There’s something about the faff of stretching paper, the stink of masking fluid, and constantly running up and down the stairs for clean water (note to self: I would like a sink in my future studio) that makes me feel like a real artist. When I walk to the corner shop and only notice on my return that I have a huge smudge of blue on my nose, or drop a paintbrush and create an inky splatter all over the studio floor, I feel like I’m doing the job I always dreamed about when I was a little kid.
Spending an entire year working on the drawings for Lighter Than My Shadow, a single project of 500 pages in the same medium, was wonderful. It became meticulous, routine, comfortable. And I think that doing a lot of the work digitally added to that feeling of comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually believe that art created partially or wholly in digital media is not real art, or lesser in any way. But there is an element of safety in knowing that any mark laid down can be unmade. And you get used to it.
I started using inks when I made a Comic for Jason Molina back in March. It was an intuitive decision based on what was right for the project. The fact that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing didn’t matter in the slightest. I have made the intuitive decision again for The Crystal Mirror and Other Stories, and I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. Because I’m working with the intention of creating a printed book (rather than a one-off piece only intended to share online), the not-knowing feels very uncomfortable, almost dangerous. I feel a pressure to get things ‘right’, and a great risk that I might make an unintended, uncontrolled mark that I cannot undo.
But perhaps that feeling of danger is not necessarily a bad thing. It also feels good to be pushing myself, and learning something new. It feels real.
Yes, these images are sneak peeks at The Crystal Mirror & Other Stories, but they are absolutely the last I’ll share here until the book is published. If you’d like weekly updates on my progress with the book there’s still time to become a supporter: www.thecrystalmirror.co.uk