Tuscany highlights

I know I’ve been rather quiet of late on here, but this year I have been very lucky and achieved one lifetime’s ambition – to visit Tuscany.  After a Prosecco-fuelled 10 days of art pilgrimage with my mum, I have finally seen paintings, frescoes, buildings and landscapes that I have been dreaming of for 25 years!   So whilst we hit the Uffizi, traced the Vasari Corridor across the Arno, contemplated the Annunication at San Marco and watched the swifts circling the Duomo in Siena, we also made it to other highlights, Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross in Arezzo and his Resurrection in Sansepolcro.  Unbelievably the latter was just revealed after a long restoration.

When life gives you…

The wonderful Museo Archeologico in Arezzo has a fantastic collection of Roman and Etruscan artefacts, one of the most beautiful being this gold-glass portrait; and one of the least beautiful being this temporary exhibit:

Here’s a few sketchbook pages, they don’t really do anything justice but are a record of a very happy trip.  Now off to re-watch Room with a View and The English Patient…


Characters and gestures

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with IT exams in my other life recently, but eager to get back on the graphic novel-case. I’ve been reading Scott McCloud’s excellent book Making Comics, and as a really, really green comics reader I need some steerage at this point.

I’ve realised my figure drawing is very ropey after many years not doing it! Inspired by Scott talking about comics artists working in silhouette for full figures, I’ve been playing in Photoshop trying to capture gestures and character in some background scenes. I’ve been using pencils and graphic pens for years on this story, so a fresh approach being less precious has been a bit of a relief!  They are very much of one perspective but I don’t mind that at this stage – I’m seeing it as more of an exercise.

I enjoyed putting some background in to see how effective the characters could be in context.  As I was working I found my brain filling in the three-dimensional figure, a bit like the way I find producing drawings on black paper in reverse to be.

I also love silhouettes and they are an 18thC speciality so it will be interesting to see what ideas come of this!

Laundry women
Two men arguing

Character sketches

I’ve been working on more detailed character studies for my graphic novel, in between refining the narrative and the storyboards. I feel like it is increasingly taking shape, but simultaneously have had the realisation that there is more work to do now as my ambition grows for it; I want the people and the world around them to feel believable.

Nothing like a challenge eh?!

After Gillray, 1789

Faber-Castell pens

Can’t take credit for the lovely colour palette.  Whilst the original caricature is all about making fun of the French, this is not a political comment as a) I was interested in the costume, b) I like them a lot and c) I’m testing out these new bad boys!

Mmmmm pens – super Christmas present