“That looks twee!” said Barbara as she looked over my shoulder this morning as I was colouring in this cartoon. She’s right, I don’t normally do cuteness, so it’s been a strange experience, working through this cartoon course (see previous posts), as I’m obliged to try and work in someone else’s style. Again, I’ve changed the subject matter; this exercise in colour harmony features a monkey and a pile of bananas in the original example but I thought I’d include the daffodils that are now showing in our garden border and the large ginger cat that has adopted our back garden.
My priorities for the back garden might be attracting wildlife and growing vegetables but the ginger tom sees things differently:
- stalking practice; sitting on the patio watching the birds on the feeders
- liquid refreshement; using the pond as a watering hole
- comfort break; using one of our freshly dug raised beds as the ultimate cat litter tray
This huge, fluffy ginger cat also enjoyed a spot of crazy breakdancing, pouncing this way and that on one of the veg beds like an overgrown kitten at play. The sparrows who normally hang around in the adjacent hawthorn hedge flew up in agitation, chirruping in alarm, apparently unsure what to make of this crazed predator.
Continuing with the cartooning course, these are experiments to test how colours will blend in different media; in my case I used my regular watercolours for the peacock, coloured inks for the rainbow trout and Sharpies and other marker pens for the butterfly.
It’s a rare opportunity to use my Pelikan inks, which have been sitting in the back of a drawer for decades and getting them out makes me realise that I need to sort out my art materials. For instance, the cheap sable brushes that I bought years ago are now too splayed to be a pleasure to use and some tubes of gouache have dried out and set solid.
However, I still have enough tubes of gouache to try the exercise for building up a furry texture using a fine brush and this opaque medium. Apart from changing the species from a bear to a weird kind of furry fox, you can see I’ve stuck pretty much to the examples shown in the book, The Professional Step-by-Step Guide to Cartooning, (left, behind my bottles of vintage ink).
In the next exercise – which demonstrates the way you can use a limited colour palette, in this case red and blue ink – I substituted the cowboy in the book for Roundhead commander ‘Black Tom’ Fairfax, who pops up in my latest booklet Walks around Ossett.
I think that I’ll eventually be able to relax into a personal cartoon style but this drawing looks rather stilted as I was simultaneously following the style of the cartoon cowboy and the content of the equestrian portrait of Fairfax. The fanciful background sketch of Thornhill Hall (accidentally blown up at the end of Fairfax’s siege), which I’ve substituted for the wild west background of the cowboy, looks less self-conscious than the horse and rider.
I came across The Professional Step-by-Step Guide to Cartooning by Ivan Hissey and Curits Tappenden a couple of weeks ago and after the final push of getting my walks booklet into print, I thought that I deserved a bit of a change, so I’m going to have a few days off to go through some of the practice exercises in the book.
My main thing, of course, is drawing from nature, so why should I be interested in cartooning? This book is a practical introduction to drawing as a way of telling a story or communicating an idea, which is what I try to do in my publications. If drawing from nature was my sole concern, I could just as well present my drawings in isolation – framed on a gallery wall, for example – but invariably I present them as a sequence, along with varying amounts of text.
I’m hoping this book will make me rethink the way that I tell stories and communicate ideas in my publications.
Opposing Black and White
This first exercise calls for fineliner pen (I used a Pilot drawing pen) and black Indian ink applied with a number 3 round brush. Starting it in pencil, I’ve closely followed Ivan Hissey’s step-by-step but I’ve gone for a geological context rather than the darkened room of the original. I like the woodcut style, where you aim to balance the black and white portions of the image, but to get the sharp gouged line of a woodcut calls for some confidence and forward planning when you ink in with the brush. In the places where you can still see my drawing pen line it comes over as too soft and tentative for this style of cartoon.
I look foward to getting a bit more practice . . .