This week’s musical guest, as it were, is Phoebe Wahl; a recently graduated illustrator from the Pacific Northwest. Although, I thought at first she was from somewhere in Scandinavia or Germany. Her work, echoed, it seemed to the illustrations of classic Swedish illustrators like Ilon Wikland and Elsa Beskow, with its goodnatured domestic scenes, and woodsy settings. What distinguishes her work though is the heft and the presence of her materials. There’s no ethereal application of pastel and watercolour here, instead gouache, pencil and collage assert themselves almost forcefully. The way you feel the slathered on paint in a van Gogh painting.
It gives her work a sense of conviction and an earthiness that is singularly appealing.
You can also tell that it takes time to make such pieces. So it’s not surprising that she says that her studio is where she spends most of her time already. Having her bedroom in there though, she feels, is not entirely ideal. Spending the entire day in your bedroom working, doesn’t always feel like working. And it’s hard to take breaks when your work is staring you in the face.
However she does enjoy working at home, surrounded by her things.
Her work is intertwined with her life to a degree where, she thinks, she’d be uncomfortable to separate her work and living spaces.
So if she did find herself locked up in there, she only needs the following items to make life a bit more comfortable:
- I don’t know if a window can count. But I have to have a window. I have to have some reminder of nature and the outside world to space out through while working. Plus fresh air!
- Books. I like having lots of books around to look at if I’m stuck and need inspiration. Most of the books I own are children’s books…
- Slippers & hand warmers. Maybe I’m stingy or my house just doesn’t hold heat very efficiently…but my feet and hands are always cold. Even in the summer I wear slippers while working, and a lot of times fingerless gloves too.
- Tea. Earl Gray with milk and honey. Chamomile & Lavender after 9pm. I was vegan for a while and non-milky tea was the second saddest part. (No cheese was the first saddest of course.)
- Some sort of audio-device, a computer or iPod (although I could definitely still get down with a walkman… I love cassettes.) When I was little I would zone out for hours drawing and listening to audiobooks. I would listen to the same ones over and over. I’ve listened to Little Women and The Secret Garden about 30 times, I swear. I still love audiobooks, and revisit old favorites frequently…like Harry Potter!
Musically her choices would be:
I tend to listen to a lot of mellow folk music. Vashti’s songs is slightly fantastical, which is why I love listening to her while I work. It’s like fairy music. She traveled with her boyfriend by horse and cart from London to the outer Hebrides to live on a commune that Donovan started, which is where she began writing her first album Just Another Diamond Day (released in 1970). She holds a special place in my heart because I listed to a lot of her music when I traveled to the Isle of Erraid (part of the inner Hebrides) while I was doing a study abroad program at the Findhorn Ecovillage in northeast Scotland. She’s a great name to plug into Pandora you get a lot of early Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, Carolyn Hester and Sibylle Baier. All good listens for a mellow rainy work day.
Sometimes I get questions from people about the brushes I use. Usually my answer is that I have a bunch of brushes I made from paint splatters and some modified chalky brushes. But recently I’ve added Kyle’s brush pack to my usual repertoire and I cannot but heartily recommend them.
His painting brushes have opened up a variety of new ways for me to work and his pencil and dry brush-brushes have a wonderfully natural look to them.
If you don’t want to go through the bother of making your own brushes, which can be a very trial and error-ridden process, his megapack is the best (and far less timeconsuming) alternative.
Since it’s december, that means it’s time for massive consumerist nonsense! And I’m participating as well, click on the image above to get free shipping and $5 off on most items in my society6 store until december 8.
Above illustration from ‘Boelie’s Kerstplan’ written by Mathilde Stein and published by Lemniscaat in the Netherlands: http://www.bol.com/nl/p/boelies-kerstplan
And in French by Sarbacane: http://www.amazon.com/boulie-Chuck-Groenink-Mathilde-Stein
Hey it’s cyber-monday,
so why not enjoy free shipping on my society6 store!
This week’s contributor is a cartoonist and illustrator I’ve known online for a few years, and recently I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him offline as we moved to the same city this summer.
Phil’s work is in many ways decidedly old school, his scratchy pen and ink drawings have a quality that place them in a tradition of cartoonists like Ralph Steadman, Ronald Searle and the great Quentin Blake.
He says that being locked in his studio would be a terrible punishment, even if work sometimes demands living like that. He gets antsy if he doesn’ get to go out, talk to people, look at trees, pet stray cats and ride his bike.
If we were to lock him in his studio however, he would like to be given: a blanket (for cape reasons), a big sandwich, a drum set, a bottle of orange juice, and a case of beer. (editor’s note, while Phil has a very nice workplace, I really don’t see how he’s going to fit a drumset in there, unless it’s a tiny one)
Bad Girl by Lee Moses. I don’t know much about Lee Moses. I’m pretty sure he never got all that famous. I somehow came across this song a while back, I don’t remember how exactly, but it immediately became an obsession for me. It’s got a raw, powerful sound, the sort of sound that I imagine can only come directly from a person’s soul. Lyrically it’s great. I love that so much is left unsaid, left to the imagination, and yet when you listen, a very clear picture is painted. It’s a gem of a song.
This week’s musical guest is the great Phil McAndrew!
To celebrate Small Business Saturday I’m having a special weekend sale of all the prints in my store. New prints from my show have been added as well.
Just enter THANKSGIVINGFUN in the discount bar to get 20% off!
As an added bonus, orders over $60 will get this free holiday screenprint!
Chris is pretty much the best at what he does, and any wall looks better with his art on it.Edit: Someone pointed out that I seemed to have managed to write Chris’ name as Phil. In my defense, I need a nap and just got home from a trip and my pal Phil McAndrew had taken care of my cats for a week. Also I’m bad at names.
Happy Thanksgiving one and all!
This week’s contributor is Donovan Crosby, an artist and illustrator who is originally from L.A. After working in the animation industry for a few years, she escaped to Portland, Or, to paint, draw, hike and generally enjoy the grey and mossy vastness of the pacific northwest.
She shares her work sparingly, sneaking it on to her blog hicockalorum.tumblr.com.
If she found herself stranded in her studio, it wouldn’t be that different from her current life but she would miss being able to go hiking or simply getting a breath of fresh air. Although, as she puts it, she’s already adept at contorting her body for long stretches at a time to serve a finished piece of art.
She would like the following items in said studio: twinkle lights, a kettle, tea and lots of it, a cat, and a yogamat.
This is a stretch, but technically it is a soundtrack. It takes me back to a childhood in Southern California where going to Disneyland was an immense treat. Most people I know who had similar experiences still retain a flitter of excitement at the thought of wandering around those cavernous air conditioned rides. I’m not sure what I would make of the place if I were to see it for the first time as an adult. Likely I’d see more of the scaffolding and edifice holding the illusion together, ie; the little wires that LED fireflies hang from. But hearing this reminds me of a time when I didn’t need to squint to make it look fantastical, I was just swimming in magic.
This week’s post is up!
Next’s week contributor is Donovan Crosby, an illustrator, who you might know from her blog: Hicockalorum
Secondly, if you have spotify you could, if you are so inclined, keep track of everyone’s music selections with this playlist. Sadly that does mean that if anyone chooses anything by Joanna Newsom (and why wouldn’t they?), or other songs that aren’t available on there those will have to be left out. But then again youtube isn’t perfect either.
(Click the anonymous little box above for said playlist)
I should probably point out the above illustration is by Donovan, not me. Though you can probably see that we share a certain affinity for weirdly shaped trees, fungi and vegetation.
This clump of moss she painted recently is basically favourite thing: http://instagram.com/p/g4HT4QDjPe/
Got an email from society6 today that they removed this drawing from their site as Warner Brothers sent them a copyright infringement claim.
So, I guess they own every little bit of the Hobbit now. I wish though, this meant that the characters in the film actually looked like this.
Meanwhile this is still up on their site.
Roman Muradov is an illustrator and cartoonist who barely needs an introduction here. Originally from Russia, he has been making his fellow illustrators and doodlers sick with envy over the past few years with his incredibly inventive and constantly elegant work.
Here he shares his choices to listen to again and again if he found himself chained to his desk.
My appreciation of the Fall follows a standard pattern of “it’s repetitive and the singer can’t even be bothered to sing, is it even music?” to “it’s repetitive and the singer can’t even be bothered to sing, why do I listen to anything else, ever?” I’m into C.B. is one of Fall’s finest creations, and possibly my favorite song of all time. The dense pummeling rhythm, repeated with hysterical insistence throughout the song is given central stage, unhindered by fancy melodies or excessive production. Lyrically, it’s balancing between the straightforward narratives of Grotesque and marked obscurity of Perverted by Language, complete with MES’s signature attention to mundanities, sharp phrasing and self-referencing. When I try to figure out why I prefer the Fall to any other music, I think it fall back to the initial reaction: it’s borderline not quite music, yet it’s laden with distorted pop artifacts, scattered among the profound strangeness of Mark E.Smith’s delivery.
Here’s a little thing I thought up recently after listening to Desert Island Discs for too long. If you don’t know Desert Island Discs; it’s a bbc-radio program that’s been around for ages, where famous people get interviewed and share their music choices to listen to if they were stranded on a desert island.
Between the actors, writers and politicians however, there are precious few illustrators. So I thought I’d remedy that a little bit by having illustrators, cartoonists and other doodlers share their 8 music choices if they were bound to their desks forever (As if that is not a situation they haven’t chosen for themselves already).
Anyway; click through to listen to all of Roman’s choices.
I’m going to try to make this a weekly thing, provided I can get people interested.
I would say, you should try out a bunch of different ones and go with the one that gives you the best results. Or the one that gives you decent results but is pretty cheap.
I don’t believe there are universal answers for these kinds of things. Everyone draws differently, and everyone will have a specific paper they prefer.
In my case, I like to do a lot of my drawing on card stock, because it’s nice and smooth. It’s horrible for ink or paint though, so I generally have some smooth watercolour paper around as well.
I have a couple of brushes that I use a lot, they’re all made from scanned paint splashes. My favourite brush is probably a variation of a chalk-brush with some texture and stuff added to it. I can use it for almost anything.This detail from a larger thing is probably a good example.
For textures and colouring I like to use washes and random splashes of paint, that I scan and turn into brushes. And lately I’ve become enamored of a sponge brush that gives a nice effect (basically, like so many illustrators I’m trying to get the same effect spongy dry brush effect Annette Marnat is so good at).
I really really really love your illustration style! How long did it take you until you were comfortable with specific styles:)?
Honestly, I don’t think you can really speak of specific styles in the plural about my work. I just like to find something that feels right for each project,
and I’m far from ever comfortable with it.
But I think that’s a perfectly healthy attitude to have. Keeps one on one’s toes.
But, thank you.
Hello! Was wondering, with a majority of your work, do you prefer to color traditionally or digitally? I'm really interested in your coloring process and wondering how you do it! You work is some of the best I've seen.
and thanks!that’s a hard question to answer, really. My process varies from project to project in all sorts of small ways. I outlined the general process here once: http://chuckgroenink.tumblr.com/post/35522740506/every-now-and-then-people-ask-me-about-my-process
But almost every assignment is different, depending on how digital or traditional my technique is. I will say that I always use photoshop to determine the final colours, because it allows me greater control and because I don’t trust my eyes. When I use colour in painting, etc, I like to mess around with it to see if I can get something nice unexpected results to offset the complete predictability of PS.
At the same time, photoshop allows me to get colours I didn’t originally plan to use, or to bind a pallette together better.
The fact of the matter is that I’m not that good with colour on paper, and used to avoid it altogether, but photoshop has given me the means to not screw up all the time.