The things I'm exploring
It's been hard lately to connect with myself since my anxiety is becoming very strong and I am not as motivated. So I tried to do baby steps towards my goals and I can proudly say I finally finished the 32 pages graphic novel I've been working on for my MA. It's 4 finished spreads and the rest roughs, as we were required to do. I'm happy because considering everything I managed to finish it in the best possible way. I can now focus on the essays and then (I can't wait) on the new pitches and projects I'm thinking about.
The graphic novel I worked on is based on a character called Dana. She is a forest spirit inspired to Shinto and Ainu culture, plus North Europe mythology. It's only part one for now, the rest will follow at some point.
This is a bit of one of my favourite pages. I had so much fun researching everything, from traditional costumes to myths and legends and I do suggest to everyone who is into Japanese culture to read about the ancient Ainu culture. It's one of the reasons why I'm looking forward to my trip to Japan.
Working on "Dana" was a good chance to experiment a lot with new techniques and ways to express my art; I loved matching all the greens and working with a palette and I'm now thinking of starting to work with even smaller palettes and gouache. It's good practice.
Since I finished it, I decided to write down as many pitches as possible and to have a look at illustration competitions and similar things so that I can start making my way in the industry somehow. I also tried to work differently and to invest my time in painting rather than using pencils only. I had taken as example some illustrators that really taught me and inspired me with their books and lifestyles. I don't have a "top 10" or anything like that (yet) but here is a short list of these amazing people who got my inspiration up in very dry times.
Katie Harnett - I love her. She has this incredible way of filling the page with color and not a single dull bit. I love her textures, the way she uses the brush and the tiny bits of pencils here and there are just the most relaxing thing ever. I also love that mostly every page in her books have got patterns. Another thing that resonates with me a lot is the mix of comic book and children's illustration that she uses; I still haven't found the right balance but she really gave me a bunch of inspiration. The page down here is from "Ivy and the lonely cloud", a crazy beautiful celebration of friendship, nature and people.
Rebecca Green is an amazing illustrator that I discovered quite a long time ago while I was working at Foyles Bookshop, wondering in the immense kids' books department of Charing Cross Road. I love her art and she has become a big inspiration for her lifestyle too. Cook, traveller, determined and ready to experiment, she always gives me a push with her books and Instagram stories, particularly when I'm low. She is now based in Osaka. Her art style is quite difficult to describe and although I have always liked it, I think the best she's ever done is in her new book "Madame Saqui - Revolutionary rope dancer". The colours she's used, the way she applied the pencils, everything is so incredibly well balanced. I can see so much passion and sweetness and melancholy in this book, I can't even get started on how much beauty it's got. I follow her on Instagram and I read her blog anytime she uploads something - she's so dedicated to her readers and fellow art friends and she is such an example to me. She also shares much of her routine as an artist, which helped me a lot. Technique-wise, I really love how saturated are her illustrations: she has a very specific way of painting, the strokes are always so precise but still leave a lot of space to texture. I learnt a lot from the way she uses the pencils too.
The photos here are from the book I mentioned before :)
Completely different but also completely amazing is Brian Lee O'Malley, who taught me how to work with panels and balloons and humour while I'm illustrating graphic novels. It's my n. 1 reference when it comes to comics, and I've been re-reading some of his works in the last few weeks to orientate myself better while working on Dana. The storyline is just so incredible, the layout of the pages is so well done and the evolution of his style goes from incredible to WOW incredible. He represents another example to me since he's involved into charities very often and he's also made available his roughs on his Tumblr blog - they've been an absolute saviour to me while I was learning how to make thumbnails and rough pages. I love his sense of humour: he can go from funny to existential talk in 1 sec and still be totally great. And the use of brushes and inks is so simple but also so well done. I love it!
The two spreads down here are from "Seconds" and from "Scott Pilgrim" - to be mentioned that Scott Pilgrim was black and white originally and the spread below is part of his latest publication of the whole comic, that has been completely coloured by him.
Said that, I'll add a photo of one illustration I did yesterday to have an idea of how to use gouache paint, watercolour, ink and pencils together, trying to follow the steps of the illustrators I mentioned above and still do my thing :) It's been nice, painting with gouache is relaxing, ultra covering (so it's cool to correct mistake by hand) and dries quickly. I also used watercolour paper (crazy expensive sigh) and it works perfectly with gouache and pencils: I have tried to draw on gouache but it didn't work on other kinds of paper; weirdly the one I used this time works much better.
For now it's all! Stay healthy and strong, take care of yourself and enjoy the rainy weather.