We’re back! With another Sunday Night Sketchbook! It’s been a while since our last one, but I’ve done a few individual posts here and there about the bigger pieces I’ve done, and between that and university work, there’s not been many other drawings to show off! However this week I took part in WMC Season 12.5, which was a livestreamed minecraft tournament, and so I’ve been doing some sketches and posters for that. I’m going home tomorrow for Christmas and my new toy, a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 should be waiting for me so hopefully I’ll be doing a lot more artwork once I have a more portable computer! Either way, enjoy this week’s edition!
What is the earliest film to depict Juggling? Well if the Juggling Information Service’s frankly exhausting list of ‘films that depict juggling’ is anything to go by, the credit goes to two French documentaries from 1895 and 1896; Assiettes tournantes, which is “Reported to contain juggling” according to the JIS, and Jongleur javanais, which “Shows a juggler from Java”. Despite the rather retro geo-cities appearance of the JIS’s website, the 391 strong list has been updated almost every year and it goes to show the dedication and passion people still have to that skill of what the ancient Chinese called “throwing multiple objects up and down without dropping” (a pretty timeless description if you ask me). The history and depiction of juggling may stretch as far back to Egypt around 1994 BCE, according to what appears to be a wall painting of toss-juggling. From then on, it’s description and depictions pop up all over the world, from Ancient China around 800BC, to Greece 600 years later, and then the Roman Empire and even Ireland in the early ADs. Most interestingly however, is that juggling wasn’t the mere parlour trick we might see it as today- it seems in the past, juggling proficiency often spoke volumes of agility and prowess on the battlefield.
I’m calling it- probably the most exciting news this year was that of the Rosetta mission, which after 10 years of traveling managed to get the European Space Agencies Philae lander onto the surface of a comet hurtling through space at 84000 mile an hour. It’s really hard for me to actually conceptualize that happening, that somewhere millions of miles away, after billions of miles of traveling, a tiny wee metal box a bunch of shirt-wearing humans made is lying slightly precariously on cliff on a rock that is about the same size as a LEGO Deathstar if it was made to scale with the minifigs (now THERE’S a statistic I can get behind!).
So, not “The Sunday Night Sketchbook“, but it’s some art, and it’s mine! I finished The Map of Mindcrack last night, which is a picture that started off as a wee joke before developing into a piece I was actually really pleased with. I only wish I had realised earlier how much I was going to develop it so I could have drawn it at a much higher resolution and with more detail! Live and you learn, I guess.
So the last time someone drew some artwork that featured lil’ ol me I of course posted it here because I was so gosh darn excited and privileged that someone had taken them out of their day to draw something for me. So you can imagine my excitement when today one of my favourite artists not only gave me a shout out but also a beautiful depiction of my 10/10 movie star face.
If you follow the link to his post, you can also see the amazing depictions he did of his favourite arty pals. I’m not exaggerating when I say Nick is one of my favourite artists around. His stuff is vibrant and unique, and he pumps out so much consistently good artwork that it’s a regular delight to see a new piece of his pop up on my twitter or tumblr feed. Thankfully, he’s not gone unnoticed as he’s celebrating a fantastic 600 followers over on his tumblr art blog (still not enough though- go follow him! Now!) and I hope his next milestone arrives as soon as possible. His idea to highlight other artists (I don’t think I really count but I’ll take the label “Proficient doodler”) was inspired by my 300 follower post, and it reminded me I really should refresh you guys with some of my favourite arty types and all round cool folks here, in case anyone missed them the first time…
No, really notebooks are so hot right now. As you guys may know, I’m a big fan of diaries, sketchbooks, notebooks and all things handwritten and vaguely journal-y. Last week I posted a wee photo album of my current notebook setup, and I often post pictures of my sketches and various doodles on my Tumblr and Instagram accounts. Unsurprisingly both these platforms are where the majority of attention for my work comes from due to the large artistic and image-sharing base of these websites. Sites like Penaddict, Tumblr blogs and online communities dedicated to discussing the art of diary and notebook keeping are becoming ever more popular. It all ties in to the hipster, thrifty new-age alternate lifestyle subculture that sort of rejects modern products and fetishizes the outdated and less efficient but nonetheless nostalgic & capable technology such as film cameras, typewriters, record players, paper notebooks & diaries, single gear bikes and other outdated items (obviously only to a point- we still need those fancy iPhones to update our Instagram and Twitter feeds to tell you all about the old stuff we use!). Basically, the kind of still that you might pick up in a thrift shop, see propped up in trendy bars or coffee shops, blogged about on new-age news sites, or in the skip behind an Artisanal Portland Kale Garden & Free Range Hemp Chickpea Commune. As much as I’m not a fan of a lot of the arrogance and pretentiousness that goes hand in hand with hipster subculture (though I think I probably despise the ‘cool-to-hate-hipster’ sub-subculture even more, if that makes sense), I am a bit crazy for all things old-fashioned and vintage. Growing up with a grandfather who has literally sheds of old tools, equipment and hoarded pieces of technology from the past 80 years that he still uses day-to-day, I have a bit of a fascination with ‘old stuff’ and trying to adapt or use it in everyday life. This entire movement is very heavily rooted in steampunk and dieselpunk too, of post-war technology and historically anachronistic designs that also appear in a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, something that I’ve always been very interested in. We’re focusing on notebooks today though, more particularly a style of notebooks people seem to love. Describing it is hard, but the consistent ideas and forms people seem to like most in my own notebooks are:
Pages that are overflowing with content- streams of consciousness and entire pages filled it up with drawings and tightly packed words, with no spaces left empty. This idea that paper is at a premium and that each space must be filled gives your pages a historical, valuable feel- as traditionally often paper was at a premium, and those with an expensive diary or notebook would not waste space or paper, or that on their travels it was the only book they had with them, and were forced to fill each square inch with as many observations as they could.
Excessively random or Obsessively neat and academic- both of these approaches emulate an academic look to your notebook. The first presents it as a constant stream of consciousness, an artistic approach in which all your ideas are spilling onto the page. It has an eccentric, artistic approach that you might expect to see from a traveller or explorer, filling up each page with observations and ideas coming in faster than there is time to writer. On the other hand, an academic, super neat approach speaks to the scientific- it’s sometime you’d expect to see in a maybe Mary Ward‘s journals, or the sketches of an inventor in the industrial age.
Annotations, Annotations, Annotations – notes, subnotes, references, margins, bibliographies, notes and observations, corrections and hastily pasted in notes from other journals- these are the hallmarks of observation and study. Old journals are stuffed with these, with hand drawn illustrations and diagrams then carefully annotated and explained. Not only does it make your journal appear like a work that can be studied and instructed, but it shows that it’s a constantly evolving work that isn’t a work of art but rather something used to learn and teach. Check out How to Train your Dragon 2- does he care if his notebook looks neat? Hell no! It’s stuffed full of notes and extensions and crudely pasted on maps- it’s a journal being used! Which leads me to…
Well Traveled, Well Worn, Well Used- This is something best described as “What Indiana Jones would carry in his satchel“, is something that applies not just to notebooks, but also to satchels and clothing. People like the idea of stuff getting used, worn out, hastily fixed and flecked with rust and grit. They want things not simply sitting on a coffee table waiting to be looked at but not touched, but things that have a history, that can make them feel like they got their hands dirty and worked at something. It’s all a part of the distressed, recycled and well-worn fashion that spreads from everything to clothing, automobiles or interior design. Your notebook should not be handled like a religious text, but shoved in bags and stuffed in your pocket, torn and ripped when the time suits it, and treated like apiece of equipment. You want your notebook to tell the story of where you traveled just by looking at it. Indiana Jones didn’t have time to worry if his notebook wasn’t getting scratched, he was busy fighting nazis! When he got wet, burnt or covered in grime & old mummies, he just dusted himself and his notebook off and got back to work!
Oooooh shiiii, it’s back! The Sunday Night Sketchbook Ya’ll. I promised it, and she has returned! This is going to be a LOT of drawings going all the way to the end of June, so hold onta ya butts! Hopefully I can get back into more regularity with these, so enjoy this ultra long post while it lasts- enjoy!