Taniel

Sketch of TanielA stylized sketch.

Taniel is one of the main characters from my upcoming novel, Wanderlust. His face is a little too thin here, and he looks slightly elven—no doubt a result of my current Tolkien kick.

I believe I’ve posted the most drawings of Vanya, the blonde one, and spent more time talking about Vanya than Taniel in this space. I did create Vanya first, and he is exceptionally dear to me—but Vanya never worked as a character until he had Taniel. Vanya is a sort of mysterious man-child, a wandering waif with a harp. This works as an archetype, as an idea, but in terms of story he needs someone to engage with. Wanderlust is written in very limited third person, and we see the whole story through the eyes of Taniel. Taniel’s thoughts provide readers with an access point to Vanya, and to the story. He is Vanya’s sine qua none; without him, Vanya could not function as a character and, indeed, Vanya could never embark on the adventure of a lifetime that is chronicled in Wanderlust. They didn’t know it, but before they met each other both Vanya and Taniel were waiting for their lives to begin.

And there, I’ve talked about him all in terms of Vanya again. It’s a little inescapable, as they both exist for each other. Yet who is Taniel?

He is a band manager when the story begins, having turned to the business side of music when he decided early on that he didn’t have what it takes to become a professional musician. He has worked very hard for a very long time, and most of his life centers around work. He doesn’t have very many friends. He is health-conscience, rule-abiding, and something of a scholar. Though prone to panic and quick bursts of anger, he has always felt most comfortable with himself when he has someone else to take care of. He is an orator, a dreamer, and a teller of stories, but he was forced to be practical very early in life, and he needs the influence of Vanya to re-discover his creativity and appreciation for the beauty and magic of the world.

Does that whet your appetite? Knowing this much about Taniel, would you pick up my book and read more?

This Sketch

© Grace Makley, 2012

This is very much a sketch, and still contains many inaccuracies. I’m posting it because I’m probably just going to start another sketch instead of polishing it up into anything. I had an “OMG I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE MUSCLES OF THE HUMAN BODY” freak-out this afternoon (do you get those, or is it just me?). So I got out my books (how many variations of the title “Anatomy for the Artist” do YOU own?) and read some things and panicked and drew some muscles and drew some REALLY BAD drawings and panicked some more and finally made the above image, which I created from scratch while referencing pertinent muscle groups. Like I said, it is not anatomically perfect AT ALL, but it has, at least, calmed the panic. I’m going to keep working from the books and maybe I’ll post some more anatomy study drawings here in the next few days.

Rewrites are Wrenching

Rewriting is funny. Kind of like time-travel is funny. Kind of like back when we all had  VCRs (I still have one) you could hit record, and tape a new thing over something you’ve already recorded. That’s the feeling I have right now: I hit record on a new scene and I’m watching it play out, and as it plays out, it’s erasing some things that already occupied that time slot in my narrative. I think the new scene is better, which is why I’m letting it run, but the old stuff wasn’t bad, you know? I’m sad to see it go. The nuts and bolts of the old scene still pretty much get sandwiched in with the new stuff around it, but now everything about the old scene means something else and must be handled differently in light of a whole thing that just upset the emotional equilibrium of the two main characters.

Just so you know, this new scene doesn’t change the direction of the whole plot or anything—it’s just the problem of the week, and I’m working through it. Also, I’m going to share this illustration with you. It’s one of the best ones I’ve done so far; a lot of people said so. Technically it still works and I’m really hoping I can still use it, but due to this re-recording of events its inclusion in the actual book is in jeopardy. This is why you should consider writing your book before you illustrate it.

© Grace Makley, 2012

“Work When Others Are Resting”

This is one of 9 pieces of advice from artist David Jon Kassan, posted by a former professor on a Facebook Group for Illustration Students along with a link to Kassan’s website. The list also includes, “Do more than what you are told to do,” “Take lots of breaks,” and “Love what you do or just don’t do it.”

Work when others are resting.

I love this maxim, because it’s not saying, “Do not rest.” It’s also not saying, “Do not go out when the air is bright and your friends are calling and the time has come to raise a glass and shout because you’re alive and the world is beautiful.” Rather, it is a gentle invitation from your work, from your vocation. It is a soft whisper from that which you love, saying, Find me in the liminal spaces. Come to me when the house is quiet, and we can be alone.

Figure drawing January 30th, 2011. Adobe Photshop. Copyright © Grace Makley (me).

 

More Sketches

Source photo from Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet. Drawn from observation entirely in Adobe photoshop on Tuesday (23 October 2012).

I didn’t draw on Wednesday (I did hike five miles and write some things!) but as a warm-up on Tuesday I worked on a sketch of Taniel to go with the glam sketch of Vanya I posted last week. I even fixed it up a bit today; if you think the eyes are funky now you should have seen them before!Several things wrong here; mostly it’s an example of why I’m doing more work from observation.

Happy Thursday!

David Triumphant

I found a boy with a harp, so I drew him.

It’s a David, of course, from the David and Goliath story. I didn’t have as much time to draw as I should have liked, but what can you do? Here’s a photo of the sculpture:

Thomas Crawford (artist)
American, 1814 – 1857
David Triumphant, model 1845/1846, carved 1848
marble and bronze
height: 114.3 cm (45 in.)

Source: http://www.nga.gov/

I arrived back in Maine at 8 am this morning after traveling through the night via Greyhound Bus. I have so much enjoyed my trip to North Carolina and DC, and I’ve had so many diverse experiences in the last two weeks. With any luck I’ll get to writing about them in the next few days, on the off chance you’re getting tired of all these pictures. 🙂

-G

Woman at a Window

 

 

Sketch from yesterday, at the National Gallery of Art. It’s of a woman in a Spanish painting.

 The Original:

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (artist)
Spanish, 1617 – 1682
Two Women at a Window, c. 1655/1660
oil on canvas

Image Source: http://www.nga.gov

 

As I worked, I had a sudden, shocking moment where I looked at my sketch and thought I was looking in a mirror. I didn’t realize when I started, but I this woman looks a lot like me!

Vanya Sketch Day

There weren’t any cool buildings or trees around the Raleigh Amtrak station, so I spent my drawing time today drawing this:

It took an embarrassingly long time to get his nose even close to accurate, even though I’ve already drawn his nose from that exact angle like only a gazillion times. Things like this are why I’m trying to do more drawing from observation. Also, what is up with that sultry smile?

 

Sketch

I went to an art museum today (the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a rather nice one) and came away thinking about how I haven’t done much art since I graduated, and haven’t made much of an effort to improve my abilities. Yeah, I can pretty much keep making Wanderlust illustrations at the same level I have been, but there are so many things I have yet to learn about color and anatomy and composition. So many ways to improve! My art teachers were always telling me to draw from life, and to draw a lot—very good advice, though I haven’t followed it very well. Maybe I haven’t been “inspired” lately because I’ve been sitting down and staring at a blank photoshop document and trying to create something from nothing, when I should have been looking around me for inspiration. Today, I sat down and made this sketch of the UNC campus.

 

© me. Photoshop, about 30 minutes.

The Mumford Concert (and Where We Are Today)

I am tired! It all started this Saturday, when I went to see Mumford and Sons in concert at the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Portland, Maine. It was a one-day festival with eight musical acts playing on alternating stages through the course of the day, culminating with a Mumford and Sons performance just after dusk. Here’s a real nice article about the festival and the band’s experience in Portland (Rolling Stones Article). Portland is the closest city-shaped thing to where I’m living now, so I’m starting to really appreciate it myself. The Eastern Promenade was a beautiful place for a festival; the stages were framed by a backdrop of ocean, sailboats, and gulls.

I spent most of the day on my feet. I could have camped near the beer tent with some friends-of-a-friend, but after one beer I was already getting antsy. I don’t go to concerts very often, and this would be one to remember forever. I wanted to be near the bands. I think Dawes, Apache Relay, and The Maccabees were some of my favorites, aside from Mumford and Sons. When it was finally time for the leading act I managed to worm myself up to within 20 feet of the stage; close enough to see their facial expressions if I squinted my eyes.

There was one moment when I thought maybe it wasn’t worth it, when someone’s tall head blocked my view and my back and legs ached from standing for so long (I’d secured my spot during the previous act) and thoughts of my discomfort outweighed my enjoyment of the music—but then someone moved to the side and a window opened up clear to the stage, and the dusty blue sky deepened on towards night, and the stage lights shone white and indigo, and Marcus Mumford’s voice sang out over the crowd, and it was all a bit of concert magic. Suddenly I had the adrenaline I needed to jump and scream and truly experience the rest of the night.

Are you aware of Mumford and Sons? I suggest you give them a listen, if you haven’t heard of them and if folk-rock sounds like a thing you’d enjoy. There’s something about the vocals and melody that really resonates with me, and I went through a period of about a month last fall where I could only draw while listening to Mumford and Sons. Here’s a digital painting that came out of that time (yeah, I know the figures need some work):

Anyway, after the concert and subsequent night out on the town I went back to work on Monday and Tuesday, and the soreness of all that dancing combined with the rigors of painting and climbing ladders and biking three miles uphill to work left me physically exhausted—I’ve taken two long soaking baths in as many days. Last night I had planned to set aside time for writing, but then I got a call from a guitar-playing friend asking if I wanted to join him in singing for an ice-cream social, which sounded like too much fun to pass up. We would have sounded better if we’d practiced the songs beforehand, but we had a good time, and it was a family type event where a few wrong notes were easily forgiven. Even more fun, we are planning to actually practice a few songs for an open mic this friday!

So where, in all these fun music-times, is Wanderlust? Well—it’s burning at me. It’s sitting just behind my eyelids, begging for attention. I thought maybe I’d work backwards through the manuscript and add in some bits and pieces before going back to the beginning for a re-haul, but after the concert this weekend I’m anxious to spend some time on Chapter One, which contains a rock concert. Suddenly it seems like a good idea to start from the beginning and go all the way through, fix as much as I can, and see how the end sits, and whether it’s worthy. I have at least the morning off today, and after writing this blog post I think I’m warmed up. Time to get to it!