After speaking with my tutor and reading about the work of Marion Deuchars in Carousel (the guide to children’s books, issue 64, spring 2017) and her work with ‘Art Play’, I have been much freer in the way I work. As Deuchars says in the magazine:
“I love to look out for interesting things that happen in ‘the mistakes’… creating new and unusual juxtapositions between two bits of coloured paper. Here, in the mistakes, is where I find inspiration that would fall unnoticed without a willingness to embrace art play. [I] enjoy the process of making art as much as the final result.”
As you will see elsewhere in my blog, lucky accidents when painting on wood and when dropping ink onto paper have made it into my finished piece and, I would argue, have really enhanced it beyond my usual style.
I was also interested to read, in the same magazine, an interview with illustrator Shaun Tan, an artist who I have admired for some time and whose picture books I often use in my teaching. The following extract in particular interested me:
“…pens, acrylics, charcoal, scraperboards, photocopies and linocuts are all mediums he employs; even his works in colour all begin being monochromatic. He uses graphite pencil… on ordinary copy paper and then these sketches are reproduced many times. A ‘cut and paste collage’ at this early stage often extends to the finished work, featuring materials such as glass, metal or dead insects.”
I have attempted to use some of this media in my artwork during the keyword project (pens, acrylics, charcoal, photocopies) and this also reinforced for me that there’s no harm in sticking with good old pencil and cheap copy paper! Although I haven’t yet used glass or metal (or dead insects) I did use wood as a basis for my painting which, as mentioned, added a new dimension to my work. Tan uses bottle tops in one of my favourite books of his (‘The Lost Thing’) and I plan to use an old wooden chequers board at some point in my ‘heroes’ project, with the positive and negative squares to host heroes and villains.
In contrast with to Tan’s extensive prep, Tony Ross in issue 69 of Carousel magazine (autumn/winter 2018) says: “I usually draw in black indian ink and coloured Dr Martins liquid watercolours. I do as few drafts as possible. I feel that the first drawings are the liveliest.”
This is more advice I’ve taken on board: to not ‘overwork’ my drawings. Like Ross, I am using black ink for the outline of the characters in my final piece – and am not doing too many drafts so to keep the work looking fresh and lively.
Finally here, going back to Marion Deuchars, I like the quote she ends on: “For me, the musician Brian Eno sums up how I feel… “When we grow up, we don’t stop playing, we just continue to play in our own way, through this thing called art”.