The wolf gets RSI with a fibre-tipped pen…
I’ve always loved cross-hatching, since my first exposure to Edward Gorey. It’s just so satisfying, if exhausting – though the Wolf’s four-fingered pen grip may be to blame for the wrist twinges.
Sat at his kitchen table, Gorey would have drawn hundreds of millions of scritty little lines in his long life, composing mysterious, amusing and macabre scenes. He drew smallish pieces of course, but the amount of hatching in each area is awe-inspiring. He kept his compositions simple and focused on story, even if the story isn’t always exactly clear to the reader (see The Willowdale Handcar).
Shortly after discovering The Willowdale Hardcar, I tried my own series of put upon children – “Ye Unfortunate Children of Yesteryear”. And I tried hatching them Gorey-style, though a little more lightly. The compositions for ‘Gwendoline’ and ‘Theodore’ are probably too complex. This type of heavy hatching seems to work best in a simple, flatter composition, which is why I think ‘Aloyisius’ works best of out the three. Suggestions for future pieces are welcome – ‘Genevieve Sweeps the Leaves’ and ‘Ethelred makes the Bed’ might be next.
Lots of fun and shows you don’t need fancy materials to make interesting art.
This ramble can’t go much further without mentioning superstar illustrator David Roberts. Obviously Roberts has been influenced by Gorey, but he’s taken the work to a whole new level of his own (the wolf rants, raves and salivates a while here) – I mean.. the compositions, the characters, the juxtaposition of dark areas and while space, the sense of DOOM (when required) the original settings… the textures. And the bears of course, which you can see more of here.
I like the way David draws wolves here, for Little Red, by Lynn Roberts:
Though he represents wolves less fairly here, for Sally Gardner’s novel Tinder :
The wolf loves looking at David Robert’s stuff but is now feeling a little wan, lacklustre even. It’s just in a different league to the wolf’s work. Looking over the work of one of the world’s most successful illustrators WILL lead to unavoidable comparisons. Pwah. Anyhow, here’s the first of my ‘wolves introduced to Scotland’ series:
My wolves are not nearly as cool as David’s and the hatching is too tentative and overworked in places, so I’m going to redo the whole blasted thing after this.
Let’s be clear though, when the wolf says “This is not good enough”, that means: “It’s not good enough yet, BUT I have the potential to do something really good – next time, or the time after that.” It’s a toothy boast, a throaty battle cry: “I can get better!” The wolf gnaws on the ankles of those daft “Hey! Don’t be so down on yourself!” types.
While I get the pens out again, time to mention two other master (mistress?) hatchers:
Firstly, Melbourne writer and illustrator Elise Hurst. Elise uses lively hatching to create gorgeous fantasy scenes, working up her ideas (and even final pieces) in an A6 Moleskine Sketchbook about the size of your average hand. Her work is beautiful, and a children’s crosshatching workshop last year helped bring my son’s artwork to a whole new level. Here’s a video of a recent book of hers, ‘Imagine a City’:
And the second hatcher is American writer and illustrator Annette Cate, whose wonderful book The Magic Rabbit I first raved about on my old blog about 6 years ago. The Magic Rabbit has a wonderful sense of place, an engaging story and LOADS of lovely hatching. From the magician’s cloak to the bricks on the wall, Annette Cate makes this type of shading look easy – but the wolf can tell you it’s not.
Now to sort out that pen grip, before I lose feeling in the lower arm.