'The place where inspiration hits the page running... A sketchbook to fail and reflect on my work and my process'

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


  I can copy reference pretty well, I can make images look photographic, (if I can be bothered) like these... but these images mean nothing to me except they show that I can copy well, and then that always depends on the quality of the photo. If the photo is bad, my image will be too. I also have to be feeling very patient, as I rarely am.

So my quest is to add soul to my work and to cut out that part of the brain that desperately wants to recreate life as seen in the photo. I have worked really hard over the past two to three years to disengage that part of my brain. It would seem that my natural talent is to copy well, to recreate what I see in front of me. So by working from memory I am taking my ability back to square one, back to the child artist in me. This excites me as the work I then create comes from inside, from that child who is inspired by the world, not wanting to own it but instead wants to share it. This to me sounds like a much more fun and honest way of working.

Every time I sit down and start a painting I have an idea of what I want to achieve, and every time the results depend on my approach. If I want to own the process and be in control, creating a masterpiece (because that's how it looks in my head!) I fail right royally! but if I approach it from an inquisitive and more honest, and humble? way, with no expectations, it tends to work more often. By doing a series of images this helps me take my brain out of the equation too, so it becomes more intuitive and takes the deliberate marks out, because you are already thinking of the next mark, so your current mark holds less importance. The work I did yesterday was ok, bits I really liked, but some I didn't so I decided to work from memory on the same images to see if they were any different... take a look and see what you think? for this to work I have to have seen what I wanted to paint ie the reference, but wasn't allowed to refer to it at all after the first look.

The reason why I'm doing this is because for my children's books in the future, I want to have a realism about them, but not so much they lose their magic and explain too much. I want room for imagination to take it's place in the experience. I believe more of these exercises may help me and may even become part of my process. It kind of is now really. When I'm drawing characters from books I have to use lots of reference until I feel the drawings are mine and the characters have personality. This is when I can freestyle and make them up, adding my own personality (or that of the publisher).

It is subtle but I see the difference and understand a little more how I can make it work. It's about going from a world of realism into a make believe world of magic....and how exciting is that!

subtle difference but I see it... ref v memory

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