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<<October 2016>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: sketchbook, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,233
1. Inktober Day 25: Birds and Trees

Birds and Trees. Day 25 of #Inktober2016.

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2. Inktober Day 24: Aide-de-Cramp

Aide-de-Cramp. Day 24 of #Inktober2016.

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3. Inktober Day 23: Tangled Relationship

Tangled Relationship. Day 23 of #Inktober2016.

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4. Inktober Day 22: Tank Bike

Tank Bike. Day 22 of #Inktober2016.

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5. Inktober Day 21: Ponderer

Ponderer. Day 21 of #Inktober2016.

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6. Inktober Day 20: Round the Neighbourhood

Round the Neighbourhood. Day 20 of #Inktober2016.

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7. Inktober Day 19: Suburb Slant

Suburb Slant. Day 19 of #Inktober2016.

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8. Inktober Day 18: Neighbour

Neighbour. Day 17 of #Inktober2016.

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9. Inktober Day 17: Autumn

Autumn. Day 17 of #Inktober2016.

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10. Inktober Day 16: Tree

Day 15 of #Inktober2016. Last night's sketchbook while half-watching the telly.

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11. Inktober Day 15: Little Emperor

Day 15 of #Inktober2016.

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12. Inktober Day 14: Throng

Day 14 of #Inktober2016.

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13. Inktober Day 13: Chairman

Day 13 of #Inktober2016.

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14. Inktober Day 12: Cosmic Carrier

Today's sketch for #Inktober2016.

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15. Inktober 2016

I'd not heard of "Inktober" before, but after a few recommendations, one of them from everyone's favourite anthropologist @DrAliceRoberts I thought I'd give it a go this year. The idea is to post on social media an ink sketch every day throughout October and tag it with #inktober2016 and #inktober. I wasn't sure at first whether the sketches have to be created the same day you post them or can be older, for the first five days of October it overlapped my series on Archives, which included ink drawings, so I just tagged those posts, but this week from 6th October onwards I've been tweeting fresh sketchbook doodles.

Day 6
Looking at the splendorous work from other artists tagged with Inktober some has clearly been laboured over for several hours, but I'm keeping very much within the spirit of the idea and just posting coffee-break doodles, and other down-times grabbed during the day, so these are very rough around the edges.

Day 7
In case you don't follow me on Twitter here's a summary of the last few days worth of Inktober sketches. Anyone can join in, and it's not too late to start now... here's more information

I was offline on Day 8, but this for Day 9.... feeling somewhat adrift perhaps

Day 10. In retrospect I think I might have been subconsciously channelling Mervyn Peake's Captain Slaughterboard

Day 11 - messing about with faces on the TV last night

I'm thinking, well, if I'm going to do it I shouldn't just limit to Twitter, let's put them on my blog, so for the remainder of the month I'll post one a day. Provided I can keep up that is .... lots to do, so few hours in the day.... Read the rest of this post

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16. A History of my Archive in 10 Objects. No.10: Tokyo Sketchbook, 1987

The final item in this History of my Archive in 10 Objects found in my father's loft are two sketchbooks from my earliest days in Japan in 1987.

Just after I arrived in Tokyo in January 1987 I bought a number sketchbooks of various sizes and spent a lot of the first year in particular being the sketching tourist, drawing, painting and photographing downtown Tokyo, the people around me, the whole experience of being in Japan. I didn't think any sketchbooks from early days in Japan had survived, I had a series of major purges for one reason or another over the 21 years I was there, the biggest down-size being at the very end when I left most of my belongings behind and threw away much of my commercial illustration artwork.

These two sketchbooks survived because I brought them back from Japan in the early '90's after buying a house in London, they stayed there until I later gave up the house, then found their way with a few other items to my dad's loft.

Iidabashi, 6th May 1987. This old building stood near the West exit of the station (the Kagurazaka side), and was I believe demolished in the early '90's development of the area. pen & ink.
Street vendor's cart, Yotsuya, 6th May 1987. pen & ink
There are so many memories wrapped up in these pages, that first year in Tokyo was a roller-coaster of experiences - I had a sponsor when I first arrived in the country, they had no real work for me but nevertheless required me to sit in their dingy downtown office every day, doing literally nothing except breathe in the permament fog of tobacco smoke (I was a non-smoker) and hope the editor would come back to the office and give me permission to go out. Initial joy at being in Tokyo was soon replaced by deep unhappiness, after six frustrating months of this our relationship finally unravelled, and I was out on my own in Shitamachi, free but penniless, fraught with fear over the future. These two sketchbooks cover that period.

The office, waiting for permission to leave, 17th June 1987. ballpen

Because I was under-employed (and yet tightly under the watchful eye of the sponsor), I leaped on any opportunity to slip out of the nicotine stained office in Iidabashi and study Japanese in the quiet of the British Council building, or go walk-about in downtown Tokyo. When I eventually found my own place to rent in Yanaka and parted company with the sponsor these sketchbooks were both a comfort and way to come to terms with Tokyo, it's architecture, atmosphere, details, all things that would serve me well later on.

Roppongi, 18th April 1987, ballpen

On the Hibiya Line, 8th October 1987. ballpen
So these drawings were at a point of change for me, initially a creative escape from my sponsor's office, they then became a comfort when I was on my own in Yanaka, it was a time just before things started to move for me, so looking back at them now brings a mixture of nostalgia and vivid memories of the turmoil I was in then.

Mishima village near Sendai, painted during a volunteer weekend with UNICEF, Summer 1987. watercolour
With these drawings I come to the end of the 10 pieces from my archives. Discovering all of these things in my late father's loft has made me very contemplative about my current position in life, especially after his passing. If there's any lesson looking through these old archive things has taught me, it's that change is generally good, and provided you keep moving forward, things will most definitely get better!

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17. A History of my Archive in 10 Objects. No.7: college sketchbooks, 1978-1981

For the seventh selection in A History of my Archive in 10 Objects here are some surviving sketchbooks from my 3 years on the Illustration course at Manchester Polytechnic.

Collection of sketchbooks, 1978-1981
Okey, so this is cheating a bit - these are clearly more than one object! But the contents are pretty consistent and were all bundled together in my father's loft, so I think I can safely lump them together as a single item.

Actually, very little remains of my work from the years 1978-1981 while I was at Manchester, as previously mentioned on this blog I ceremoniously threw almost all of my course work out of the 4th Floor window of Chatham House on the final day of the last term, keeping only my degree show portfolio work. It was an act of bravado, but also a statement of the frustration and disillusionment many of us sensed at the end, I felt I'd somehow lost direction during the course. So I was pleasantly surprised to find these sketchbooks still in existence in my dad's loft.

Unfortunately there's not much I want to share, most of the pages are testament to a struggle within confines I'd placed myself in as a pen and ink illustrator. Some time during the First Year I was told by my course head Tony Ross (yes, that Tony Ross) that painting wasn't really my thing, I shouldn't worry about colouring and would be best served by concentrating entirely on pen and ink drawing, with just a splash of colour. I took this advice rather too much to heart and pen drawing was pretty much all I did for most of the 2nd and 3rd years. When I wasn't galavanting off to punk gigs I spent much of my studio time illustrating some of my favourite novels in black and white - The Wind in the Willows, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Treasure Island, Tom's Midnight Garden, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH... all really imaginative books for an illustrator to explore.

College project: Treasure Island, pen & ink 1980. This drawing survived as a degree show piece.

I saw myself as a black-and-white specialist in the manner of E. H. Shepherd, Mervyn Peake and Edward Ardizzone, it didn't occur to me that in the late '70's fewer and fewer publishers were actually printing novels with text illustrations, that my heroes were all of their time. Most surprisingly of all (and this is something I was to particularly wonder about later), I either wasn't given, or chose to ignore, any guidance to study, write, or dummy picture books, the stock-in-trade of any would-be children's illustrator!

Years later when I met Tony Ross again at Bologna I questioned him about this, and was told, "you have to remember John, it was a commercial illustration course, not a children's book course"... which only partly answered the question. Tony was the head of the course and a children's illustrator, I was the only children's book illustrator in my year (all the others working towards the broader illustration market). I'd set myself very narrow constraints, my pen and ink drawings were still clumsy, the sketchbooks are full of marginalia, doodles rather than dynamic ground breaking work. Maybe I'm being rather hard on myself, but looking through the sketchbooks now from a professional point of view, of the illustration work there's very little I would want to share, I'm not surprised I wanted to throw most of my course artwork out of the window!

College project: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, pen & ink 1981. Another degree show survivor.

However, mixed in with the heavy-handed experiments (which I'm NOT going to show!)  the sketchbooks also contain lots of drawings from life, sketches of those around me which bring back very clear memories of the time. As a break from struggling with pen and ink I drew fellow students, the things around me... it seems the more I tried to be a 'proper illustrator', the further away I was drifting from inspiration, yet the sketches from life have an authenticity and lighter touch I was somehow missing in my course work. Here are a few.

The most ready-to-hand subjects were the other illustration students on my course....
Fellow student Shirley Barker sketch mixed in with a page of course work on The Wind in the Willows, 1979

Melanie Dabbs, 1980
Bob Wood 1980
Jean Yarwood, 1981
Tammy Wong, 1981

... even occasionally the course teachers...

...then there were the places I lived...

A scruffy room in Didsbury, 1980. That's my Corona typewriter on the table.
The All Saints campus from the Halls of Residence, around 1979. Student Union on the right, Oxford Road in the distance.

...and there was the Thursday afternoon life class (regretably stopped half way through the course), which was a wonderful escape while it lasted as it was purely observed drawing.

My eyes were greatly opened by my time at Manchester, not least thanks to the Manchester indie music scene and my friends. The course itself though had narrowed my output and possibly development, but I don't exclusively blame the tutors, I've a tremendous respect for Tony Ross. We must have been a tough bunch to teach.

Tony Ross drawing in my sketchbook margin, I think he was  encouraging me to make my animals fatter.

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18. Slappy the Squirrel

At the end of August, I began to make regular sketches of a character I’d thought of long ago. Slappy the Squirrel was first conceived of maybe 5 years ago amongst a whirlwind of story ideas I was dreaming up. Recently Slappy popped up again during the SCBWI’s LA conference Illustrators Intensive. After graduating in July, […]

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/2c5ghxW

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19. Baby Penguins Sketch


Baby-Penguins-by-Mariana-BlackDay 15: Baby Penguins



Still working on catching up with #The100DayProject animals ... so here's a few baby penguins for it! If you'd like to see the rest of them, click HERE. I've a lot of catching up to do, so off I go to pick another animal, though I may concentrate on panda bears for the next few days as practice for my book illustrations.

Drawn with Derwent water-soluble sketching pencils, painted with Winsor and Newton watercolours, in a Stillman & Birn zeta sketchbook. Cheers.


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20. Band Practice.

Warming up.

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21. Take me too - Illustration process

Another new video showing more of my illustration process from the picture book Take Ted Instead (written by Cassandra Webb).

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22. Hot Dog Princess

Sketch based on this awesome story!

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23. Journeying through the Peaks and the Troughs

So, we approach the end of summer, and for me things are beginning to calm down after months of precipitous highs and lows. Amongst the highs are the release of two picture books - Will's Words in the US (distributed in the UK) I've previously mentioned, but also Yozora o Miage-yo (Look Up at the Night Sky) for Fukuinkan Shoten in Japan..... more on these titles shortly.

Yozora o Miage-yo, written by Yuriko Matsumura
I've talked about these releases on Twitter and Facebook, but the reason I've not blogged about new books, or much else at all this year is due to all the other stuff, a variety of pressures, much of it (though not all) work related, as hinted in previous posts, plus latterly these have been overshadowed by the terminal illness of my father. I'll not linger on these, other than to say that things are just beginning to settle down now.

One consequence of all this has been much rail travel between Norwich and the Midlands for one reason or another, which has seen a lot of sketchbook activity. Having been shut up in my studio with deadlines for so long, just getting out and about is nourishing, whatever the circumstances. When I travel, I tend to sketch and doodle a lot more, lately I've been taking a revived look at my creative direction and position in the UK.

Enroute to the SCBWI Picturebook Retreat in Worcestershire, June.
In June, straight after completing the last of a string of challenging picture book deadlines I was off to the Worcestershire countryside for the SCBWI Picture-book Retreat. This was a fantastic weekend held at Holland House in Cropthorne, focused entirely on creating picture books, led by illustrators David Lucas and Lynne Chapman, both inspiring speakers. There's a full report of the weekend by Helen Liston in the SCBWI journal Words and Pictures. As I've been so focused on illustrating books by other writers the last few years the weekend was particularly effective for just nurturing the neglected buds of storytelling in my own right. Though I've had my own stories published in Japan, I find myself easily disheartened with story submission in the UK, so this was just a perfect weekend.

Most of the retreat attendees, mentors and leaders at Holland House, missing chief organiser Anne-Marie Perks and a few others (photo by Candy Gourlay)
While I was there my father was taken seriously ill, and I spent the following week further north in the Midlands, in Lichfield, travelling by bus to his hospital in Burton-upon-Trent every day. I know Lichfield well, having lived there a year when daughter and I first came back to the UK, but Burton was new to me. The return journey from the hospital meant long waits in in the town centre for the evening X12 express bus, so plenty of time to ponder the sights.

Burton War Memorial
On the wall of the Leopard Inn

It was the time of that intense heat wave in July, the beautiful, lush green of summer contrasted against the declining health of my dad. On a couple of days I gave up waiting for the X12 and took the local village bus, which winds it's way through the villages of Branston, Barton-under-Needwood, Yoxall, Kings Bromley, Alrewas, Fradley and Streethay. Glimpses of the narrow boats... the half timbered cottages... I thought I knew the area, but this was a revelation. A bus crawling the bumpy local back lanes of rural Staffordshire are hardly the best for sketching, but I managed to record his man and his coiffure...

On the local No.7 bus from Burton to Lichfield, 18th July
Staying on my own in Lichfield I ate out every night, so had the chance to try a large range of eateries. The solitude of thoughts and my sketchbook was comforting, as was re-discovering the town.

Diners in the Bowling Green pub, 18th July

I grew up a few miles south of Lichfield in Four Oaks, which I also got to see during this week. I left the area in 1978 and have rarely been back since, I couldn't believe how green everything had become in the intervening years. Standing one night on the platform of my old local station, I was gripped by a sudden bond with the Midlands. It felt like everything was falling into place, every experience framed within context of the circumstances of impending loss.

Waiting for the last train to Lichfield, 11pm, Butler's Lane Station

At the end of the week I had to return to Norwich due to visiting family from Japan, but soon booked another train ticket to Lichfield as my dad's condition worsened. Unfortunately I missed his passing by one day, nevertheless it seemed like I'd already shared a journey of conclusion with my father. I felt like he was with me all the time. He'll be with me in memory forever.

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24. More Peeping on People

Here's a few more sketches of people on trains from all the recent rail trips to and from the Midlands.

Some people are contemplative.... 

...others bemused.
Activities on trains have changed over the years. There was a time when most people would be reading books or staring out of the window. Now there's an awful lot of tapping on little machines.
Though of course still plenty of dozing too...

... unfortunately he woke up before I could finish.

I've not only been drawing fellow travellers of course, whimsical doodles, experiments and so on have also been filling the pages on these journeys, though I've not been sharing my more imaginative wanderings on social media much recently. Partly because of deadline pressure, but also for reasons I outlined last week in this article for Words & Pictures.

However, maybe I'll share some of those shortly.

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25. Slappy the Squirrel

via Emergent Ideas Slappy the Squirrel

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