Monday, 28 March 2016

Drawing out a story

I’ve been given a weekly column to illustrate this year, and like a wet tea-towel fight, it can be daunting, but fun.

Surviving in a modern working environment

The author of the column’s observations are not only perspicacious, but delivered with the kind of self-effacing wit which makes me LOL embarrassingly while reading through the latest draft during my commute.  I wish I could write with a fraction of the sharp and droll perception of the every-day that Leah McFall does.  But best of all, I know she likes the artwork I’m contributing to her page because she took the time to write me a lovely email saying so.

The other force behind the page is the Sunday magazine editor, who I have also never met but communicates regularly by phone and email.  She has a very young-sounding voice, but I wouldn’t make the mistake to equate this with inexperience.  Refreshingly she also isn’t shy to prescribe a style when she commissions artwork for me. Sadly, I’ve known illustrators who throw down their brushes and flounce dramatically from the room at the very thought of this, but I like it.

Having reached 50 I still don’t especially have an illustration style of my own, and am only too happy to bend, stretch and insinuate myself into a technique established elsewhere, if it works for a particular brief.  I like to think of myself as a chameleon, but maybe I’m really more of a plagiariser…
By coincidence, the editor suggested a style which I had experimented with for an essay illustration over Christmas.

Not an illustration for the column, but a kind of prototype of the style,
accompanying a Christmas tale about a disastrous family holiday.
I can recognise that producing an unself-conscious, expressive line is one of my weaker areas, so I’ll avoid outlines where possible, and fortunately the technique suggested completely avoids them.
Here is a selection of the illustrations so far.  The column itself, in the Sunday magazine supplement of the Sunday Star Times, can also be found online by following the links below these images:

The fine art of small talk - a random conversation with a fisherman.

An imaginary photo-shoot described in a column about ageing gracefully(?)

"Mummy, why can you see the moon in the daytime?"

Some surprising information comes to light about a favourite children's YouTube series.

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