I must be honest, when I started the school I wasn’t quite sure how one of the courses, ‘Drawing the Graphic Novel’, was relevant to my own pursuits. But as the year has gone on I’ve learnt that its my imagination that needs pushing more that my technical skills, and so took the evening course, taught by the talented Emily Haworth-Booth. Turns out, it’s been one of the highlights of the year and I’m longing for more than a few hours a week. I like illustrating for others, but can be left feeling a little empty after my work has been pulled and prodded to someone else’s revisions. Conceiving, directing and illustrating one’s own stories is daunting at first, and very different, harder even, than following a set brief. But sharing ideas with a class and hearing others’ passions has been rewarding, and I’ve learnt many things.
Graphic Novels are amazing, and a further piece of evidence to the idea that drawings can be more powerful than words or photographs. Gradually, they have made me think more about narratives and realise that I have many of my own bubbling away. A big revelation was finding that I could pretty much draw whatever I wanted from my head. Scenes, perspective and characters seemed to flow out automatically. This is immensely satisfying but it’s also problematic, being so closely involved in your own project that you can’t judge it properly, and getting caught up in creating beautiful images until you lose track of the bigger story. Working to a smaller scale has been incredibly useful in learning about composition and how to create atmosphere. I started to feel that the smaller I drew, the more character my drawings developed.
So these are some sketches for two little projects I’ve been playing with. The first are scenes from a medieval quest, set in thirteenth century England. This story has been simmering in me for years so it’s been good to put pencil to paper. The only problem is that the story is too big, and takes on epic, film-like proportions, with scenes and characters rolling out on storyboards. Castles, Crusaders, dramatic battles in Wales, eerie Gothic corridors… I need Ridley Scott to help me do it justice.
The second set of sketches follow my ‘town mouse’ through a dark and scary London. It’s hardly autobiographical but the basic narrative is about the overwhelming scale and bustle of the city, and finding a home in it.
I’m not sure if, or how, to take these further yet. But I have really enjoyed this change from observational drawing. I’m not limited by places, people, weather, light. I can happily lose myself in my own worlds, and be an architect or film director designing to my own rules. It’s escapism in a sense, but it’s also not, in that I’ve had the chance to indulge my own interests and drawings skills in the most personal and intimate ways.