Tuesday, 24 May 2011

mel macklin's guide to children's illustration #101

Top of the Tuesday to you! Hope you're comfy with a steaming cup of that most wonderful caffeinated stuff with marvellous things planned for your day ahead. I kind of love mornings; the day is so full of possibilities, Monty is asleep in my lap having made the great effort to hoover up another kilo of food, and the light is casting golden shards across the part of my garden I can see out the window where I sit to say a good morning to you all.

In case you haven't found me on facebook and noticed me plugging it to the dickens for the past month, we are officially on the countdown for my first children's illustration workshop, which I have ingeniously called: "Mel Macklin's Guide to Children's Illustration  #101"*. If you are as enamoured with the title as I am, be prepared and get thy sleepy-rest now, because I'll be giving you such an overload of fun stuff and eye-candy on Saturday your little brain might just explode, or, at the very least, you'll have a supermassive awesome day!

Now, I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say when we were living in London and I actually had a bit o' pocket money, I would take said money and spend it on children's books. This, I told Dave, qualified as 'research': I was perusing the market of which I sought to be a part. It was, I told him, very much like denying a builder his right to a hammer, or giving a typewriter to a computer technician: without these books, I would be uninformed. So you'll be pleased to know if the bank should decide one day to relieve us of our house, we will at least be very well 'informed'!

And, inspiration being the best oiler of those cogs in your imagination, which then sends messages to your brain prompting a twitch in your fingers to grasp themselves firmly about a pencil, I would say buying children's books has almost a direct relationship with drawing and making better drawings. Which is why I'm so excited to be sharing a bit of my 'research' with you!

I'm also really keen to hear what people think about illustration in general: what you don't like to see is just as important as what you're drawn to as it shapes your own personal style; it would be wonderful to hear what people think of the day and I will very much be taking these contributions into consideration for future workshops.

I think there is such a tendency is illustration for artists to isolate themselves: whether it's for fear of someone stealing their ideas, or because sometimes, it's hard to realise those super talented or prolific people we admire are just as industrious and hard-working as we might be; they're just older and a little more practised. But what I realised this year, as I discussed in my post on taking the time to say "bravissimo", there is something so wonderfully liberating and rewarding in telling others what you like about their work. There's something of a touch of karma about it too: often these same people will be only too happy to point out something wonderful you hadn't already noticed about your own work.

As an illustrator, I think you need to surround yourself with other artist friends: they know best that awful condition we only whisper furtively about: 'artist's block'; they've probably been rejected by publishers too, and they need someone, just as you do, to remind you of what's great about your work, and to offer constructive feedback that they aren't always able to give themselves. Giving someone else advice about their work takes the focus off your own creative problems, and in articulating how they could develop their skills, fortuitously you often find you've solved your own problems. It's a happy cycle: let's get together and get illustrating!

Come along to DVAA, Woods St/ Frog Hollow, Darwin, from 10am-3pm Saturday May 28th. For only $50 you'll be getting a scrum-diddly morning tea, and all materials-pretty snazzy ones at that- are provided. Get yourself there, have some fun, make new friends and get a start on that wonderful book everyone deserves to read. Book yourself in by calling the lovely Leanne on 08 8981 9351 or email info@dvaa.net.au. Bring a camera and your biggest smile and put both to good use!
Can't wait!

Mel x

*To be taught alongside "Mel Macklin's Guide to Taming a Very Naughty Kitten #101" and "Mel Macklin's Guide to Raiding the Fridge for Wont of Something to Preoccupy Oneself With #101"; subsequent classes for those seeking to further develop their skills will be almost identically titled, but with the coding '#201' instead. Clevertrousers indeed.

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