Sketchbooks that I’ve been working on this year. You can imagine the pile that has accumulated over the past half century of my work!
“What have you gotten out of a life time of journaling?”
Writing my ‘Wild Yorkshire’ nature diary for the Yorkshire Dalesman has meant looking back over the past 16 years of my sketchbooks and blog. It’s been a chance to review my work and to think about where I’d like to take it next.
Since my first online post on 4 October 1998 here’s been a gradual evolution, starting with a simple, sketchy format based on a nature journal that I kept in the mid-1990s. This became more ambitious and when I met art journallers Danny Gregory and Dan Price, I felt that I wanted to go a step further and put a lot more effort into my drawing.
Under the influence of the two Dans I went drawing mad and some of my favourite pages date from that period unfortunately they don’t work for my Dalesman unless they also tell a story. However evocative the drawing, a mossy stump on its own isn’t enough for my Wild Yorkshire column; I need a stoat rummaging around in its nooks and crannies to bring the scene to life.
I’m now trying to combine more ambitious drawings with stories that might hook the reader in.
Problems with People
Although I describe myself as a wildlife illustrator, riffling through those old sketchbooks I found that I liked some of the drawings that made me smile were of people in everyday situations, for instance the shoppers queuing up at the cafe in Ikea. I would like to draw more people but as I post everything online I feel that there’s a privacy issue! I can say what I like about the aggressive mistle thrush that this week has been bullying the blackbirds so that it can have the crab apple tree to itself, but you can’t write stories like that about family and friends, fun though that might be!
“Can an artist have shaky hands?”
I’ve been reflecting on my work today as Danny Gregory has been interviewing for a feature that he’s planning to run on the Sketchbook Skool. He wanted to examine the issues that I raised in a post a couple of months ago about dealing with shaky hands, not looking at that particular condition but considering how apparent limitations – such as a physical disability or living in a less than inspiring neighbourhood – can spur creative innovation.
I commented that I’d love to have perfect vision – colour, high definition etc – but we all have to learn to live with the hand we’ve been dealt.
My current books in print.
In discussion I concluded that the shaky hands and my partial red/green colour blindness hadn’t done me a lot of harm as I’ve been able to do the kind of work I love doing throughout my career.
Link; Sketchbook Skool
Willow Island Editions, my publishing imprint.