tealin: (terranova)
To my surprise, this blog missed out on the Silas love on Canada Day ... so here's making up lost time. Longtime followers may remember him as the snarky bespectacled guy in a nightcap, who I drew a lot when Worst Journey was my escapism at Disney; now that I'm doing all this For Real I needed to sit down and work out a proper design for him.

Charles Seymour 'Silas' Wright was the physicist and glaciologist on the Terra Nova Expedition – and Canadian! As such, naturally, he was constantly being ribbed for being 'American'; even his nickname 'Silas' comes from a joke of Birdie's:

Silas struck me one day on the ship as a typical Yankee name and in a happy moment I called him Mr Silas P. Wright of the Philadelphia Educational Seminary. Since then he has never been called anything but Cousin Silas or Silas.

(from a letter home, quoted in Silas: The Antarctic Diaries and Memoir of Charles S. Wright p. 28)

More drawings and anecdotes below... )

There are so many more anecdotes – like about how Silas was notorious for his prolific and varied swearing, and how he almost invented the Geiger counter, and the time they were sledging across new ice that was still so rubbery the sledge made a bow-wake, and getting carbon monoxide poisoning the second winter, and how he was almost the one to go to One Ton instead of Cherry, and – and – and –

But I've gone on quite long enough already, so those will have to wait for another day.
tealin: (Default)
Good morning! It is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! And you loyal followers of my old-fashioned blog get first dibs!

You may need to manually enter "0" in the price field to make it work, but I tried it last night and it does. You are of course welcome to put some other number if you are moved to do so, but may I venture, that is entirely against the spirit of Free Comic Book Day.

>>> GET IT HERE!! <<<
tealin: (terranova)
[looks up from piles of black-and-white photos, archival documents, notes scribbled in the margins of books, logic puzzles attempting to place fragments of evidence in a timeline, recollections of academics, collections of academics, disconnected letters, maps, newspaper clippings, webs of causality all leading to tragic consequences, inventories, mysteriously missing accelerants, problematic personalities, suppressed suggestions of betrayal, suspicious deaths, and the conflict between idealistic pursuit of knowledge and self-interested ambition]

You know, sometimes I think about all the mental gymnastics I did over Lemony Snicket in the early 2000s, and wonder when I'll ever find a practical application for those skills.
tealin: (terranova)

I started this as a demo for my animation class, but it really needed the second scene, so I threw that together tonight. A week, in bits, for the first part, about 4 hours for the second! I'm determined not to get too precious with it – I have a dozen other things making demands on this week – but at some point in the future may add a bit more wind effects to Cherry to tie him in a bit better. And, you know, finish the drawings, or something. But right now my wrist is saying "You did WHAT??" so it's time to call it a night.

A very happy, supremely satisfied night.

(Of course they would not be out on a windy hillside without their hats, especially in August when this is supposed to take place! But I needed practice drawing them hatless, so have fudged meteorology and human physiology for the purposes of aesthetic. I'll just ... pack my bags for when the history police get here.)
tealin: (terranova)

This has been bumping around in my brain for seven years; I’ve only just summoned the nerve to get it down on paper. Apologies to Lewis Carroll, who I’m sure would never have imagined his harmless verse being put to such purpose. And for those who feel the need to inform me just how sick and wrong it is: I know. That's why it's taken seven years. (Though at least a year has probably been tacked onto that span by the idea that I ought to do it Tenniel-style or not at all ... thanks for that helpful suggestion, brain.)

Bill was pretty well acquainted with death; he had serious tuberculosis in his 20s and scurvy on the Discovery expedition, with numerous other close shaves and accidents along the way, so would have looked death in the face a few times, and that brings a person to come to terms with mortality. His thoughts on faith, fate, life, and death are unorthodox but worth reading, if you are into that sort of thing – I was collecting them for a while on ourdailybill.tumblr.com, but Cheltenham in Antarctica, and for a deeper exploration, The Faith of Edward Wilson, are much more organised sources.

In my head, the words go like this. (I doubt Lewis Carroll would have been able to imagine ... that ... either.)

Bill, again

Mar. 9th, 2017 05:59 pm
tealin: (terranova)
For the next couple weeks* I'm going to be teaching the brightest of bright young things how to animate dialogue. From my own personal experience, all the lectures about theory can't stack up against watching an actual animator actually animate an actual scene, so I like to have a demo to walk the class through, on which to demonstrate what I'm talking about, and the stages of animating a scene. It also happens to be a great way to work out a design. Last year I did this with Oates; this year I felt Wilson was in most need of the animation-test treatment. Remembering what a fight I had to get anything halfway decent out of him at the end of last year, I girded my loins for battle, but the minute I sat down to draw him he just ... turned up.

So, this should be fun ...

And now I've got him pretty much figured out (knock on wood), I have no excuse to put off any further the re-interpretative illustration of Victorian verse which I've had on my mental back burner for SEVEN YEARS now. Just in time for it, too – it should go up March 18th, or not at all. [slinks off mysteriously]

*When not stuffing my face with pickled herring and the world's best bread, which everyone knows are the real reasons I travel to Denmark
tealin: (terranova)

Next up on the design block is Tryggve Gran. Gran was a lieutenant in the Norwegian navy, as well as one of the first professional skiers. He was hired onto the expedition to teach the British how to ski – the sport was only just becoming popular in the mainstream, and while those who had been on the Discovery expedition had had practice with one-stick skiing, the two-stick cross-country skiing we’re familiar with today was an innovation in 1910.

I’ve only just started reading his published journals, but so far they’re confirming my impression of his being the Legolas of the expedition. His uncanny ease at gliding along on top of the snow only helps with the image.

Gran was enthusiastic about being part of this great undertaking, and optimistic about being chosen to go for the Pole, but things got awkward when Amundsen put his oar in, and for understandable reasons (as he admitted at the time) he had to be eliminated from consideration. Gran was loyal to Scott all his life, which was a long one – he died in 1980.

T. Griffith Taylor led a geological side-expedition to the Western Mountains on which Gran assisted, and in his official report (??!) which was published in Scott's Last Expedition: Vol. II he's hidden this little Easter egg, a ditty written for Gran's 23rd birthday: Read more... ) One is left to wonder just how 'unmoral' he might have been ... (Seriously, the official report, Griff?)
tealin: (Default)
A few years ago, when the BBC reran the radio dramatisation of The Worst Journey in the World which got me into this whole Scott thing, I made a small comic about the journey I've been on since being introduced to these amazing people and their story. A little while ago, a small gallery in Minneapolis with which I've had some dealings put out a call for art illustrating one's personal story and 'what makes you tick,' which seemed like the perfect excuse to bring the story up to the present and make something of it.

The continuation picks up in 2012, with the culmination of Centenary Fever, and the overseas trip which tipped the balance on my personal status quo:

... and goes three more pages through the changes both internal and external, my shift in perspective and priorities, and acceptance of a particular direction for my life.

Plus three more pages to bring it home, a small but hugely significant passage from Worst Journey (quoted with permission!), and a short suggested reading list should anyone have their curiosity piqued and be heedless of my warning that such material may change their life, too.

Said comic and text have been compiled into a small booklet, which is currently available from the gallery's shop should you wish to acquire one.* The site doesn't say so, but they are all signed!

This foray into self-publishing has been ... "an adventure" ... but I think I might be tempted to do a little more, if there's a market for it. It's strange to think anyone would smile on buying my artwork when I've been feeding the Internet for free lo these many years, but other people seem to manage it, so ...? Any advice on this, or suggestions for what sort of things you'd like to see, would be very gratefully received. With any luck I'll figure out something for North American distribution which will spare you paying through the nose for overseas shipping, something that couldn't get sorted out before the gallery show. (Sorry about that, but the profit margin is tiny on those little books, believe it or not.)

*Given that these booklets have had to cross the Atlantic once already, I'd advise Europeans to hold off for a few weeks and let those on the other side pick up the gallery copies – I aim to have some more local distribution set up in April or so.
tealin: (Default)
Frank Debenham was junior geologist on the Terra Nova expedition, under fellow Aussie T. Griffith Taylor; as such, needing to be where the rocks were (so, not on the Barrier or the Polar Plateau), and suffering a couple of badly-timed knee injuries, he wasn’t included on the major journeys of the Expedition and therefore tends to get left out of Expedition narratives. This is understandable but unfair, as it’s in his diary that many of the amusing character anecdotes are recorded, he was official photographer the second year so the pictorial record owes a lot to him, and it’s thanks to Deb’s vision and curatorship that we have SPRI, which makes understanding and retelling the Scott story so much more possible. In a way I suppose he’s the Horatio of the Scott Expedition – not part of the action, and easily overlooked, but a good, stable, supportive guy to have around, and keeper of the flame.

After struggling so to get a decent take on Crean, I’ve budgeted myself a full week for each person’s preliminary design pass. While I acknowledge there were mitigating circumstances with Bill, I was still concerned that my pace with him was a negative indication of things to come, so it was a great surprise to find that Deb turned up almost immediately I sat down to draw him, and I filled five good pages in two days.

Deluge of Debs )

The part of me that likes a good story suggested that my ease in drawing him was because he was so happy for someone to be paying attention to him that he was as cooperative as he could be ... but I rather suspect it’s because he looks enough like a Disney prince that he ‘fits well under the fingers,’ as string players like to say.
tealin: (think)
Dr. Edward Adrian 'Bill' Wilson is, in my humble estimation, the most wonderful person ever to have lived; he is, for certain, my one great hero, and needless to mention my favourite person on the Terra Nova Expedition.*

Drawing him has proven surprisingly difficult. )

Next on the list is Deb – I've tried him out before but he needs a proper systematic approach – and then maybe Gran; I'll come back to Bill and see if I've shaken off any of my intimidation.

*The others wouldn't mind me saying this; he was all their favourite, too.
tealin: (think)
I think I've figured it out:

Bill Wilson is basically Professor Lupin, if Professor Lupin
  • was real
  • wasn't a werewolf
  • didn't have jerkwad friends
  • didn't die a pointless offscreen death but rather one that was the ultimate consummation of his amazing and inspiring character arc
Bet Cherry wishes he'd thought of that one.
tealin: (terranova)

I've been spending a lot of time with Atch's handwriting lately. It's been awesome and amazing and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do so ... but it's also a bit like forensic graphology crossed with necromancy. Which is no less cool, mind, just a little exhausting ...


Sep. 25th, 2016 09:27 pm
tealin: (Default)

I've been listening to shanties while drawing polar explorers and, well, things happen. Deb was Australian, see? So funny!

My conscience would like to point out that the album Northwest Passage came out six years after Silas died, so he would not be singing it in 1910, but since when did respect for chronology trump a good gag? Not ever.

Gosh it feels nice to draw something silly again ...

The Owner

Aug. 28th, 2016 07:53 am
tealin: (Default)
The last of the people I needed to work out for the Mysterious Thing on my drawing desk is Captain Scott. I've drawn him quite a few times before, and been happy with the results, but it always makes an enormous difference to approach things methodically and get really comfortable with drawing someone, so it was worth it to sit down for a couple of days and hash out a proper procedure for him.

As with Cherry (and everyone, really), I will need to do more than this quick study before I sit down to do things For Real, but this is sufficient for moving ahead with the current thing and buys me a head start on further development.

It was also good to reacquaint myself with the phenomenon of Drawing While French – I drew half the heads above, and these poses, while listening to Radio-Canada podcasts in one of my intermittent attempts at immersion, and I'm pretty sure the latter two of these poses wouldn't have turned out nearly so stylish if I'd been listening to English. I don't know why this happens but it's pretty reliable, so maybe I need to commit to this immersion thing and see what it does to my drawing long-term ...

My collection of reference photos is fairly large, and I'm on first-name terms with most of them, but it's still surprising what you notice when you draw off something rather than merely study it. This is a frame from 90° South, in which Ponting had this group (coincidentally four of the five members of the Polar Party) recreate camping routine for the cinematograph – an absolutely invaluable reference source, though none of them would have thought so at the time. I knew it had Scott laughing, but I had never appreciated just how much he's cracking up until deconstructing his face.

"Scott was a subtle character, full of lights and shades," Cherry wrote, and in my collection of photos some aspect of this comes across physically – in some he's a dashing matinée idol (a former housemate, seeing this image on one of my books, asked why Russell Crowe was on the cover of a Scott biography), while in others he looks decidedly impish. He divided opinion, both amongst those who knew him and those who encountered him through his and others' writing later; the only thing everyone seems to agree on is that he was a complicated man. I started out just on the negative side of ambivalence towards him, but as I've got to know him over these last eight years, I have become very fond of him, despite (or because of?) all his faults. He's going to be a tricky character to portray, and to some extent I can't stop people seeing what they want to see, but I hope I can inspire some to give him the benefit of the doubt as I did, and see the man on his own terms rather than through the lens of hindsight.

One last thing: People make a big deal over observation and life experience, but rarely provide tangible examples of why it's important. Well, in deconstructing Scott's design, I noticed his ears were the same shape as these little tiny clam shells I used to collect by the handful when I lived in San Diego, which I can recall so clearly I could draw them as you see above. Somehow I'd never bothered to find out what they were called; now I know they are Donax variabilis. So a random factor of my childhood has influenced my understanding of a long-dead head, and the story of that long-dead head has led to a better understanding of a random factor in my childhood, and life is 0.001% more stitched up.
tealin: (Default)
For the third time now, I've sat down with my photo collection and tried to get to grips with Cherry. I hope doing it properly this time will mean it sticks. He's tricky in that his two dominant features are his proganthous nose and his glasses – it's easy to throw those down on a face that doesn't work right and say 'Ta-daa, it's Cherry!' when you're really just using them to hide your lack of knowledge. (This is precisely what I was doing whilst drawing something else, the awareness of which prompted me to do this study.) But as you see in my notes to myself, if he doesn't look right without his glasses, he's NOT RIGHT – so I've left them off in these drawings, so as to check them against the reference photos more clearly, and not allow myself to lean on them.

As he ended up being more or less at the centre of most aspects of the Expedition, he really needs to have a proper model pack done, but as usual my time is conflicted at present so I can't sit down to do it now. This is a down-payment on the sort of work that needs to happen, in the hope that dipping my toe in now will make it easier to dive in when time allows.
tealin: (actually)

I've gone through rather more of Cherry's notes than most sane mortals have done. It seems sometimes as though he was desperate for people to know the facts, and if they were not going to come to him as the obvious source for the facts and persist in willful ignorance, well, he was going to write them down anyway, in ink, in hardbound books, so someday when they realised they were not in possession of the facts he could remedy that situation from beyond the grave, as it were. I know this. And yet I still blunder ahead sometimes without asking him for his side of the story. Someday the lesson will stick.

It's dangerous to identify too much with someone you'll never know and who, chances are, probably wouldn't have liked you very much if you did. But as someone who started saying 'actually' with alarming frequency quite shortly after learning to talk, I feel like I really get Cherry in this regard ...
tealin: (Default)
Friday is Birdie's birthday. I have this post queued up to go live on Tumblr on the day, but I couldn't wait that long to post it, so you loyal Real Blog followers get a sneak peek.

I make no apologies for the dreadful rhymes you will find in the following. I am immensely proud of every last one of them.

Happy 133rd birthday, Birdie!

And because I am that much of a nerd, full citations are below the cut (along with details of the illustrations).

Dive in ... )

Tom Crean

Jul. 8th, 2016 08:41 pm
tealin: (Default)
Well, it's been a hard slog all week, but I think I've finally got Crean on paper. It's not a final design – I have to push it graphically some more, as I won't have the luxury to draw his head 5 inches high every time and need to make him recognizable at a small scale, but I need to let that step steep before I take it.

These are the first sketches in which I felt like I'd captured him, but of course it's one thing to hit the mark once or twice and another to be able to hit it every time, so I had to put him through his paces:

Many many more below the cut ... )

And of course, had to give him a dog ...

tealin: (Default)

I'm trying to draw Tom Crean.

So far he's come out looking like:
  • Mel Gibson
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • The life drawing teacher at Disney
  • Keith Wilson
  • My former housemate's brother
  • Superman
  • George W. Bush
To be fair, he does seem to look different in pretty much every photo, and I have never tried drawing him before, but even so ... ??  I'm kind of aiming for somewhere between Colin Farrell (eyebrows) and Mark Rylance (crinkly face) plus many hours of hard work in the fresh air, but none of those come even close...

There's a 1916 edition of The Now Show on tonight at 11pm BST so I'll keep working till then, and just hope something (anything) percolates overnight.

tealin: (terranova)
I've been trying to do the model sheet treatment on Birdie since about February; I kept having to put it down and pick it up again, relearning what I'd done, going a few steps further, then having to put it down again. The photo studies were done in about February, I think:

Once I figured out his facial structure (in bits and bobs not pictured), doing expressions was actually a fair bit of fun.

But when I got to posing, it became rapidly clear to me how long it had been since I had attended a proper life drawing class.

That was sometime in April ... back on the wagon again, if it'll pause long enough for me to catch up ...


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