Happy Nearly-New Year!

2013, eh? A fresh, astoundingly efficient and admirably wholesome start to a shiny new year, eh? Ha. Well, as the more astute among you may have noticed, this barely qualifies by accepted PR standards as a new year communication (despite qualifying on a technical level, being my first offering after an unapprovedly protracted 3-week hiatus *ahem*), and bears an uncanny resemblance to my 2012 performance on timely blogging discipline… Gah. *strikes through yet another wildly optimistic resolution as already patently in tatters*

However, for the first time in what feels like an entire age of mankind, the sun has burnt its way through the greyness and my drawing desk is bathed in lovely, joyful sunlight (not optimal conditions for the laptop, so – perversely – I am here on the other side of the room in the cool, no-glare gloom), imbuing this otherwise unremarkable Tuesday with a sense of positivity and cheer! (I have to be extremely careful to avert my eyes from the slithering pile of bank statements and other miscellaneous Important Paperwork that is my ‘preparation’ for completing my online tax return, or the magic is instantly vaporised…) **N.B. The sun is patently no longer beaming down on my desk, being as it is inkly-black night-time now: I have to confess to having started this post some considerable time ago (#rumbled)…** So, although I haven’t been particularly industrious on the illustrative front since the glittery, allspice-scented schedule-explosion that is Christmas, I am positively fizzing with ideas for new artistic dalliances and experimental trajectories over the coming months.

First among these was going to be a, hopefully not too awkward and fumbling, ‘first date’ with my new Christmas toy (courtesy: Marvellous Dave): a Wacom Inkling (from the clever chaps who make the graphics tablets). However, in a fit of entirely characteristic disorganisation – while attempting to marshal all of our extraneous belongings (inclusive of new and, I would argue, unfamiliar Christmas gifts…) to load into the car immediately prior to our return drive from Lancashire to Surrey – I neglected to pack it, along with a whole host of other items of variable importance, and arrived home on 3rd Jan sans pretty, flashing pen. Harumph. Happily, on being apprised of this latest demonstration of ineptitude, my wonderful mother promptly swaddled said item in bubble-wrap and her own unique, woolly packaging and dispatched it southward via glorious Royal Mail Special Delivery (of which service I have only the highest praise since December). It arrived, thus, but a day later:

Inkling sandwich. Mother has turned her hand to knitted headbands, prompted by my 11-year-old niece, and is producing woollen items with alarming prolificness (doesn't sound like a certifiable word, but the dictionary assures me it is...). At this rate, knitted headbands may overtake pickles and jam in the Mummy Pollard household!

Inkling sandwich. Mother has turned her hand to knitted headbands, prompted by my 11-year-old niece, and is producing woollen items with alarming prolificness (doesn’t sound like a certifiable word, but the dictionary assures me it is…). At this rate, knitted headbands may overtake pickles and jam in the Pollard household!

I haven’t yet given it a proper test whirl (it seems to have lost charge en route from The North – I didn’t expect it to have to expend any of its own energy during transit…), or established whether it’s going to be an invaluable addition to my ‘arsenal’ of creating implements or just a really cool toy, but I do love it. Here are a couple more pictures of it within its fantastically clever and snug, self-contained housing/charging unit, and me pseudo-demonstrating (i.e. posing) how the components are used when the unit’s in action (although my drawing hand, and thus pen transmitter, are rather too close to the receiver unit: the online instructions advise a distance of 20cm between the two to give the most accurate relay of line data, although I already foresee a problem with this… I need to avail myself of some larger sheets of paper!):

The lights on the receiver indicate that the device is on and that it is recording. There's also a button on this unit to record a new layer (in the Photoshop sense), so that you can save your image as separate layers so that these can be manipulated individually when the completed image is imported into the 'Sketch Manager' on the Mac/PC. Clever, eh?

The lights on the receiver indicate that the device is on and that it is recording. There’s also a button on this unit to record a new layer (in the Photoshop sense), so that you can save your image as separate layers so that these can be manipulated individually when the completed image is imported into the ‘Sketch Manager’ on the Mac/PC. Clever, eh?

Pen, USB connection, spare nibs and receiver unit in their super-neat housing :)

Pen, USB connection, spare nibs and receiver unit in their super-neat housing 🙂

So, as I haven’t yet given the Inkling a sufficient ‘whirl’ to be able to write anything like a conclusive review of my experience of its functionality and efficacy, I thought I’d share some of the commissions I’ve had to keep under wraps since before Christmas by way of at least some small scrap of illustrative input. There were several couple portraits commissioned for the festive season, all of which I have added to the ‘Portraits’ album (scroll right down to the last album on the Portfolio page) of my website if you’re interested, but my favourite subject was a deliciously sweet little boy, Charlie, whom I’m including here, as well as a couple of more unusual pieces created for the partner of a dedicated West Ham supporter:

Charlie (approx. 18 months, I think...)

Charlie (approx. 18 months, I think…)

And the reference photo. I'm not sure I really got the translucency of his skin, or his super-fine, almost strawberry-blond hair (looks a bit straw-like in my interpretation...!), but the clients seemed pleased, so I'm happy :)

And the reference photo. I’m not sure I really got the translucency of his skin, or his super-fine, almost strawberry-blond hair (looks a bit straw-like in my interpretation…!), but the clients seemed pleased, so I’m happy 🙂

The recipient is the chap to the far right of the frame, with his son in the foreground (returning the ball to an approximation of Robert Green, one of West Ham's most famous goalies of recent times) and his father just peeping round his shoulder. This was a pretty challenging composition, but satisfying to complete.

(Please excuse the horrendously crinkled paper…) The recipient is the chap to the far right of the frame, with his son in the foreground (returning the ball to an approximation of Robert Green, one of West Ham’s most famous goalies of recent times) and his father just peeping round his shoulder. This was a pretty challenging composition, but satisfying to complete.

And the same three characters enjoying some pre-match chips in front of the iconic entrance to West Ham's home ground.

And the same three characters enjoying some pre-match chips in front of the iconic entrance to West Ham’s home ground.

Something rather wrong seems to have happened to the middle fellow’s chip-tray-bearing hand, but hopefully the apparent deformity is not too noticeable…(?) I was most pleased with the reflection in the glass frontage – when I began to study the colours that actually appear there in an attempt to create as accurate a representation as possible, I was really surprised at the degree of contrast in the palette. It’s tempting to just flick a light, Cerulean Blue wash over the paper to give the impression of glass, but these are tinted, highly reflective windows and, as such, start from a darker base in shadow and throw back a pretty crisp image of the opposite scene – in this case the residential road and trees across from the ground.

Well, I suppose I ought to continue to wade through the roiling sea of accounts in an effort to get this Tax Return dispatched once and for all (well, until next January… Or, perhaps, I could be uber-efficient and make a start on my 2012-13 return  mid-April? No, you’re right: too alarming and uncharacteristic for words…). The Illustration Friday topic this week is edge and, teetering on the brink of one as I am, I feel I’m optimally placed to ‘score a blinder’ – if only I leave myself time…

Meanwhile, I wish you all a very happy new year, veritably bursting with exciting and wondrous things, and a non-too-arduous remainder of a working week 😉

AP xx

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About illustratedbyamanda

Illustrator and time-fritterer extraordinaire
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3 Responses to Happy Nearly-New Year!

  1. Cindy D. says:

    Holy cow that Inkling thingie looks cool! Perhaps its woolly wrapping imparted just a bit of extra magic and it will be an even better thingie now that’s it’s had this journey. (You never know.) And wow, beautiful portrait! You may be right about the hair being just a bit less thin-seeming than his own, but it’s still quite a magnificent head of hair.

    The three fellows looking so happy with their chips and matching scarves! Do I recognize that middle fellow from these pages? In any case, I certainly look forward to all your artistic dalliances and experimental trajectories over the coming months!

    • Thanks Cindy! Once I’ve done grappling with my tax return, I’ll have a proper go with the Inkling and let you know if I detect any additional wool-generated magic (as you say, you never know – mother could’ve been harbouring magic knitting needles all these years, unbeknownst to me!)

      And yes, you do recognise him (hurrah!): he is the fellow of Staffordshire Bull Terrier-owning fame that featured in Dog Days are over…. Another commission by his v. lovely partner 🙂

      Looking forwards to more of your wonderful creations, too!

  2. Cindy D. says:

    Any action with the Inkling? Whatcha been up to? 😀

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