camouflage and ability to stay still. So it is a privilege and a delight to find this pair – to observe their quietly steadfast nature, their watchful protection. And wonder, how many eggs are in that nest – one or two? Insulated from the growing heat, the first Spring storm by an owl-like bird “more closely related to nightjars”. The larger, slightly russet male roosts daily on their nest – a handful of sticks resting on the flat fork of a branch in a paperbark tree, only four to five metres off the ground. The female – a silent sentinel – perches on one of a few favourite branches in a neighbouring tree . I have watched the nest since its discovery and in the fourth week have been rewarded with the sight of a chick – like a cloud of fluff with a beak and an eye. Photographed below, mimicking Dad – tucked low under the Tawny’s wing, …