Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

I will start writing again next month. I’ve found myself some time by stopping counselling young people and running drug and alcohol group work. All really fulfilling activities and worthwhile in terms of outcomes, which I’ve done for the last 13 years. But I don’t believe in an afterlife and there are only so many hours in this one! So I really want to spend more time writing and illustrating and that is what I shall be doing with the time I’ve freed up.

I’ve sold many articles, stories, novels (and puzzles and brochures) over the years. It’s something I can do. It just got pushed out by the editing and proofreading, both of which bring in a more reliable income. So, encouraged by last year’s win in a short story competition and the knowledge that I know how to write and sell, I’m embarking on bringing together some threads. I shall write about or for children and young people – perhaps articles to pitch to magazines and newspapers, as before (but specialising in my more recent experiences professionally) or stories that are either real or fantastic but contain an emotional or mental health truth. As indeed all stories must. These will also be inspired by the needs of young people I’ve met over the years.

It feels like a plan. But in this month of ‘not working much’ (by intention – some people have foreign holidays!), I’ve designed two book covers for two slightly updated fairy tales. One goat is a girl, so no “Billy” in the title! And the Pied Piper is a girl – plus the person refusing to pay her is a business man. I enjoyed drawing and painting the components in watercolour, and also used Procreate App and Photoshop to assemble them. Maybe I’ll write the stories too!

two fairy tale covers

 

I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between painting a picture and writing a story. I find I veer away from making just any old image. I want to make it tell about something that is happening, may happen or has happened. And I think, too, that that’s not a very original thought haha! But sometimes you have to realise something right inside yourself before it can happen in your work.

So – just as we try to paint a word picture when writing, so we try to make an illustration tell a story in itself. Perhaps the link goes back to cave-dwelling times…

Anyway, I saw someone online paint an image in a leaf shape. Fine. It looked good but that was the end of the matter – unless you made it into a greetings card, of course. I did one just for fun, and suddenly found myself compelled to add a figure (picking the berries in the first one). This kind of grew like an addiction and I did five more within different kinds of leaves. I decided to keep the figures in mono (soluble pen actually) but make a link into the leaf-shaped landscape/cityscape.

Strangely the images took over from me and they all became trees. Now that’s pure magic! I hope you find a story in them – whatever it inspires in you. There isn’t a pre-planned one.

wc leaf images

I seem to have spent much of May painting watercolour shoes. First I tried out some new Canson XL 300 gsm watercolour paper and did a few trials of modern ones. I do find feet shapes hard for some reason. But the painting was fun. And I added some scrawled pen lines as they were casual images really.

WC shoe collection

And then, because it had been so much fun, I had the bright idea of  pretending to illustrate a historical article on the evolution of women’s shoes. The first image is a sort of introduction to how we have always focused more on women’s shoes and feet. The others are from 16th, 17th-18th, 19th and 20th centuries respectively. The reason they are on a background is to give them some uniformity, like make them a set. I chose a clock face to indicate “timeline”, then gave them a segment each and simply positioned the shoe on the segment.

Screen Shot final feet

Screen Shot final 16th c

Screen Shot final 17th c

Screen Shot final 19th c

Screen Shot final 20th c

While getting my journal through design and to press at the end of a cycle, I am usually wanting a bit of down time. Time without a screen and time without a deadline or responsibilities.

This time I threw some watercolour around on a 12×16″ piece of Cason XL paper. I allowed both hard and soft edges and used a bit of Indian ink too.

loose wc background

Seeing as how nothing jumped out at me to turn it into via negative painting, I then decided I would sketch a lady and flower and cut a stencil from it. I managed to preserve my fingers (I’m useless with a scalpel!) and placed the stencil over the background three times, moving it around and taking a photo each time, and this is the result.

three wc ladies

I rather liked all of them for different reasons. But not wanting to waste the bits I’d cut out, I traced round them onto the watercolour paper, and stuck them on black paper.

collaged lady and flower

And finally, before chucking the stencil out, I placed it on some mid-grey Strathmore paper and pressed white pastel through it.

pastel stencil lady

This proved somewhat messier, but there you go – I had completely unwound and satisfied the itch to create something!

 

Every now and then I remember to practise drawing the same character from different viewpoints doing different things. You may remember this attempt. I was at it again in the last couple of days, only this time I gave him (or is it a her with shortish hair?) some huge objects to manhandle. I was just being whimsical. But then some ideas came to mind.

Maybe:

He feels little in his family. Maybe he has a skill no one really notices. Maybe there is some incident when he knows he could help but no one even glances at him.

So what happens? *shrugs* Well, maybe he has to surreptitiously assemble the things he needs, in order to do whatever he needs to do to sort it out! So, stretching my brain a bit… he, um, steals the sharpener to sharpen the pencil, then draws the image and finally paints it.

That latter image was meant to be pastel sticks but looks more like watercolour paints – except for the lack of a mixing lid! He struggles to lug this one to his bedroom…

So yes, I don’t have time right now because a 400-page book has to be proofread this week for a publisher. But this is how a story could grow in my head, needing many revisions obviously, but perhaps it could be made to work if I really wanted to.

Nice to have conjured up a spark on a cold, icy day 🙂 Happy new year to you all.

dragongirl-pen-zigbrush-boy

As promised yesterday. How does this work for a pair of writings? Any comments welcome 🙂 Criticism welcome too!

An open book (2)

Knowing the library manager was out till tea time, I made straight for my favourite place down one of the aisles and started picking out all the books in that section that needed mending. I didn’t have to think about it. I’d mentally clocked them up when they came back in less-than-perfect condition. Numbers, facts, photographic memory… If only I didn’t have to work in a library. But it would have to do till something better came along.

Then I heard the main door open with a sough of chilly air, and my heart sank. This dark shut-in building was my womb – and wombs are best left in peace while things develop inside them.

I reluctantly stood up, picked up the damaged books and staggered with them over to the entrance. ‘Can I help?’ I called to the girl. ‘You look lost.’

There. She’d feel as if someone cared. The exact phrase was on page 25 of the training manual, bullet point 3. I could see it in my mind.

She handed me a list. I stared at it in amazement. What sort of person goes into a library with a list? And worse than that, a doctor’s scribbly handwritten list, naming self-help books for the weedy. I now recognise every doctor’s handwriting in this town – they’re all at it, this bibliotherapy thing. What we should do is charge them! And then replace these stuffy old shelves with neat lines of matching, pine-coloured shelving with desks at exact intervals so that people can sit near to where they’re browsing. I could make a proper go of running this place, given a chance.

I offered to fetch the first book on the list, and then, following rule 2, page 30, kept eye contact while asking her for identification. I did start to lose track when she rambled on about eBay and charity shops. Obviously out of work. Probably no good at anything. Anyway, if she was broke, I wasn’t interested in her.

‘Sorry?’ I murmured dutifully. (Rule 10: Keep your complete attention on the client from the moment they ask for help.) ‘Oh yes, I buy my books, too,’ I told her, hoping I’d got it right, and handing her the somewhat dog-eared copy of Managing your Moods. I’d need to add that to the mending pile when she returned it. ‘Yes, much better to own books than borrow them. Though I shouldn’t say that, should I? Not working here!’ (Rule 12: Maintain a sense of humour at all times.)

Of course, I wouldn’t be working here if I could find another job. It’s those stupid interviewers out there who can’t cope with suggestions for improving their businesses. You’d think they’d be grateful to employ someone who could think widely as well as remember all the existing protocols.

‘Have fun with this one, Lucy,’ I added as she turned away. I’m not sure why she looked so pleased – I mean, that book’s dumb.

I toyed with writing something in the first person from two different viewpoints of the two people who had a chance encounter. This is what resulted.

It would be a bit longer than usual for a blog post – 500 words each – so I’ll post one half today and the other half tomorrow.

If I wish you a really good drawing and writing new year (I’m not above a bit of bribery!) will you find time to read both?! Thing is, bribery apart, you only get the point if you read both. Same encounter but interpreted very differently by the two people involved.  I’d love to hear whether you think it works.

And thank you very much for the support in Likes and comments during the past year. Much appreciated in your busy lives.

An open book (1)

I was about to pass the library and pretend the doc hadn’t given me this note, when I found myself stopping. I fished in my pocket for the booklist: bibliotherapy indeed! Oh well, it wouldn’t do any harm to try – might even pass the time. There was precious little to do at home. Nothing interested me any longer.

I tugged open the heavy oak door, and a breath of warm air hit me, sweet and, well, booky. At first glance, the library seemed deserted. The vaulted ceiling and rows of dark shelves reminded me of an ancient church with a preservation order on it – both comforting and off-putting.

I was a bit disorientated because the layout was not at all like the modern scientific collections I was used to at Bellingham’s. There, because I was the chief lab technician, I consulted chemistry books stacked in modern pine-veneered shelves that must have cost a bomb. Of course, if they hadn’t invested so much in their library, maybe they wouldn’t have had to lay us off. It’s depressing how people get their priorities wrong.

This library was so gloomy and uninspiring, I turned to leave.

‘Can I help?’ a voice behind me called. ‘You look lost.’

I turned. A tall young man appeared from behind a stack, with a dozen books piled dangerously high in his arms. His friendly eyes peeped at me over the top. They held an air of alarm.

Caught deserting, I told myself ruefully. ‘No, not lost – but I don’t usually come here. Could you tell me where to find these, please?’ I held out the list, feeling even more like the maiden in distress that I’d become recently.

The man dropped the books in a messy pile on the front desk and took the paper from me. I relaxed a fraction as he scanned the titles. His dark hair was cropped short in a number one, just the way I like it, and his navy fleece gave him an air of cuddly reliability. About thirty. Nice looking.

‘I think they’re self-help books,’ I added, trying not to sound too eccentric. ‘But I only need the top one.’

It took him next to no time to fetch the book from a nearby shelf and return to the desk. ‘I suppose you won’t have a borrowing card?’ he asked. ‘I’ll make you out one if you have some identification.’

I handed over my driving licence and found myself opening up a fraction. Someone choosing to be helpful was a relief actually. ‘I usually buy my books from charity shops and eBay,’ I told him, cautiously putting a toe in the water. ‘We all do. Then, once a month, we go down to the bookshop and choose a new one.’

He looked up with what I took to be surprise on his face. ‘Oh, but not this sort,’ I added hastily. ‘Fantasy and sci fi, crime, thrillers. Nothing too touchy-feely.’ I wanted him to think the self-help books were for someone else.

Surprisingly, he didn’t look pityingly at me. ‘I buy my books, too,’ he said, handing me the somewhat dog-eared copy of Managing your Moods. ‘Much better to own books than borrow them. But I shouldn’t say that, should I? Not working here! Anyway, have fun with this one, Lucy.’

I felt as if life had perked up all of its own accord. He’d bothered to read my ID and remember my name!