How to brew the best cup of tea whilst having an existential crisis

This comic was inspired by the fictional self-help book titles of Johan Deckmann.

A big thank you to all my friends at Get Messy for yesterday’s hilarious discussion about the book titles we would create. The two I cooked up became the subject of today’s comic!

Advertisements

Action Man and Space Woman Build a House!

This piece* is influenced by the Season of Contrast that’s taking place at Get Messy right now. What happens when two seemingly opposite characters get together to work on something? Can each see and value the other’s qualities?

*Is this a visual poem? A comic or a comics poem? An art journaling spread? A movie poster? No one can say for sure!!!

What about all the other moments?

what-about-all-the-other-moments

I went a little wild today layering paints on top of each other. The result is a bit chaotic! I really enjoyed playing around with comics on the page and exploring the relationship between the panels and the surrounding space.

When I started art journaling a few short weeks ago, I felt a little anxious that starting something new would mean leaving comics behind. I’m so excited to discover that the opposite is true: the realm of comics is expanding!

Chorus

Chorus:
Is your world borrowed
From the man in your life?
Buttoned-up,
Rolled-up,
One-size-up?
Unmask
The force inside
And joy
Comes out of the blue.

* * *

This page began with a wonderful gouache tutorial from Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd as part of the Season of Art 101 over at Get Messy. I didn’t have any gouache on hand so I used acrylics instead. I discovered how immensely enjoyable it is to paint an entire page with black gesso. I also enjoyed writing with a white pencil on a black background – the effect is like chalk on a blackboard.

I had imagined that these women’s faces would look cheerful and upbeat. Instead, when I had finished, I found that they looked serious, like they had something important to say. As they looked directly out at me from the page, they reminded me of a chorus of women in a Greek Tragedy. I looked through several plays but couldn’t find anything that touched on what I wanted to say.

Then I had the idea to use a cut-up poem technique. It’s a very simple technique, often with surprising and powerful results. I found all sorts of interesting words in an old Vogue magazine. I didn’t have a fixed idea of what I was looking for, I just cut out whichever words appealed to me. When I was done, I laid all the words and phrases out on the table and began to group them together until a theme emerged.

It seemed natural to me that the women of the chorus should speak in cartoon dialogue bubbles. I love to bring together the different things that I do and it felt really satisfying to bring both poetry and comics into this art journaling page!

Take me with you

It’s one of those moments: I’m really enjoying the Totems class over at Get Messy and I’m loving this taste of the wild and wonderful world of art journaling. 

Yet whenever I start exploring something new, I can end up feeling like a creative harlot. I get anxious that I’m abandoning the things I’ve been caring about and working on — in this case, comics! 

What better way to explore this than in an art journal spread that is also a comic!

You can check out some of the things I’ve been getting up to in the Totems class here and here

Ways in to colour

postcard-from-the-beach

After spending almost all of 2016 working in black and white, I decided it was time to play around with some colour. So I set off on my winter holiday with my little Koi Sakura sketch box of 12 watercolours, determined to give it a go. But the task was not so simple. I realised that while I associated the world of black and white with clarity and simplicity, the world of colour seemed to present an almost dizzying array of choices. Where to start?

wave

In Picture This, Lynda Barry gave me the perfect way in:

Can you color a picture if you have only one color? It’s a good thing to find out. The only color we have for this picture is brown. we start with a pale layer, let it dry and then add darker layers one by one.

melting

This technique was a wonderful way to experiment with colour without getting overwhelmed by choices. I could focus on areas of light and dark, greater and lesser intensity. It was like working with black and white except more… colourful! And it was a great way to really dive into the qualities of each colour: the bright sunlight in yellow, the cool moonlight in blue, the heat in orangey-red, the lush of the trees in green.

drivin

I love holiday photos and usually take way too many. But these paintings capture the feeling on the inside in a way that my photos don’t seem to be able to do.

moonlight-dancing

When I began using this technique, I had the idea that the addition of colour to a piece would bring chaos and lack of focus. Instead, I found that it can bring a new kind of focus. By the time I came home, I found I could experiment with several colours at a time without things becoming too chaotic. Now I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, leaving the black and white of Kansas for a whole new world of technicolour!

If you are at all daunted by the thought of using colour in your work, this is a great way in. One colour at a time, one layer at a time. Give it a go!

You can see more images from my holiday sketchbook here.

It’s time to live!

Today’s comic is one of my favourites from early 2016. Nearly a year later, ‘How To Be An Insurance Salesman’ still cracks me up. And it reminds me that calculating risks is no match for an adventurous spirit and an open heart. This is a great thing to keep in mind as we begin the new year: It’s time to live!

Thank you so much for joining me this year on all sorts of creative explorations. I really appreciate all your visits to Follow The Brush and all your lovely and supportive comments. 

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year. May 2017 be filled with creativity and joy!

Slowing down 

Shaman

In December, everything seems to speed up in as if time is running out. Then, after Christmas, there is a pause. It can seem as though there’s no movement – the stillpoint of winter. 

All sorts of things can happen in a space where not much seems to be happening. All you need to do is retune your dial…

Seer in the Dark

The Drawing Mind by Deborah Putnoi is filled with drawing exercises that access an intuitive approach to creativity. So far, I have tried drawing with my eyes closed, with my left hand, even with my feet!

My favourite exercise from the book so far is drawing to slow music. It’s not surprising that this, in turn, slows down the speed at which you draw. Not knowing what comes next. Just following the pen as it moves across the page, a bit like following a dance partner as they lead you round the dance floor. 

One of the lovely things about this way of drawing is the feeling that you have all the time in the world. This expansive sense of time allows you to dive into the experience of drawing. 

Rain

The piece of music I chose for this exercise is 17minutes of 7hours by Don Li from the album, Orbital Garden. It is a beautiful piece that invites a meditative state of mind. And I found 17 minutes is a great length of time for a slow drawing. If you need longer you can always press repeat!

Hitting the dance floor

Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life…But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and details.

Natalie GoldbergWriting Down the Bones

I’m thinking the same must be true of cartoonists. I certainly enjoy the moments in my day all over again when I draw them as cartoons. This effect is enhanced when the moment I am capturing is already a celebration. 

I used to love dancing but a nerve injury in my foot has caused my dancing shoes to gather a considerable amount of dust. Then, last night, I went to a beautiful wedding and my husband and I danced together for the first time in years.

I have recently been experimenting with a new form of rehab which is allowing all sorts of things to become possible again. The band was playing and the lights beckoned. I thought why not give it a go? I was surprised to find my feet moving to the beat and that wonderful energy moving me around the dance floor. 

Today, drawing this cartoon, I get to enjoy that moment all over again and to celebrate new possibilities. 

If you don’t do your dance, who will?

Gabrielle Roth 

The Queen of the Underworld cooks dinner

One of my favourites from Lynda Barry’s Syllabus is the suggestion to draw yourself going about your day as Batman. I had a go at this some time ago and the cartoons still crack me up each time I look at them!

Then I wondered: what other characters could be going about my day? The Queen of the Underworld immediately popped into my mind and it turns out she was the perfect fit.

photo-08-12-2016-21-17-07

The Queen of the Underworld has brunch with her BFF

One of the things I love about this exercise is that even if you try to remain faithful to the ordinary activities and moments that occur during the day, they can’t help but become extraordinary (and just a little bit hilarious)!

photo-08-12-2016-22-49-36

The Queen of the Underworld brushes her teeth

This is a perfect thing to try on those days that seem unremarkable and uneventful. Eating porridge might seem uninteresting but what if you were an astronaut? A movie director? A shaman? A mermaid? Why not give it a go?

photo-08-12-2016-22-47-12

The Queen of the Underworld visits the spa

Where I’m From

where-im-from-1 where-im-from-2 where-im-from-3 where-im-from-4 where-im-from-5 where-im-from-6 where-im-from-7 where-im-from-8 where-im-from-9 where-im-from-10

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now and it feels like the beginnings of a much bigger piece!

Another Face


The mirror showed me another face.

Continuing the poetry comics adventure. Things are getting weird and wild!

The street is not a street


I am diving into comics poetry this Autumn, inspired by Bianca Stone‘s online poetry comics class.

What is a comics poem and how do you go about writing/drawing one? In the happy absence of fixed methods and definitions, I began checking out this mysterious territory.

I started with the text from my recent poem, Fox, writing it out by hand and cutting up all the phrases so that I could see each one separately. Certain phrases jumped out at me, suddenly potent when freed from their neighbours.

I drew 4 panels inspired in part by the original poem, in part by the new arrangements of text that were emerging. The images in turn led to new text choices, this time word by word.

If you compare the 2 poems, they are completely different. Or perhaps the comics poem brought out a layer of meaning from the original?

One thing I find interesting is that when I originally wrote Fox I had some idea of what I wanted to say with the poem. However, with this comics poem, I’m not sure what it’s about! The construction of it was more intuitive. There are more open spaces and possibilities of meaning.

I think I’m going to enjoy this adventure!

Chapter 4: The Great Rodeo in the Sky

In which our heroine meets old friends, takes part in the Great Rodeo in the Sky, and traverses the universe on the back of The Great Bull made of stars.

cowgirl-21cowgirl-18 cowgirl-19 cowgirl-20 cowgirl-22 cowgirl-23 cowgirl-24

I hope you have enjoyed ‘The Cowgirl and the Golden Lasso’. Thanks for following our heroine on her adventures!

You can catch up on previous chapters here.