Drawing, Thoughts, Work In Progress

Slowly Does It

penguins 2Some days I think my growing fondness for scratch board, officially the slowest drawing medium in the world, is a curse, impractical and quite frankly idiotic.

Other days I think it is teaching me an important lesson.

Since Lighter Than My Shadow was published, I’ve been trying really hard not to approach everything in life like an eating disorder. If anyone is wondering how that comparison makes sense, consider that my former approach to making art involved a lot of lists, target sheets, unreasonable goals and considerable self-flagellation for not achieving them. It became clear in the aftermath of my book that this approach was not only destructive, but unsustainable and honestly not a lot of fun: it was removing all joy from drawing, purportedly the thing I love most in the world. And so I decided to learn to do things differently.


Here’s where the world’s slowest drawing medium comes in. I have no choice but to let it go slowly. An A4 page takes me the better part of a week. My penguin poster has taken two months so far and is still not done. Yet I’ve just decided to also use scratch board for some (not all!) of the next Green Bean.


I am making marks every day, and by my old standards I do not have a lot to show for it. My blog is quiet because I am not churning out work at an unsustainable rate. When I do post, I feel like I’m writing the same thing over and over, justifying to myself that this slower pace is  OK. In truth, living with it is extraordinarily uncomfortable. The old pattern would have me down tools in despair, lamenting that there’s no point trying if I can’t conquer the world by tomorrow lunchtime.

I am not doing that. I am going back to the drawing board and making the marks I can make today; learning to let that be enough.

Work In Progress, Zines

How A Green Bean Comes To Life II

I’m always juggling work on the Green Bean with a hundred other things. This means I have to be super-organised in order to put out issues as regularly as I do (which truly isn’t very regularly at all!)

Green Bean Pencils

Every page starts with a rough pencil sketch, which varies from being very loose and open to precise and organised. Usually if there’s going to be writing I leave the space blank – I rarely plan what I’m going to write, just go for it spontaneously, which is why the sentences in The Green Bean are sometimes a little strange and full of typos. I try to do the pencil sketches in batches, say, of 5 double pages at a time. With the thinking part done, I can then dip in and out of inking those pages in between other the work over the course of a week or so.

Green Bean Inks 1

When drawing the Green Bean, I work with 01 and 005 Micron pens, which I’ve found produce a very consistent line that scans well. I draws, perhaps ill-advisedly, on the same paper upon which Green Beans are printed. It’s 100% recycled photocopy paper that I buy in great reams, ploughing through several a month. I like how the surface takes the ink of the Micron pens, and I also like that it’s cheap and cheerful. I get horribly intimidated by expensive paper, and afraid I might never draw anything. The downside of my beloved copy paper is that it’s not made to last: after a year or two, especially if kept in the light, it suffers very serious yellowing. I happen to like the effect, but it means that my original drawings will never be worth very much as they’re not likely to be around in 50 years. Oh well.

These pages-in-progress are from the forthcoming Green Bean: Volume 4, Issue 3.

Green Bean Inks 2

Work In Progress, Zines

How A Green Bean Comes To Life


A little over three years ago, I set pen to paper on Volume 1, Issue 1 of a little something I called The Green Bean.

When I decided I wanted to make my own magazine (I didn’t even really know what a zine was), I didn’t really think much about whether anyone would read it. I mean, I knew I wanted to sell it, but I never really expected anyone to buy, except perhaps well-meaning and polite friends and family who probably wouldn’t read it anyway.

Volume 1, Issue 1 came out in May 2010, and I was fortunate enough to have it reviewed on Pikaland which gave it a great headstart. Since then my regular(ish) paper ramblings have found a steadily growing audience all over the world, and I’m still not sure quite how! Perhaps it’s best not to question these things, and just be thankful to the people that support me to keep doing something that I love so much.

As the Green Bean heads into it’s fourth year of publication, production has become quite streamlined. It’s had to be, really, for me to keep it going alongside work on much bigger projects, Lighter Than My Shadow and The Crystal Mirror. Every issue begins life as a page of notes or a list, and I’m usually 2-3 issues ahead of myself with the planning. Sometimes I’ll settle on a theme that guides the content, other times I just add ideas to the list as and when the come and an issue ends up being a nice hotch-potch.

The issue I’m working on now is loosely about picnics and summer walks. I have other issues in the pipeline for later this year: one about moving to a new town, one about turning 30, and always my favourite ones to produce: an issue about an upcoming holiday.

Once I’ve planned a whole issue, I can start drawing (that’s tomorrow’s blog).