“precursor”

This probably seems like a strange one to celebrate 10 years since my original diagnosis, 10 years cancer free.

Sometimes I have bleeding and it stresses me out, but as a drawing this was a dream to work on! The geometry of the shapes, the textures, even a couple of things that went wrong turned out for the best. About the only thing I’d do differently is the highlights on the sarcophagus, which took too much grain from the paper.

Now for a drawing about my sore shoulder!

“augury”

Back in the day I was a fairly depressed young man. Full of woe for my life at the time, but somehow never really doubting my reason to draw or its “success” in the future.

I wonder what that young man would think if he could look forward to now. To my life of security and stability with non-negotiable motivations. To a future of doubt and shades of grey.

With this drawing I was really trying to embrace the outline and flat colours… but I just couldn’t resist sneaking in some shading!

With another gloomy drawing showing through!

brute force

I tried something different on my day off today. Lacking inspiration I went for productivity over creativity. Busted out the big scanner and set up a production line to scan the last few old sketchbooks.

Back in the day I drew mostly in those books, tight and controlled pencil work. Then I moved on, set myself free to go big on coloured paper, go crazy with different mediums.

There’s a good analogy in there somewhere. Letting go. Colouring outside the square. I also tried brute force to help my mental health, with a big night out on the beers… worked for a few hours!

“unceremony”

Our big holiday to Japan was two years ago, and I need to let go.

It was a fantastic trip, to somewhere I’d been dreaming of going since my early teens. We were looking ahead, thinking of other big holidays we’d want to take. New York for my 50th. Venice for Karen, her dream destination. And back to Japan.

Then Covid-19 hit and travel was gone.

We had the photos from the trip as a screensaver, always scrolling past with memories. Two years later I’m still looking, fixating on that trip as a symbol of the world that was. Mourning for that world.

The girls are more focused on our trip to Mildura that’s coming up. The near future not the past. I need to do the same.

ink wheel

It was a practical sort of procrastination on my day off last week, testing out the new inks. I haven’t given up on colour, only the methodology. Washes play nicely with the pencil work, mixes and opaque layers get muddy.

Another day off tomorrow, no excuses!

“muse #5”

I had a small epiphany recently. I’d borrowed a book on the relationship between the painter Klimt and the architect Hoffman.

Always one of my favourite eras, fin de siècle Vienna, I finally realised that the work’s graphic and stylised line work was what I was digging! Whether it’s Art Nouveau or comics it’s the lines and how loose they are that gets me excited. Makes sense of why I was happy with the pencils for “new pantheon” but was really uninterested in the final painted result: the line work was covered up and the shapes became quite lifeless.

Hence this one, whose motivations should be pretty obvious. Black biro in an hour and a half to keep it fresh. muse #1-4 | muse x

“husk”

Funny that I put a lot of time and effort into the last “happy” picture but this three hour quickie was more satisfying! My motivation and self-worth are still a work in progress but there is progress. Shame the flowering didn’t last long enough.

“new pantheon”

This was meant to be pretty lighthearted, myself as a beer spirit, but he didn’t turn out as fat and foolish as I intended! It was riffing on an old theme, when feeling self-satisfied after giving up weed, the unnatural flesh turned into a cannabinoid satyr. My vice of choice these days is definitely drinking beer.

The most successful part of this picture was the discipline to get it done. I’ve dropped a day of work and set myself the goal of just starting drawing first up like it was my job. Rain, hail or headache. Back in the day I used to wait until I was inspired… life is too short!

On the technique side, I’ve hit a bit of a dead end with the coloured inks. Layering the translucent inks over my Copic shading, or over the grey card, gets muddy and throws out the tones. Using up some genuine blue ink on the background, its shiny shellac surface is almost impossible to scan! The greyscale drawings are going ok, but not sure where to next with colour.

A little smug, muddling up the classical references

Years later, finding the break not as clean

“purse of wisdom”

A mangled metaphor about the abundance of clear lessons to be had in this craziest of years. It initially came from pondering the universal ones.

How can anyone deny the reality of climate change while the country literally burns around them?

Why does it take a senseless racist murder in another country for 432 deaths in custody in Australia to even make the news?

How is the science of vaccinations under attack during a global pandemic?

Then I had some personal lessons to learn. Working from home made me feel disconnected and unmotivated, doubting my abilities while lashing myself with guilt for not being more grateful.

I applied for a new job and lay awake the night after the interview worried I’d get it. But I would have taken it just for a permanent position, out of fear of the future and to run away from my doubts.

Not long afterwards I applied to go back to study, not to learn something new and move forward, but to get a qualification for what I already do. To prepare for a fallback career in teaching, out of fear of being an old has-been designer.

Maybe these lessons are just as obvious from the outside. That rather than give up, I should believe in myself and keep trying. That instead of aiming low I should be learning skills to build the projects I’m passionate about.

Maybe I need to be more forgiving, and not just more grateful.

“drone #3”

I just ignored the obvious, and kept plugging away at this drawing. A moment of stress and tiredness amongst a pretty happy year (obvious elephant not withstanding), that got chosen as a good exercise… mechanical is easier than biological! Turned out better than expected, didn’t quite nail the textures

The first one was youthful feelings of vulnerability and loneliness, and a homage to the mannequins of de Chirico, with a “secret” message in the blocks.

Have to look up the date – 1996?

Only a couple of years back, 2017. Love those oil can birds!