Me and Brain – The Making of: My Kit

I started drawing Me and Brain on any old bit of paper, any sketchbook, with whatever was to hand.  Although it suited my need to get things on paper as inspiration struck, keeping a record and a sense of continuity throughout the comics became more difficult.  Having scribbled on different papers with different pens, it helped me decide which tools would be the best when I decided to draw Me and Brain comics with more consistency.

sketchbookSketchbook: It’s an A4 book decorated with stickers – sometimes I wonder if it’s the most important ingredient of the Me and Brain process…  The paper is pretty middle-weight, about the 120gsm mark, smooth, and not too absorbent as I found that some papers would make the ink bleed, ruining any crisp lines I had intended.

Pen: I discovered I’m relatively uninitiated when it comes to pens.  I usually prefer to work with dip pen and ink – however that would not work for the flow of ideas.  Me and Brain focus on stream of consciousness content rather than technical ability.  The fineliner pen allowed me to put down lines immediately without having to sketch first.  It also has the immediate, slightly more finished look which I felt that pencil didn’t.  drawing-tools

Pencil:  I do however use pencil for Brain.  Using different tools means that I can give Brain some texture without obscuring the face.  The pencil is a mechanical pencil with soft 0.7 lead which has lived in my pencil case since the beginning of time.

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Me and Brain – Our First Conversation

It pains me to think that I used to love blogging, and it’s been 6 months since my last isolated post.  I neglected to feed my ‘inner artist’ for a while, choosing study and workaholism instead.  I felt like I forgot how to be an artist, bereft of the joy it brought to my life.

You may or may not have heard of Julia Cameron, or the book she wrote called The Artist’s Way, but in it she talks of your creativity as an energy like a child.  It is your duty to nurture this ‘artist child’ so that creativity can flow.  I found it interesting to think of creativity as a separate entity that existed within me.  It gave my now neglected ‘inner artist’ a different sense of self.

In the thick of my study-and-workaholism time, I set some time aside to ‘go be arty’.  Having previously chosen to spend all my art time as study time, this ‘go be arty’ scheduling was an oasis of fun in a desert of seriousness.  I readied my pencil.  Draw something.  Anything.

The blank page stared back at me.  The oasis was dry.

Frustrated, I angrily berated myself for not being inspired. I had put aside precious time and my inner artist was not performing as I was instructing it to.

And that was when my inner artist spoke back.

As I grew to understand that my creativity could be a separate entity, it gained its own voice.  This is how my inner artist manifested itself – as Brain.

Brain showed me that my inner artist is not a performing monkey.  Brain argued back when I was busy telling it off for not being inspired.  Brain would make me realise when I was being totally unreasonable.  Brain is often the uncensored me.

As I had this conversation with Brain, I drew and wrote it down.  At first I tried to make it neat, so that drawn Laura looked more like real Laura but the speed in which I needed to get the drawing on paper wouldn’t allow for neatness.  So I drew myself as a stick person; Brain was a sort of speech bubble with squiggles.

I have since had several conversations with Brain, always helping me stay true on my path of creativity.

Below is my first conversation with Brain:

me-and-brain_1sm

Embrace Your Whimsy

I like to think I know about ‘whimsy’ with my quirky sense of humour and drawing style; however ‘whimsy’ is not always specified in a brief when I’m commissioned so it’s nice when someone comes along and asks you to use your expertise specifically for whimsical subject matters.

I have recently had the pleasure to work with Jessica, who has set up a website dedicated entirely to her sense of whimsy.  I was asked to illustrate a header for her website entitled ‘Embrace Your Whimsy, A Tribute to The Beauty of Chaos’.  Perfect!  After discussing her particular interests, the draft came together:

Pencil draft of galeforcewhims.rocks website header by Drawesome illustration

I felt that the way a person grows and follows their interests can be very organic, following a weaving path like a plant.  Although the winding stems of a sweet pea look a little chaotic, the end result is still beautiful.  The feel of the piece was intended to be feminine too, so I decided greens, pinks and purples would set the tone just right.

Illustrated Website header for galeforcewhims.rocks Embrace Your Whimsy by Drawesome

On her website, you’ll find Jessica discussing thoughts on parenting, teaching. books, life, love and more, definitely worth a read: have a look at www.galeforcewhims.rocks  You can also have a look at the lovely things she said about me and the artwork too – thanks Jessica!

Screenshot of galeforcewhims.rocks website with header illustrated by Drawesome Illustration

How to Say I Love You

Valentine’s is a tricky road of cliches and panic.  And love.  Yes, there’s some of that too.

If you’re looking for a slightly more creative way of showing some adoration, here’s a tip that I like to work with:

Do you have a favourite hobby/food/place/activity?  It’s a little unconventional for sure, but telling someone that you love/like/fancy them more than a particularly prized object or activity gives a tangible comparison.

For example, I LOVE granola.  So much so that I took to eating it for breakfast every morning.  Then I started lovingly baking my own.  Sometimes I’ll even eat it for not-breakfast.  Now and then, for a treat I’ll keep a shot glass of granola to hand so I can nibble on it whilst I’m working…

Anyway, if I’m to tell my partner that I love him more than I love granola, then BOOM: that’s a mighty comparison right there.

I also like this technique from other perspectives too.  This was the line of thought behind these pictures:

If I Was…

Something I like about the words ‘I love you’, is that they are so universal in concept that there are lots of ways of expressing them.  My personal iterations tend to be quite off-beat, which helps me come up with some incredibly quirky ways of saying ‘I love you’.  I like to think that I’m not the only person in this world that has a quirky interpretation of love, and that my professions of affection are romantic and not… Just plain ol’ weird.  I’ll let you decide for yourself…pen and watercolour painting of people running from a dinosaur

Now and Then drawing of a girl in the snow

Now and Then

drawing by Laura Elliott age 7Scribbling in my ‘Stories’ book, crayon clutched in fist, wonderful worlds appear where the sky doesn’t touch the horizon, dresses are simply triangles and snowflakes are the size of footballs.  Welcome to 7-year-old me.

Having been through art school, my current drawings don’t quite have the same care-free naivety where objects endearingly levitate.  This is why I was excited to discover the Now and Then project, where for one artwork only, I could re-live the suspension of all artistic and scientific rules.  No more perspective, or pesky gravity!  The project asked artists to find an artwork drawn by themselves aged 8 or younger and then re-create it in their current artistic style.

Fortunately for me, my Mum was sentimental enough to hang on to a couple of masterpieces from my youth.  I picked a ‘story’ from the 15th January 1992 about my favourite weather…  Unfortunately I’d not illustrated my poem about dinosaurs (my favourite line being ‘dinosaurs are naughty’).Laura Elliott 'Favourite Weather' Age 28

Doing an updated version of this artwork was a real pleasure, I like to think that I was pretty faithful to the original.