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Mayfaire

Techniques

 

How I Draw This Stuff:

The absolute funnest part of any drawing is the idea. Sometimes I’ll see an ethereal-looking child that I think will make a most perfect faery, or I’ll accidentally stumble upon an enchanted space that begs to be copied down on paper. Capturing faces and places is easy with a camera (and permission), and I’ll use one often. At other times a dream or a thought or a quotation will bring an image to mind. In times like that, I’ll grab the closest thing to sketch on — a restaurant napkin, a deposit slip, my dining room wall, even my hand(!) — and get the gist of it down in line.

Not every idea becomes a finished drawing. I’ll often go through my archives of sketches to see what rekindles my imagination, and sometimes years will pass before a particular sketch will finally inspire me. When I do decide to flesh out an idea, I’ll brainstorm with the original sketch, turning it around on paper, putting it in unusual situations, giving it new roles until something clicks. Then it’s down to the details…

First step is coffee, of course. Or tea in a real English teapot, with a real English cup and saucer and tea-towel cozy. On a tray, even! And then the music: maybe Enya or Loreena McKennitt or — a big favorite — Wendy Carlos’s ‘Fall’ from her Sonic Seasonings CD. Some incense… Shut the studio door to keep the cat out… Put on the slippers, crack the knuckles, turn on the light over the drawing table, sharpen the pencil, stare long and hard at the big, endless, intimidating piece of stark white paper that I’m about to eventually sully with pencil. Then make a mark and erase it. The damage is done! And now I can relax and begin.

That initial, ‘about-to-eventually-become-the-finished-drawing’ sketch is the next funnest part after hatching the idea. When I can begin to see its wispy outline on the paper, I’ll put a cotton glove on my drawing hand and take care not to unnecessarily smudge anything from that point on. If there’s a face in the picture, I’ll begin with its eyes. Even if it’s a very small face in a very large picture. I believe the eyes are the soul of the drawing, and completing them gives the whole thing instantaneous life… After the eyes, the rest of the drawing falls into place. (Earlier in my career, I would’ve begun inking in what would eventually be the finished art immediately after completing this detailed sketch.)

Now with pencil (and eventually soft dark graphite), I go over the drawing in myriad shades of gray, building up the shadowed areas and fleshing out the form. I’ve since chosen pencil/graphite as my favorite medium over ink because of the softness of the finished look and the layers of delicate detail that can be achieved. I think pencil captures the moment a piece is given the spark of Life. It is the bare bones of the subject, showing it in its purest and most honest form. Perhaps one day my opinion will change, but for now I believe that anything beyond the pencil stage is adornment. I no longer work with color but I’m not a stranger to it, having painted in oils and acrylics for years before deciding to work solely in pencil. But in those days I would often regret adding color to penciled or inked pieces, feeling as though I’d ‘tarted up’ the innocent drawings in an attempt to make them more mainstream. (Want an example of what I mean? Find a video or DVD copy of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ the one that shows the animation in varying stages of production. Then fast forward to the ending scene where the Beast is transformed into a man. Replay it over and over again and cry.)

Almost always, the picture ‘tells’ me when it’s done. At that point I’ll affix a sheet of vellum over the image with teensy bits of cloth tape, put the whole thing into an oversized portfolio, and pay a visit to my printers: brothers Mike and Mark Kuzma at Flaire Print Communications Inc. in Minneapolis. These guys ROCK! (And they’re a major hoot to work with!) They manage to reproduce my work to look so much like the original that human eyes cannot tell the two apart without technology. These gentlemen earn every penny I pay them.

delayne and JamesWhen the Kuzmas are done babysitting my creations, I bow, scrape, grovel and promise them whatever straw I can manage to spin into gold, sign and number the lithos they give me, back the gorgeous prints with cardboard and shrinkwrap them myself, pack the whole bunch in my rusty car, and haul them to RenFest on a Friday night before a show weekend. During set-up, I try to prepare myself to expose them to you — The Audience — bright and early the next day. You’ll have to ask my partner and hawker, James, whether or not the preparation part is all that easy. He'll be MORE than happy to tell you the Funny Version…

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Updated 4/15/2002





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