In the months leading up to the Raven King’s Faery Ball and the Faery Fayre in Glastonbury I found it a lot easier to create artwork inspired by ravens than by faeries. I sketched stuffed ravens at Manchester Museum and live ravens at Gauntlet Bird of Prey centre, as well as taking some useful photos. I drew bird skulls and listened to Grimms’ raven-themed fairy tales on audiobook, ‘The Raven’ and ‘The Seven Ravens’. I discovered, among other things, that ravens mate for life, have a complex vocabulary, like to play and can fly upside-down for long distances!
At the same time I was looking at Regency style costume and decorative detail, with the plan of incorporating it into fairy-ish images, but these ideas didn’t really come together. (I think it may have the difficulty of representing the fae while allowing them to remain mysterious which was inhibiting my creative process…see my last post.) However, my Regency researches did inform my Raven picture, above (read more about it here). I also bought some paper fans, which seemed like a brilliant idea for an event involving a ball, but they proved quite difficult to decorate. Most media bled through the paper quite easily and looked messy on the reverse side. It certainly wasn’t possible to use layers of blended markers with pencil crayons on top, as I do for most of my artwork – the paper would’ve disintegrated! My most successful fan featured – you guessed it – ravens.
The latter part of my plan for creating artwork for the Faery Fayre involved Inktober. For the uninitiated, this is an annual challenge started by Jake Parker, which involves producing an ink drawing every day throughout October. Participating artists post their work online with the hashtag #inktober. My plan was to try to do some raven or/and fairy themed artwork as part of the challenge. I thought that black and white might lend itself to the world of ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’.
So, predictably, I drew a raven.
…and another raven.
These ones are not ravens, they are crows. Which is quite different.
Also, remarkably, I did some other Inktober drawings which were not ravens – or even like ravens. You can see the whole series on Instagram. I managed to do an Inktober drawing every day but one…on the day we travelled down to Glastonbury we had a dreadful journey and I was in a dark car till after midnight, so it proved impossible to do a drawing during the right twenty-four hour period. (Nor was I particularly inclined to when we finally arrived, especially as I had to be up for the Faery Fayre the next morning!) The whole Inktober experience was surprisingly exhausting. (Probably I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was difficult to fit an extra thirty-one drawings into a month!) I’d definitely recommend it though…it was encouraging to find that I could produce a daily ink drawing, regardless of whether it was convenient or whether I thought I had any ideas. It also proved to me that I can work more quickly than I imagine…and that I can get good results (sometimes, at least!) with little or nothing in the way of reference.
I even managed some faeries.
I’m currently having an Art Sale of all my available Inktober work on Facebook – at very affordable prices. The last day is November 16th and to date I’ve sold exactly half of my available work (a few of my Inktober drawings were in sketchbooks I didn’t want to dismember, so I didn’t offer them for sale). I’m really pleased to have sold so many! It’s very satisfying to send my drawings off to good homes!
I can’t end this post without saying that today (8th November…technically it’s now 9th, but only just!) was the official release date of the picture book I illustrated for writer Kay Green, ‘The Loveliest of all was the Froggicorn’! The best source of information about the book is probably the Facebook page, but there is now a Froggicorn Twitter account too. I have some books available myself, which I am happy to personalixe. You can contact me using the link above to arrange a purchase.