Fuzzy-witted with flu, or initial rumblings thereof, I resolved to work only in pencil this morning – the smudgy greyness of such a medium feeling peculiarly fitting to the germ-ridden haze betwixt my ears – as I began preparatory sketches for my Bologna Illustration Competition entry.
The brief for the 2011 round is mercifully non-proscriptive. In fact, it seems the only stipulations are that each entry comprises five images, and that they are linked by some unifying theme (although it’s not clear quite how diaphanous such connections are permitted to be, nor how abstract the theme…). Being perilously close to the deadline for submissions, though, I couldn’t allow myself much by way of idle pondering on potential themes, so after an uncharacteristically brief period of consideration, I alighted on (reverted to…) The Seaside (see last week’s post). More specifically, remembered summer holidays beside the briny. (I hesitate to further define by inserting the qualifier ‘British’ before ‘summer’, as this may well result in an altogether overly-rarefied categorisation that entirely misses the Pan-European – nay, global – observer, although I think the Britishness of the experiences represented may prove ineluctable…) Just a question of which beach-based capers to expose to potential scrutiny – I am only vying for the opportunity to be exhibited alongside very many (hundreds? more…?) of spectacularly creative and intimidatingly gifted illustrators from around the world, after all…
Alas, the elegant, spare lines of something wondrous to open the required five-frame series of illustrations proved resolutely elusive and, after several frustrating hours of paper scrunching and theatrical sighing, I decided to ‘take a break’ (drink coffee until it overtook blood, by volume, in my physiological constitution, and chain chocolate biscuits while staring vacantly out of the kitchen window) in order to regain a little focus. Having settled on constructing a sequence – not necessarily in a narrative sense – of frames depicting but a modest handful of the myriad potential hazards/unfortunate occurrences integral to The Family Beach Holiday, I had become ensnared in an internal debate – entirely unresolvable, of course (I have attempted to sit myself down for a stern-but-fair appraisal in the past, and mainly been distracted by appearing to have lost custody of several marbles which then require hasty recapture…) – as to whether there should be a single character as the featured subject of each scenario; various family members, each starring in their own, individual sandy catastrophe; or an assortment of characters – possibly not all identifiably human? possibly drawn at different scales/from different perspectives? possibly rendered in different media? In addition to the bacteria coursing around my circulatory system, I would also like to attribute a certain degree of blame to this internal wrangling for the sheaf of unintelligible scribble cluttering up my drawing desk by lunchtime.
Contrary to the impression all this abject whining might offer, it wasn’t an entirely fruitless exercise; although mostly condemned to the yawning chasm of the recycling bin, I did manage – after draining my fourth cup of curiously textured coffee (biscuit crumb sludge being one of the most well-documented perils of over-dunking) – to salvage a few sketches from which I think I can marshal something a little more promising. Tomorrow.