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remembering the fallen in greenwich

Today wasn't as bitterly cold as yesterday, and I went down into one of the valleys of Greenwich Park in hopes it might be a bit more sheltered from the cold. The paths around Queen Elizabeth's Oak were treacherously icy, and as I drew, I could hear early morning dog walkers calling warnings to each other, broken by disconcerting yelps and WHUMPS as they hit the ground.

(copied from the plaque in front of the other side of the tree)

I got a bit of critique on my drawings a couple days ago, when I met up for lunch at Panda Panda with friend and DFC colleague Woodrow Phoenix. He was very encouraging, but said that I still hadn't found my mark-making vocabulary, that my lines still looked a bit randomly placed, and as though three different people had done it. Which, to me, was unsurprising, because my figure drawing tutor way back in Pennsylvania said almost exactly the same thing. I don't think there's any way to build up a mark-making vocabulary other than keeping on with the drawings. They're not bad, but they could be much better. And as I said to Woodrow, the more I work on one area of image making, the more the other areas of my drawing improve, even if they seem totally unrelated. He said sometime he'd show me his tree drawings that he makes in Hilly Fields Park.

There's a great interview with Woodrow over at The Comics Bureau here, do go have a look! If you read my book When Titus Took the Train and saw the dedication, he's listed (along with Viviane Schwarz & Gary Northfield) for giving me some very helpful advice and lent me a bunch of his Western comics when I was waffling a bit at the beginning. (He's mrphoenix on Twitter.)

And don't forget, next Monday, the amazing Posy Simmonds is giving a talk near Brick Lane in East London for the monthly Laydeez Do Comics event. See you there!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
I'm not sure
I'm not sure what he (Woodrow Phoenix) means about your mark-making vocabulary. But then, my mark-making vocabulary is probably even more splintered than yours. It's not something I have given much thought to.

I'm not exactly sure what it is.
Dec. 12th, 2010 08:44 am (UTC)
Re: I'm not sure
Hi, David! I can't remember exactly what he said, 'mark-making vocabulary' is my phrase summing it up. But it's to do with my cross-hatching, having a sort of personal systematic approach to tackling everything. I'm still experimenting a lot with different ways of drawing, usually all at once in the same picture, so they don't have an overall unity. At the same time, the sketches need variation of line and tone, so the picture doesn't look lifeless; I guess it's all a clever balance.

At the end of the day, all it really means is that I need to keep drawing, which suits me just fine. :)
Dec. 12th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thought there was a relevant quote about this subject from Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai.

Went looking online...

It's probably this one:

'Since the age of six I have had the habit of sketching forms of objects. Although from about fifty I have often published my pictorial works, before the seventieth year none is worthy.'


'At seventy-three I learned a little about the real structure of animals, plants, birds, fishes and insects. Consequently when I am eighty I'll have made more progress. At ninety I'll have penetrated the mystery of things. At a hundred I shall have reached something marvellous, but when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, the smallest dot, will be alive.'


'If Heaven had only granted me five more years, I could have become a real painter.'



Matt Badham
Dec. 12th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Matt! That's actually very comforting. And it's nice to know we can always get better, not regress.

There's another story I heard, possibly attributed to Hokusai, or maybe just one of those generic Confucius kinds of stories, about a painter who's commissioned to paint a rooster. The client badgers him about it for years, and when he finally goes to the painter's house, the painter completes the painting in front of him, in just a few strokes. The client feels ripped off, and can't figure out why it's taken the painter so long. But then the painter takes him into a back room, where the client discovers thousands of paintings of roosters, all made in preparation. And finally the client gets it.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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