I had so much fun drawing the ducks in this park, it’s made me rethink my story — instead of my sequence about a crow, I’m going to do waterbirds instead.
This black and white bird is called a bar-headed goose.
Trying to capture the movements of one duck preening its feathers.
My teacher suggested that because my sketch pages are so busy, it can be quite hard to single out some of the figures. For example, I really loved this moment of the moorhen being quacked at by the duck, over on the edge of one page, but I had to point it out to him. He said I shouldn’t be afraid to draw in a bigger pad and give each drawing plenty of space to breathe.
‘You’ve already got lots of stories — each one of these drawings is a story, just in one image. You need to break them up into a sequence. So for example, coot is walking — close-up of coot’s feet — coot is walking again — duck jumps out — coot waddles away in the other direction. There’s a little sequence. If there’s more space on the page, it gives you room to play with the drawings and re-order them.’
He also gave me some useful tips about setting/context — so next time I go out, I’ll draw the birds, but I’ll also try to hint at where the action’s taking place, too.
This week we had a seminar from illustrator Paula Metcalf. Alongside Paula’s neat portfolio were lots of folders of loose rough drawings, ideas and workings-out. My friend Hannah has written an interesting blog post about this here.
I also find the formality of a sketchbook quite tense and daunting — the feeling that it’s a book already, so everything in it needs to be polished and perfectly presented. Ideas and doodles can sometimes flow freely on scrap paper, which is a much more relaxed and friendly place for a pencil to be. It really is helpful to see other artists’ creative processes in this way and I’m so grateful to Paula for letting us have a peek into her world.