(Slideshow to follow)
During the past week, I’ve been drawing a series of pictures featuring children and their parents shopping, for Grade 1 readers. It’s a fun little story, each child buying something that begins with the same letter as their name does.
After a few thoughts about herding the children of our land into rampant consumerism, I got down and enjoyed drawing them happily shopping as if money was no object.
From one little tyke – (Bulelwa) choosing a banana, to a very happy little Quinton wanting a quad-bike, the last page shows the shoppers going home, ‘tired but happy’ as those mandatory school essays about school outings always said. I should add that in this story the kids are happy and the parents are tired…
What went through my head as I obsessively corrected little dots and tiny missing areas of colour here and there – (because on the drawing tablet I can blow up a line half a millimetre wide, to the width of my wrist and more), was that when ‘perfection’ becomes possible, it can become mandatory.
To some extent I avoided that trap, hand-drawing for instance the pupils of eyes, instead of making a circle mechanically and clicking ‘fill’. (Okay I succumbed once. But just once.) I also became conscious that life-drawing is a Good Thing and should be practised often, the more the better. Sadly it’s something I don’t allow enough time for, and it would improve my draughtsmanship hugely, not to mention saving a lot of stress and doubt about how whether that hand looks right etc etc.
To save time, the straight lines were done with two clicks and the shift button. But to use mechanical methods for curved lines is to remove a lot of the life from a picture. There needs to be a human touch, an imperfection, reflecting human fallibility. Sometimes the lines also got a bit wiggley here and there where my hand or my brain became tired or tense.
That’s the intensely personal nature of drawing – the joy shows, so does boredom, so does tension, anger… oddly, some of my best work has happened when I’ve been sad and needed to make myself laugh. ‘Binnepret’ or inner fun, as the Dutch call it.
This article by Tom Gasek, – Imperfection in Animation, confirms a lot of what I was thinking along these lines, while this project ran its course, even though he’s talking about stop-motion animation and not drawing, specifically.
As for stop-motion animation – I also think there is a childlike self in all of us which secretly assigns a private life to everyday objects. Perhaps the animism practised by so-called primitive tribes has more to it than we know – for me, stop-motion brings that magic to life.