Drawing, Knitting, Thoughts, Work In Progress, Zines

Things Happening Slowly Around Here

Green Bean Progress 1

One of the things I’ve found odd about my work as an illustrator over the last few years is a need to be secret. If I’m working on a book, a comic for a magazine, or some other commission, it’s not always OK to share work in progress.

When I first started blogging, back in 2008 (alas, you won’t find evidence of it – I botched the transition from Blogger to WordPress and lost everything), one of the things that kept me doing it regularly was sharing every stage of every thing I was working on. I was also…how shall we put it? A little on the compulsive side. I blogged a lot. I didn’t sleep much.

Since then, I’ve slowed down for my health and sanity, but for the pleasure in my work as well. I’ve learned that over long periods of time, my creativity actually doesn’t respond well to me cracking the whip. I burn out. I stop having fun. It becomes a treadmill and a chore, and for a career path that’s also financially challenging, that makes no sense. It needs to bring me joy. So these days I’m trying to remember that and embrace a slower process, though it’s not always comfortable.

Green Bean Progress

The pages above are from a Green Bean issue that has been on and off my drawing board since February, weathering losses of confidence and direction and needing to be laid aside often for commissioned work. Sometimes I miss the days when I could confidently churn out a Green Bean every two months (heck, I did it every month in the first year. Madness!), but those days are gone.

Now, I regularly take breaks to sit with my knitting. Working a few rows has become a kind of daily practice that reminds me of the rewards of patience, and that the best part of any creative work is the process itself, not the end result.

Jumper In Progress

It was knitting, in fact, that helped me navigate my way back into drawing after my burn out. It began with drawing comics for Pom Pom Quarterly, the first of which was published in winter 2014. The latest, due in the winter 2015 issue, is what’s been absorbing most of my time for the last two months. I remain obsessed with scratch board, again a significant factor in my exploration of working more slowly. Scratch board is about the most labour intensive medium there is. When I worked on Lighter Than My Shadow, I routinely drew 12 pages a week, at times up to 18. For this latest comic I scratched one. One gloriously absorbing, meditative, financially unsustainable but who-cares-because-I’m-hanging-out-with-the-dog-and-enjoying-making-art-again page a week.

Sadly I can’t show you much as it’s a secret until publication, but I’m chuffed with it. I think it’s one of the best pieces I’ve ever drawn. Here’s a little peek…

Scratchboard for Pom Pom

Now that the Pom Pom comic is finished, that Green Bean, the one that’s been on and off the drawing board, will get some attention. I won’t finish it this week, perhaps not even this month. Who knows. What I do know is that it will be one of the most thoughtful and beautiful of all the Green Beans. And so will the one that follows it. All in good time.

By the way, that “I am doing a new thing” card, pictured at the top, was a design created especially for Green Bean subscribers, to explain what on earth has been going on and why they haven’t received a zine for so long. It was inspired by this embroidery, by talented lady and dear friend, Mollie Johanson.

Comics, Drawing, Knitting

The Courage To Be Me

The Courage To Be Me Katie Green Title Page

I recently had the great privilege of contributing a chapter of illustrations to The Courage To Be Me by Dr. Nina Burrowes. Now available in full to read online, as an ebook or in print, this book tells a story of courage, self-compassion and hope after sexual abuse, following five women as they take the first steps to rebuild their lives. Doing this work felt very close to my heart as I have much in common with each of the (fictional) women portrayed. I hope the book’s reach will be far and wide, helping anyone who’sΒ known abuse to realise they are not alone.

But as well as being a survivor of abuse, the character whose story I told, Maddie, was also a knitter. This balanced the very emotive subject matter with one of my favourite things to draw, andΒ thus made the project very enjoyable as well as something I’m really proud to have been a part of.

The Courage To Be Me Knitting

Crafting, Knitting, Rubber Stamps

A Stamp for Knitters

Handmade by Knitters' stamp tag

I’ve been rediscovering my love of knitting lately, and in doing so I found the inspiration for adding a new custom rubber stamp to my range (it’s definitely a range, now there are two designs, right?). I recently completed a scarf for my friend Howard, and wanted to add a little something when I wrapped it up. I decided a “Handmade by…” label would be perfect, so I set about designing one.

The basic idea was straightforward: a knitter’s stamp should definitely include needles and yarn, and if there’s swirling yarn then why not make the yarn spell out the text? Figuring out just the right placement of the ball of yarn, needles and words took a little playing around until I hit on the right fit.

handmade-by-sketches

Handmade by Knitters' Stamp

I’m chuffed to bits with the finished design, and I love receiving a package of a drawing I’ve made turned into a beautiful hardwood backed stamp by the English Stamp Company. I spent a little while mulling over which colour to make the first impression with, then settled on trusty Green Bean recycled brown, and black ink to complement the greys in the scarf. The result was Β a very crisp, smart-looking tag to accompany Howard’s scarf on its journey to him, and a new product I’m very proud of that I hope other knitters will enjoy playing with too.

Handmade by Knitter's Stamp Label

You can order your own customised “Handmade by…” stamp, or buy one for the avid knitter in your life, here.

Crafting, Sketchbook

Bookbinding in the Sunshine

spring bookbinding

There’s something about the sunshine, the first flowers, the scent of spring in the air that makes me crave a new beginning. And what better way to begin than with a new sketchbook? So I sat amongst the daisies and bound 75 sheets of my favourite drawing paper. I picked this cow fabric for the cover – one from the pile of “I like this, I don’t know what I’ll use it for but I’ll buy it anyway” – and a sweet yellow gingham ribbon so my sketchbook matches the garden and also feels like spring.

bookbinding

 

Crafting, Knitting

My First Knitting Lesson

I’ve been continuing to enjoy making things with thread and yarn lately, rather than (or as well as) pen and paper. Particularly I’ve rediscovered the joys of knitting, and that inspired me to make this little comic about my first knitting lesson with my fabulous Grandma when I was about seven years old.

knitting with grandma

My skills have progressed a little since then…