I was at a writing workshop in an art gallery and I was drawing more than writing. It felt good to be drawing outside of my familiar surroundings. It is something I would like to get into the habit of doing more often. I was drawing from life, making quick sketches of the people around me, mostly fellow participants in the writing workshop. But also I was drawing bits of the artwork – the bulbous abstract sculpture, the banknotes pegged to a washing line – and I was wondering if this was drawing from life too.
Later, I was drawing over the top of what I had drawn from observation. Doodling between the lines, extending the pencil marks, pushing the shapes in different directions, finding new interpretations. A kind of redrafting. It’s good when reality and fantasy can feed into each other.
The exhibition-based writing workshops are called Drawn to the Page and I can recommend them – more info here
With last year dominated by the completion of my MA Sequential Design/Illustration, this year my path will be split in three directions (but they will hopefully support each other). Firstly, I am writing a PhD proposal exploring the development of early animation. Secondly, I am developing the workshops and story-based drawing courses I’ve been running into content I can start teaching at degree level. Finally, I will continue working on exciting creative freelance commissions and collaborative projects.
I will also keep drawing for myself and generating images like the mystical marmoset, welcoming in 2016, below. Happy New Year.
So I’ve completed my Sequential Design/Illustration MA. The exhibition, from all the feedback we’ve had, was a great success. It was great to see everyone’s work up on the walls and to feel like we’d worked together to make it happen. And I’m pretty pleased to have achieved a distinction at this level. But more importantly than that, I’ve opened up a research area that I plan on exploring much further. The development of the language of moving images, from looping animations in optical toys, narrated magic lantern shows and experiments with sequential photography; feels like it is worth more investigation.
My project explores the stories of Charles-Emile Reynaud, George Albert Smith and Eadweard Muybridge and looks to express how creation and destruction can go hand in hand.
Below are some images of my space in the exhibition: three phenakistiscope optical toys with looping animations (viewed in mirror through slots of disc when spun) that relate to each of the three graphic biographies on the shelf below them. Also below, the rough digital test versions of the looping animations.
(photography by Joe Lau)
Just under a year ago I began my MA in Sequential Design/Illustration. And now my final submission has been completed and I am eagerly awaiting our exhibition, beginning next week.
Exhibition at The University of Brighton, Grand Parade Gallery
10am – 5pm Saturday 19th and Monday 21st – Friday 25th September 2015
The course, and the project I proposed, have been quite an undertaking. There have been lots of late nights and stressful moments. But also, it has been immensely rewarding. Not just in the development of my project, but also in how involving the course has been and in how brilliant the people I’ve met on the course have been.
My project is described like this:
The Animators of Pre-Cinema & Their Demons: How cinema was created through destruction
Graphic biographies of three moving image pioneers representing three strands of animation development (chronophotography, optical toys, magic lanterns), their paths converging with the emergence of cinema. The three books will be supported by three looping animations.
It was a lot to get my teeth into with so much historical information to uncover and so much interesting imagery to explore. But I really benefited from lots of support from staff and peers and expertise from within the University and beyond it. And moving image history is a subject I plan on investigating further. Below are a few taster images from the chronophotography story.
So a few years ago I attended a Myths & Fairy Tales course in creative writing (at Evolution Arts) with the idea of developing my storytelling skills. I enjoyed the writing but I also couldn’t resist responding to each of the sessions with some little sketches too. From the Red Riding Hood session I created a series of drawings that became the ‘Wolf Woods’ image below. The course tutor, Wendy, suggested they use the image in the course brochure and from there people have seen it and contacted me for canvas prints to put on their walls. It’s exciting that doodles on the margins of a notepad can go on such a journey!
For my Visual Narrative unit on my MA course I had to create a sequential response to the story of Rumpelstiltskin. To relate this to my main project (looking at early animation techniques) I decided to create three phenakistoscopes showing looping animation sequences based on imagery from the story. A phenakistoscope animation is displayed when the disc is spun facing a mirror and the viewer looks through the slots around the edge of the disc as they pass by the eye; creating a flickering image in the mirror. It was interesting to note that the flickering effect dulls and disrupts the colour sequences much more than the silhouettes. But still, I tried to be quite ambitious with the content of the 12 frame loops.
Below: I’ve included an image showing the development of one of the discs, scanned line tests from youtube and an image of the three final discs together.
I recently spent a weekend in a crypt. This was the crypt of the derelict St Elisabeth’s Church in Eastbourne and it was playing a part in Eastbourne’s Artist’s Open Houses. It is a crypt with walls decorated with beautiful Feibusch murals and these are apparently under threat from the whole building being torn down.
I was there to see the captivating storyteller Sally Willow perform her Goddess in the Crypt story. I’d collaborated with Sally in producing a series of small handmade books and we had some of these available over the weekend. One of these books was a retelling of the Red Riding Hood story (emphasising the rites of passage into womanhood) called ‘Red’ – I provided some wolf drawings, which I enjoyed getting my teeth into…
So I’m studying an MA course in Sequential Design/Illustration at Brighton. Part of our Visual Narrative unit was to create and present a project that delivered a surprise in a sequence of six images or objects. I looked to create a simple six image illustrated story (a dog asking a series of town-folk if they have seen his missing bone) that would then transform into a looping animation when skipping through the images quickly. A moving image sequence disguised as a series of still images. I used silhouettes to mask the transitions between one character and the next but also I liked the timeless, Lotte Reiniger feel that this created. I found it really interesting and challenging to find a balance between making each character different but finding similarities to thread together the animation.
Also recently went to see Tales of the Night by Michel Ocelot as part of Eastbourne’s Film Society screenings. That too, seemed very Lotte Reiniger inspired, with silhouetted characters performing a series of light-hearted subversions of myths and fairy tales.
Earlier in the summer I was tasked with creating a ‘wonderland-like’ landscape, populated with colourful creatures and plant-life, to help establish a brand identity for a company called Happy Energy. There were definite challenges in creating a composition that was bustling with life and ‘happy energy’ without compromising the focus on the main house and the family in the image. There was lots of adding things in and taking them away again. But even when things started to look balanced it was still one of the busiest images I’ve worked on. See development stages below.
So much of the drawing I do involves drawing and redrawing things until I’m happy with them. Or until someone else is happy with them. It’s nice to have a side project that involves a bit of spontaneity. So I’ve been splashing, splodging and dabbing tea around on sheets of paper and then looking to see how I can draw faces from the shapes of the tea stains once they’re dry. It’s fun, I recommend it.