Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Barbara Yelin, German illustrator and author. She was demo-ing a live drawing session as part of the Toronto Comic Art Festival. In addition to being an enchanting speaker, Yelin’s artwork is marvelous. I particularly liked some of the images she showed from one of her wordless earlier works: Le Visiteur. In Le Visiteur, Yelin explained how she uses drawing as a means to uncover her characters and eventually, the plot. For example, she described how she would draw an interesting space, and old house for example, and as she kept drawing perhaps a laneway would appear, lined with trees. And in a drawing after that, perhaps a small figure would appear.As she moved (or drew rather) closer, she might discover this character is in fact a little girl carrying a basket of fish. And eventually perhaps another character – a giant of a bird – may turn up. Voila, protagonist and antagonist, respectively. And the story evolves and continues in this way, drawing after drawing revealing who and what happens next. Contrast this with some of her later work, which arguably is more in keeping with the standard graphic novel tradition of page layouts, panels, dialogue and narrative, and related elements.While the latter is sophisticated – evincing thought, planning and effort, as well considerable technical skill (see page spreads in Irmina) one might wonder if there is something, some spark of deep, dusky intuition, that is best nurtured when coaxed from a drawing, as opposed to when words and plot must march to page layouts and drawings must live within panel borders.
Please visit Barbara Yelin’s blog to see more of her wonderful work: http://barbarayelin.de/aktuell/
I’ve been working on a story for some time now and have been trying out a few formats and styles. The first version was wordless, and seeing as that didn’t work out so well, I’m trying my hand at including words. Here are a few draft pages, hopefully they aren’t too difficult to make out… I have a fraught relationship with my scanner as will no doubt become evident. Some of you may recognize the character from previous illustrated posts on Camus quotes. 🙂
Over the last few months I’ve had the great pleasure of working with children via an artist in residence pilot program at Ryerson University. Curiously I think I learned more from them than they did from me…
The first experimental tranche involved working on large painting while encouraging them to do their own. That idea didn’t last too long once they decided they wanted to help me instead. The interesting thing is that the large painting wasn’t quite coming together until they started helping and working with tools and ideas I hadn’t even considered. Check out these tiny little hands doing incredible stuff! Some of them were even jumping to reach the top of the canvas – we decided then that this was dynamic painting in its most literal iteration. 🙂
This was the final happy result, representing about 12 small hands, 24 wide eyes, and 12 open imaginations.
I’ll post a few things on the sculpture experiments another time, but wanted to end this post with the following lovely poem by Margaret Atwood.
You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
this is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.
Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.
This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.
Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.
This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.
It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.
— Margaret Atwood