It has taken me about two days to sort my thoughts out and get back into planning and progressing. I had the opportunity to attend an ArtStory workshop on portfolios held by Sarah Davis - illustrator.
Working backwards, this is how the day went...
I'm going to start at the end and work my way backwards, mainly because the day ended with this wonderful exchange of artwork. Sarah chose one of my pieces and in return she gave me one of her pieces. From the book Toucan Can! It's pages 4-5 'Toucan dances! Toucan sings!' ... I have taken this as a sign. A good one. I am certainly on the right track, and now I'm in possession of a beautifully illustrated piece of artwork by an illustrator whose work I admire. Things couldn't get any better than this.
After great cups of tea - people who know me, will understand my obsession with a good cuppa! - we set to work. We had by this stage, reviewed our work and had come up with a plan of what needed to change or improve. My main areas were characterization and composition/POV. I absolutely agreed with this, so I set to work. We took one of our previous illustrations and discussed how we'd redraw it, with perspective, POV and composition in mind. What should the viewer feel? Where should the action be placed in order to evoke an emotion. Well, although I'm getting there with everything else, I haven't really stopped to think about this. Not enough. So I decided to review the banner I've just completed for the CBCA.
Although I am pleased with the piece - it is compositionally for a banner - I realize for a children's book, it's a little less dynamic. So, we set to work, using a series of thumbnail sketches to come up with a different point of view, something that would engage a younger viewer in a book.
I'm going to redo this one - make it more engaging. I've put an 'x' next to the one we talked about. HOW WONDERFUL! We also went through character development... I need emotions, facial shapes (MORE) and the notes go on. References to great illustrators. Looking at Sarah's originals and techniques, made me realize, I need to forget technique for a while, stop trying to do what the others are doing and settle down into the story and really the best way to tell it. I'm absolutely ok with this.
What a cold day! The train journey was good. I drew and relaxed more than I have in months. On a train, there's nothing to do, but sit really.
At Sarah's workshop for Sunday, we started with a review of our portfolios - there were only 3 illustrators and Sarah, so we all felt quite fortunate to have that time with her all to ourselves. This was a pretty unique day - for all of us. Presenting our work for the first time. Discussing strengths and weaknesses, rating our work and others. It made me realize more than any; no one can work in a vacuum, no matter how solitary working for yourself becomes.
Sarah and the attending illustrators, provided me with feedback - written and verbal. This included what I need to push the colour work I already have - don't throw it out, just improve on it. Which is what I've started doing; reintroducing the hand drawn element that I know and love.
These have come out particularly vibrant on the blue, which isn't this bright, but the rest is pretty accurate - these are having a final highlight coat. But even in this, the workshop helped reinforce something with me. I feel this is right, I just have to work on it. I'm not getting the same results with the digital because I actually really love mixed media....
I showed many pieces at the end, and I'm glad I did - just took it all along and let the group decide. The responses were positive, and I'm going through the feedback slowly... half scribbled pieces next to a doodle is a little confusing.
Line work wise - keep two styles. One hard flowing line, and a second more textured, just as confident line. Sarah showed us her visual diary and the techniques she uses. What a day.
I can't say how my showcase will go, at this stage, because I am also going to aim for 12 new pieces with realism in there somewhere... I'm still researching the groups suggested artists to investigate. But I'm confident I can do it by July.
Thanks to Sarah and the illustrators who attended, along with the StoryArts Festival Ipswich group and Jenny Stubbs... opportunity like this doesn't come along every year.
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Tanya is a traditional and digital artist, living in Brisbane and inspired by all that is 'Art'.