Posts Tagged ‘Style’

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

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I really believe in the benefits of drawing something every day. I always start with a proper sketch, which I upload to a sketching thread on ArtTutor, or sometimes maybe a few thumbnails for an illustration I’m planning to make. I try to fit in some writing too – and that’s all before breakfast!

But at Christmas, a friend gave me a Moleskine Accordion notebook:

IMG_8357

I’d never had one before but have many times followed Lynn Chapman’s adventures  as a resident artist doing similar things (with greater skill haha!).

So I set about it, documenting bits of my life every few days or when I felt like it. And today I got to the end of the second side. (You work through it one way, then it sort of folds over and you work your way on the reverse until you get to the cover again.)

It has been such a fun journey. Here is one of my spreads from a month or so ago.FullSizeRender 8

I might have to buy another, but then I also need a few other things, like, um, food! Although art does tend to become all-consuming 🙂

You never know what will set you off writing. This morning’s combination of triggers was a surprise.

I had sketch-painted a conker in its shell last night while drinking my last coffee before bed. It was only a quick one and could be improved if that were my main aim, whereas it’s only for relaxation and mind-emptying ready for sleep.

But I got up this morning and thought: ‘Must look up the disease that’s killing our conker trees.’

This gave me information just before I finished off reading about the Mad-Song Stanza that rhymes x a b b a. This info was in an article in Writing Magazine – and the only reason I had a copy of Writing Magazine was on account of having noticed a very cheap year’s subscription from iTunes on the PocketMags platform. [Wow – hasn’t this e-platform become brilliant since I last used it. Thoroughly recommended, for WM at least.]

And the only reason I noticed the subs offer was that I had won a competition WM runs (as I mentioned in an earlier post) and wanted to read the judge’s crit of my story! Strange how life happens 🙂

Anyway, the end result of this trigger chain is a little experimental image with a little experimental stanza underneath it. Food for thought too – nature trying to right itself.

conker

TREE SKIRMISHING

The conker tree’s at war

with moths that mine its leaves.

But friendly mites

take killing bites

inside the pupa thieves.

Over the last year or so I have only written articles, children’s picture books and some (many!) editorials. I do a lot of editing of sentence structure for a variety of reasons. Sometimes to refocus on the main point, sometimes to clarify the point I thought I had already made clear(!), and sometimes to fit the need for brevity.

It occurs to me that this year alone I have got letters published in the Daily Telegraph many times. Not long-winded, knowledgeable, informative ones. I leave that for the experts. Mine have been succinct, salient nuggets destined to cause a grin, a reaction or a very precise point. I claim this openly without pride. The reason is that you don’t get published unless your letter arrives exactly how they like it. It’s a salutary lesson in focus and crafting to editorial need.

Edit and re-edit

What no one knows is just how many iterations I scribe compared to how many I do for an editorial (three routinely) or a short story (a few). The ratio of revisions to word count is astronomical! I cut and move and alter and exchange until the shortness, succinctness and rhythm of the read (sometimes only two sentences) is as perfect as I can make it. And it’s written one day for publication the next, because relevance and fit move on rapidly in the news world.

Here are three of my successes (the first will not make sense without the trigger but that’s how you join in a conversation in Letters. That and starting with SIR!):

SIR: “Somewhat quaintly; not too sentimentally” (Letters, 6 March) is the most likely result, in my experience, if the piece is played on an old harmonium with bellows operated by foot pedals. “Somewhat breathlessly” will certainly apply.

SIR: On reading Shane Watson’s piece on what makes us posh or not (Features, September 6), I vividly recalled being at a small gathering of parents from the local private school. Suddenly a voice boomed: ‘Who cut the stilton like this?’ I glanced at my husband, who raised his eyebrows slightly and shrugged. To this day, I have no idea about stilton etiquette. And don’t care. If that’s classed as not posh, I’d rather be normal.

SIR: Keith Taylor’s simple solution of installing a call blocker (Letters, October 25) is unworkable. The firms involved regularly change their number and I have no wish to stand by the button rejecting each one.

I hope this inspires you to try writing a letter to the editor of your favoured newspaper or magazine. The year has been good to me in my writing world and I’m looking forward to Christmas and a few days’ break 🙂

I read the news about the latest plan to fine CEOs if their firms conducted unwarranted cold calling. Immediately an image sprang to mind (well that’s what you would want in the heat of a commission, obviously, if it were one!). So I sketched it out.

cold callers.jpg

I knew straight away the pool of tears was OTT and thought I’d better have a few different ideas. I also knew I’d need some snakes and some telephones to make a more accurate image, even if I stuck to my normal hand-drawn, sketchy feel.

So I came up with the idea of a sledgehammer because these callers ‘bash’ you persistently. Trouble was, snakes don’t use sledgehammers – although I reckoned they were okay weaselling their way down the telephone line.

sledgehammer idea.png

I also thought of depicting a woman (it’s always supposed to be old women who are frightened and scared of cold callers!) with the snakes wrapping themselves round her neck while she listened to their hiss (a silent cold call??). Bit far-fetched, that one. The sketch is too awful to show you!

I would have offered the above choices to an art director and been happy to pursue either of them (never offer what you would be miserable doing ever more of!). But as this was self-originated, I worked on the first idea – sometimes the one I’m passionate about it the best to work on. It ended up like this.

cold calling menace.png

The change to a stick person works so much better emotionally. And as usual, I coloured some of the line work and rendered the main part. You can see others in a similar style in my portfolio. Have a good week, enjoying whatever you love doing.

Of course, I suppose I need a style for each different kind of work. But a surprising thing over the last couple of years has been to find how much I like drawing in softish graphite on cartridge paper in a sketch book, and then scanning it into a painting program. This is what I do to make this style.

I change the sketch to black and white (in Manga Studio 5/Clip Studio Paint, that’s called binarization (with a z), under Layer>New Correction Layer, but you can do it lots of ways). Apps usually offer you around 127 as the suggested value for changing shades to black or white. I find I need to alter this to get as much black as I need for any one image. After this I colour on the computer, either on a normal layer underneath or on a multiply layer on top. Lots of variations of this process are possible, of course.

The end result looks like this – not that I think this image is a great painting or anything! Just quickly showing you how the messy black seems to add to the image and make it less “digital”. The style is a work in progress – you may see an improvement eventually.

pumpkin girl