Spirit bears or Kermode bears are a variant on the North American black bear, they live in Canada, near to the Great Bear Rainforest. A mutation in the black bear's genes, called Kermodism means that 4/10 black bears are born white.
It has also been proved that the spirit bear is more successful than the normal black bear at catching fish in the daytime; salmon are more wary around darker objects coming towards them!
Spirit bears have long been an inspiration of mine, so my bear Finn seemed like a good character for the blog.
Most illustrators have been using digital techniques for years of course, and whilst I frequently scan artwork and send digital files, it hadn’t really occurred to me to make digital images as such. The last straw? It’s hard to say but I read that as a result of working on 'Lord of the Rings' Alan Lee now works digitally. Can you believe it? He’s a fantastic draughtsman, a wonderful watercolourist; it's the sort of work I aspire to; I had nowhere left to hide, so I resolved to have a go.
I don’t simply want to reproduce the sort of work I make traditionally, so I’m playing with the differences between imagery that is obviously drawn and the more shiny stuff that you can do with Photoshop. And, maybe because it also suits my learning curve, I quite want to see the join between the two; it creates a lovely visual tension that reminds me of early stop-frame animation; Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin’s ‘Ivor the Engine’ perhaps.
There’s a story that I wrote some time ago but have never really tried to illustrate, (strangely, because I couldn't decide on the right combination of techniques). It’s called ‘Glum the Weaver’ and it seems to fit the digital/analogue idea well.
‘Glum was a weaver and he had a shop in the town, but no one went there anymore.’
‘He was an old grey man in a world of bright new things.’
You get the analogy of this now grey-haired illustrator in the bright, new digital age. Glum’s is a slightly dingy, drawn world where he thinks and works as he has always done. Flora, his granddaughter, brings him colour and light and he starts a new way of thinking and working. It ‘made the town an even brighter place and Glum a happy man.’ So, together with traditional work, like Glum, I’m going to pursue this new way of making pictures and see where it leads.
FMI has another great new talent joining the books this week. Irene Dickson introduces herself with some fabulous samples of her work. "I am so excited to be joining Frances’ group of wonderful illustrators, and doing what I have always wanted to do!"
Here's a little gem that I had to share with you in it's entirety. 'How to be in Love' by C.T.Doran. The perfect little gift book just waiting for a publisher! Click on the images to enlarge the pages, read the text and enjoy the details.
This is a little project I've been beavering away on of late, just a bit of fun to amuse myself and escape a bit from briefs and editorials. The idea originally came to me while on a trip in the foothills of the Andes ages ago. In South America the main way of travelling is by incredibly long bus journeys (32 hours was my longest) so that gave plenty of time for an idea to germinate. Of course being back home and finding the time to actually do it is another story.
This story came about after a very upsetting meal out that I had one Sunday. To cut a long story short, due to health issues, I have lead a very restricted diet, and sometimes when I go out to socialise where food is involved the situation really gets to me, and then I had an idea . . . . !
I have been developing a story over the last few months, and I now feel that I have got the character looking how I imagined.
This all came about, when an illustration which I painted many years ago, of a very simple grey and black tiger, seem to trigger off quite a bit of positive feedback from my portfolio when Frances showed it at various meetings. They seemed to like the vulnerability of the character and although he seemed sad he still had quite an appeal about him. I had originally painted this character with my usual inky stick technique, (as it sounds a stick dipped in a pot of ink,) and my fingers to print the stripes on, I also produced a giraffe and some other animal friends like this too. Now because of the way I used the black ink, whenever i tried to add colour to the tiger, it never seemed to be as effective, and he seemed to lack the very quality he had in the first place. So for this reason i decided that although he was to remain black and grey, for him to appeal to children in a book, he needed to meet some colourful friends, and for there to be a reason as to why he felt so grey!
I know that Frances, has introduced my Tibbs story at a few meetings, so I am hoping that with time, and with the right development of the artwork, he will become a real printed book character one day!
Heres a few lines from the end of the story . . .
Tibbs still felt grey, but maybe not quite so sad. He stopped and looked up . . . . . . and something very beautiful and very smiley looked back down at him. . . . and then Tibbs saw something, something that made him feel the most cheery, the most bright, the most smiley, the most happy, the most beautiful that he had ever felt before. . . . Jill Latter
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See Jill's work at the Images 34 exhibition – the Best of British Contemporary Illustration 2010