Sunday, February 08, 2009


Though I still have incredibly limited range of motion in my right shoulder, I have seen my movements develop over the last few days from "not at all" to "a little tiny bit."

That is encouraging for me, and not only a sarcastic encouraging.

I return to my surgeon Wednesday to (likely) enjoy a harrowing game of "doctor maintains eye contact, calmly talking, and suddenly jerking the stitches out." We'll see. I always loose that game no matter who I play it with.

In all likelihood however, I believe that this week I'll hit that magic point where I can move my arm just enough with just enough of the discomfort under control to begin final work on Grimm and Other Folk Tales.

* * *

My process for these next few pieces has been quite unlike much my previous work. With these pieces I've tried, at every stage, to lay as much foundation as I can and approach each piece with the best understanding of the story, composition, color theory, and physical reference as I can.

I spent about 2 - 3 weeks reading through different compilations of Grimm fairy tales, a book of Swedish folk tales, and several fairy tale books by several different writers and illustrators.

I dug through the rich tradition of fantasy art and (naturally) fairy tale art created by some of the greatest painters : Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, and John Bauer, especially these artists. I love their use of line and shape, and specifically Rackham's use of color.

During those 2 - 3 weeks I began selecting which stories I wanted to paint.

I re-familiarized myself with stories I knew and discovered several dozens more that I had never heard.

Finally I settled on a range of pieces arching from more familiar stories like "Hansel and Gretel" and "Snow White" to more wild ones like "The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body" and "Dag and Daga" -- stories I'd never heard of yet unlike some others that I'd never read before that were just bizarre, some of these stories had amazing illustration opportunities that I haven't seen done before.

I took the next week and devloped thumbnails for around 15 of these stories. Generally my method of storyboarding or thumbnailing is to scribble an inch by inch square or rectangle, scrawl my quick idea, and deal with the finer points of the compostitions later.

I took these a step further and took the finished size of the pieces (16 in x 20 in) and scaled that down to 4 x 5 and drew more "finished" roughs and forced myself to be a lot more mindful (and less lazy) regarding the compostions.

Next, I worked up very (for me) finished color comps.

Now this next step sought to correct some of the biggest problems with my process, that problem being my lack of reference. It usually comes back and bites me. The night before my surgery I spent about an hour with my sister-in-law Julia and shot tons of reference. We took something like 200 pictures.

So with all this in place you can imagine that I'm ready to get back on this.

My week recuperating has been relaxing; as relaxing as a one-armed, medicated vacation could be, but I am very ready to get back to it.

I'm pleased that all this work still holds up after a week of sitting. That's more encouraging to me than most anything else.


Koldo Barroso said...

Hi Cory!

I hope you get well very soon. And if your shoulder gets lazy you can always train the other hand to draw and give him all the credits of your work ;-)

Those artists that you mention, Rackham, Dulac, Nielsen and Bauer, they are the true masters of illustration. I always go back to their works for learning and inspiration.

Anonymous said...

lisbeth zwerger, too.
way more subtle than i could ever pretend to be.
but if you haven't seen her work, i've got some copies i can bring in to show ya.