and introducing #lefthanddrawing
... and here we are back in #inktober2016...
I believe this is my fourth year. It's incredible how each year my work has changed. My first inktober was really a hard task, with very little tolerance for the medium, and no idea what or how to manipulate it, I set myself no more than 1 inked drawing a day; even at the beginning, the frustration was incredible. My preferred mediums were graphite or pastel and I just couldn't get this to work.
I remember getting to the mid month point and wanting to give up... I think the rule of thumb is if you can get past day 13, you're onto a good thing... anyway, I believe my first attempt had me almost throw in the towel around about then... brushes, ink everywhere!
Even in high school, my ink was stronger, and my line was finer... I did 'that thing', you know where you say "I used to be much better at this"... but then I learnt the art of perseverance and practice. After that first year, I started drawing every morning, and carrying a brush pen and inks with me wherever I went. I haven't stopped doing this.
By the second attempt, I still hadn't found my 'way' but decided to master the medium. And that I did. By the third year, I was whipping up about six or seven pieces a day - mainly children's illustration - with a hope of finding a format I could use ink as a medium for these books.
After some time, I realized that the strong, bold lines probably weren't meant for children's stories.
Not a problem, I thought, I'd spend year four finding my genre....
This is year four, and I've found my 'play time' most rewarding, to the point that now I am able to find new ways of applying ink... this month, I've engaged in smaller formats (Milini books with my favorite brush pens) and also the #lefthanddrawing versions, which incorporates the use of the left hand for inking.
#lefthanddrawing - this doesn't come without it's challenges.
Ink, firstly, smudges terribly through my left hand. My favorite brush pens hate me, and frustration of not getting that bold straight line had me sweating.
Another interesting point here is the use of the Left/Right Brain combination/science, which I am very interested in....
So, again, I have learnt to mix my mark, re-find the kink and explore ink further.
... or even just because...
What a busy time! Freelance, home and studio changes, upskilling, down sizing, side-ways reviewing; you name it, 2016 is certainly developing it's own 'unique' manner. Once I reconnected with this thing called prioritisation (I know right? Knee jerk reaction, get Thee behind me!) the focus became all new ventures. And they certainly have me chanting 'feel the fear and do it anyway'.
The biggest change so far has been in pursuit of Personal Art Style Happiness. Some people don't enjoy change, especially in their artwork practice - I get it, style is style, subject is subject - which is often where strength lies as and identified successful Visual Artist. As a commercial artist, one of the major advantages I've found is being able to mix and match style for a job, or client need. And although this is important, the shift from personal to professional work certainly isn't easy, with the traces of the 'job' sprinkling your personal artwork for a period of time.
So, recently my own artwork had taken on a certain bi-polarity. The struggle here is that one needs to re-think each morning about value, style and subject - the easy route is just to draw what you did the day before, in the style you honed in the most recent job.
I stopped for a time, purchased a new visual diary (I must be the Imelda Marcos of art diaries), started spending more time reflecting on what subject matter really appealed to me, stopped looking at other's artwork.... wrote a list of 'works I'd want to exhibit' and wallah! an old interest was ignited along with further experimentation of my own style...
With renewed prioritisation of my own Personal Art Style Happiness:
Value (i.e. how often, the purpose of what I'm wanting to explore on a personal level etc.)
Style (i.e. technique, method and experimentation for change) and
Subject (i.e. meanings, symbolisms developed connections of connecting both value and style...) I have identified my 'muse' or 'my magic'.. making me a very satisfied unicorn.
A few months on, one thing 'out of the bag' is that I'll be exhibiting my artwork again.
I also started taking commissions for said artwork, which was a big step, because I seem to get quite 'hoarding' - not being precious about my work, but potentially not trying to promote my personal artwork either...
So... onwards and upwards...
Romancing the Stars 2016
Images and Video by Peter Allert
The event held last Thursday was nothing short of a whirlwind romance - meeting 20 of the recently published Australian authors and illustrators (2015-2016) in no less than three minutes. Pre-event mingling - talking books, publishing and sales, snacks, wine and 3 minutes per star - afforded all listeners a 'sneak peak' into the climate of children's book publishing in Australia this year; what's being published by whom. From picture books, all the way to young adult fiction, the cross-section of skills and experience had all attendees wanting more!
Acclaimed authors including James Moloney, Jennifer Loakes, Pamela Rushby, Michelle Worthington, Yvonne Mess alongside Samantha Wheeler (both fellow WriteLinks members), Zarkora writers Nicholas and Alison Lochel (image below); all kept us riveted through tales of research, historical facts, personal comedy/tragedy, professional endeavors and publishing toils.
Talented illustrators and fellow B.I.G members Helene Magisson, Anil Tortop (image below), Brian Faulkner and Giuseppe Poli discussed the tribulations of the 'creative approach to book publishing' in all it's 'bare all' meaning... their processes, working with publishers and authors, and most importantly, those VERY. VERY. LATE evenings... changing goalposts and deadlines. And yes, a little gossip was swapped...
Overall, an informative evening out... talented authors and illustrators really keep this going, along with the co-ordination and support of BookLinks, IDTL and CBCA.
One of my goals for the year was to keep working with ink. I worked through a Skillshare course run by Yuko Shimizu - the queen of inking - and I think as I worked through the course, and these Ladies, things started to evolve - my line work loosened up, tonally there was improvement, and of course texture, which is Yuko Shimizu's big thing. The objective was to do one piece with at least six varied patterns, textures or bleeds in it. Since I'm obsessed with the straight line, this took me a little getting used to, but once it became clear, the line hindered the style, things began falling into place. Not just with the zodiac but other works in the pipeline.
The other plan here was to follow through - twelve images over 3 weeks. I draw early morning, before the world wakes up, so these illustrations had to be done during that time 2-3 hours then. By giving myself that time in the morning, there's no guilt I should be doing something else, and let's face it, for an illustrator, what an incredible way to start the day... so as it went: day one of each: pencil and then day two: ink... some of them took a little longer because I did get a little intricate, but that's where getting back into the detail felt so good.
The objective for each collection, is not only to explore a subject I'm interested in, but change up my method and techniques, to find better ways/materials/techniques to work....
As for the feedback received. Each morning, I'd post my social media update, kept me on track... they were well received, and a few have been shipped off to their respective zodiac owner... I'm ok with breaking the set, I'm not too precious about my work and they've gone to good homes.
Next collection has already started... check out my daily updates on instagram (tealhempo) or twitter @tanyahempson...
Hello New Year... what took you so long!
Wasn't that an interesting end to the old year? 2015 saw many changes to my professional and personal life. Because of this, favorable tasks fell by the way side (including blogging... hangs her head in shame, knowing how important these things are), while other tasks took interesting directions in terms of priority. These shifting priorities left me 'in limbo' for a few months there, and so I decided come January 1st, there'd be no New Year's Resolutions. Rather, I'd wait until I was back into the swing of the new year before making any plans.
I see this as a positive step... starting anything NEW won't be how I am viewing this 'new year'... rather a REVISITING and getting rid of the 'bits' that don't help further the common goal. Anyway, the many many lists I've made to date of actual STARTS to projects, now see themselves as moving forward with the smaller actions underway.
Alongside this, changing priorities include:
No more free work instead...
More freebies on my site and prints will become available
More professional develpment
More meeting like minded artists
The list reads more like a series of affirmations, doesn't it.... aaah!
And the list goes on. But the most important thing there is - MORE... I'm already doing many of these things, it's really just revisiting them and making them a priority. Moving out the tasks I don't want to be doing any more. I.e. Saying 'No'
The year ahead looks good!
Friday 11 September
Terry Denton – illustrator, writer and ‘adventurer’ extraordinaire, presented to a group of illustrators at the StoryArts Festival on Friday. The main subject: Storyboarding.
Terry entertained us with plots of past and future projects, surrounded by the exhibition of his works from the Many Story Treehouse; a collaboration between himself and writer Andy Griffiths.
Terry spoke of his and Andy’s experiences with that series and how it differed to other projects he’d worked on, storyboarding – from concept to creation – and the publishing industry at large. We also had the opportunity to ask questions and have a look at his process pieces, including art work from some of his earlier authored/illustrated books (Felix & Alexander) all the way through to most recently published Jandamarra. With thirty years experience, Terry was really able to capture the essence of his love of books in the presentation, alongside his process and evolution as an illustrator/writer.
Terry moved around the walls of the exhibition, talking through the various art pieces, and characterizations and pages from the Many Story Treehouse. Pointing out and talking of book covers, to character sketches, roughs all the way to final illustrations. This man is prolific and diverse. As we saw by the artwork that goes into the Story Treehouse series, the process is extremely hands on, collaborative and extensive, spanning years of process refinement.
Later, we were handed sheets of paper and a loose scenario. Without being overly precious about it, we all got to work, loosely sketching out a picture book. This wasn’t about finer detail planning layout but story ‘making’. I think we all felt a great sense of adventure!
Terry Denton has illustrated for many of Australia’s top writers such as Andy Griffiths and written more than 20 books himself.http://www.terrydenton.com/
Tanya Hempson is a Commercial Artist/Designer and children’s book illustrator based in Brisbane. http://www.tanyahempson.com/
Story Arts Festival Ipswich 2015
Story Arts Festival Ipswich is a mammoth event organised by the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian network, headed by Jenny Stubbs. This year there were 44 presenters spread over the 285 School sessions scheduled, 13 events for families out of school hours, and three days of 32 intensive workshops for the adult program.
For the full archive of activities, visit:
So, a couple of weeks ago, I attended this fantastic boutique market where the founder of Bee One Third - Brisbane's urban beekeeping pioneers - was speaking. "We activate rooftops, backyards and community spaces to engage the local ecology in pollination through placing our European beehives throughout the neighborhoods of Brisbane."
His talk was so interesting that I started reading on the value of bees in urban locations... in fact, I started hearing about bees at least once a day. Seriously. Everybody is talking or posting about bees. From social media, to school books, to radio stations, parents meetings, local markets, international climate forums etc. Could be I wasn't really paying attention to the bees, until someone stood in front of me and told me me why I needed them in my life?
Image from FB https://www.facebook.com/mamavation
WHY BEES ARE AWESOME
We all know they pollinate flowers and in the most basic terms, flowers give us fruit and veg along with many other amazing facts:
A worker bee can visit 2,000 flowers per day - that's a lot of flowers!
Honey bees maintain a constant temperature of about 93º F within the hive year-round - temperature shifts, mean the bees move; longer term temperature shifts mean they don't come back.
A single honey bee worker produces about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime - so expect over 60000 bees per hive... with one Queen Bee... but let's face it, she's got a pretty hectic job, laying on average a million eggs in her life time.
Australian native bees don't sting!
European bees produce more honey than native bees; one of the reasons being, European bees can reach "... 4.5km further than native stingless bees, and are able to pollinate more of Brisbane's diverse plant-life. Their honey production is also far greater than that of stingless bees..."
That's not to say you wouldn't have honey if you had access to, or owned a hive of stingless bees in your garden/ on your street. etc. My street has about four hives along it, all with bright and cheery signs saying 'they don't sting'...
I love the buzz of bees too - insects in general. Visiting Mexico two years ago, I couldn't help but put my ear to the ground of the old ruins and listen to the sounds of millions of small bees working tirelessly to keep the queen and the hive going. Another story in there, I'm sure.
I do read articles/listen to people who twist their lips at the concept of 'no bees no food' - environmental issues in general... there will always be fruit and veg, and food for all etc. Yes yes, but perhaps if we focused more on what we could do to make even the smallest difference, then it wouldn't seem like such a 'task' if we all pitched in... save the bees I say... for all the skeptics out there, feel free to keep the GM trade going...
We all love honey! Buy or make your own... get involved
Visit the Bee One Third website for more info: http://www.beeonethird.com/faq/
It's Done! And for a good PURPOSE too!
TWO THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT MYSELF THIS WEEK
I follow these really inspiring illustrators, authors, creatives and I'm always blown away by their dedication, creative prowess and sheer abundance of work, self promotion, marketing, and overall ethic...I spend a fair bit of time looking through portfolios, websites and techniques - in fact, I'd say about 25 percent of my whole week is dedicated to looking at others' work. And therein lies the dilemma. When is too much enough? Am I inspired, saturated, or just exhausting my potential but spending too much time looking at the artwork of others?
Along a similar vein, I recently took on a project where another artist 'left off' so to speak, and whilst some artists would have just scratched the previous works and started again, I said to myself, I have been given someone else's artwork to work with; this is a commercial endeavor with a very short deadline, and there is need to separate the desire for 'owning' art, vs. infusing my own style where I could. The outcome of the work was totally my style, but with someone else having set the scene (i.e.by having done many of the initial layouts), and rather than hinder, it gave me a different perspective - it was refreshingly 'not me' as an initial approach and perhaps collaboration would should be encouraged more.
I'm sure I'm not alone in these two points - when is too much of others enough, and how much of my work is my own... if that makes sense.
Well, after a little thought and research I found, I'm not alone. If fact there is quite a debate raging about bad art becoming worse through 'un-discerning appropriation'... badly produced art being copied, styles that are copies of copies etc. While this may be true, I certainly have picked up fabulous style and techniques from my peers.
I have also become more 'discerning' in terms of where I look and who I look at... so whilst the general google 'artist\illustrator' search is fine for meanderings, having focus in terms of who I look at minimizes this saturation. For some artists, this research can affect confidence in one's own abilities - I don't find this the case; I look very carefully at what it is they are doing well, what I enjoy about their work, and go from there. In terms of saturation, I research and in this I am saturated. I set myself a task to not look at others' work for a week, but I failed miserably - from Instagram, to Facebook, web alerts, rss feeds, weekly newsletters. I was enticed out of this action, and I'm ok with it... perhaps I'll aim for one day, rather than one week... try to solidify my 'thing' for a few days because I figure my style is evolving every three to four days. While this seems excessive, consider your own works and influences...
Anyway, meandering indeed - open thoughts definitely needing further writing, but for now just two observations.
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Tanya is a traditional and digital artist, living in Brisbane and inspired by all that is 'Art'.