Sunday 14 July 2013

learning on the job

For some time now I have been aware that my use of the photocopier to separate my artwork into a linework stage and a colouring stage was limiting what I could achieve.  In The Selfish Giant, I knew that colour would play an important part in telling the story; what with the changing seasons and the multitudes of children (who I thought needed to appear as bright and varied as the flowers the narrative links them to).  In early tests I found that the photocopier was leaving so much grey on the page that it was impossible to make anything bright at all.

As I had done with While You Are Sleeping, I tried to develop a new method that would be more apt to the story.  This one would involve using a range of coloured lines, the line colour being determined by the painted colour underneath...

Ultimately I wasn't able to make it work and only a few pictures done this way made it into the book.  I really struggled to get things right first time and ended up redoing artwork again and again and again, which is almost always guaranteed to sap all energy from it.  I also found it really hard to get a mark-making method that worked for both the giant and the children in the same spread.  For every picture you see in the published book there are about five other failed versions sitting in my cupboard!  I'm glad I tried though. By the time I had finished working on the book I had finally begun to develop colour processes that felt more like my own (my earlier post making shapes talks about one).  

I think the first thing they told us in art college was, if you don't take a risk, you'll never learn anything new,  which is all very well but there's a lot of falling on your face inbetween times.


  1. Still yet to see this book in the flesh but I'm really excited to!

    Beautiful plants! I think I said already. I'm obsessed with plants. Being so utterly, almost musically perfect in their forms they are a delight and a bugger to draw.

    I certainly still hanker for way to have freedom of colour and shape that mixes with force of line. The computer (and sometimes printer) in one guise or another gets me closest, but also places me at a distance too. New glasses prescriptions every 6 months are not a positive side-effect either!

    1. The eternal quest to get colour blocks and lines to sit together! Some people seem to manage it so well.. perhaps through some sort of a Mephistophelian pact? You do alright! Is there something you should be confessing? Perhaps the glasses thing is like paying him back in installments ^-^?

      Good plant drawing can make a career in itself. What would Rackham have done without all those twisty tree trunks? And Inga Moore seems to fill at least half of all her images with amazing foliage... Sendak loved covering things in leaves too... I need to get out there and draw more plants!!