March 24, 2016

Shaun Tan Again & Thoughts on the Process of Creating

Sketch painting. Playing around in your sketch book. Doodling. Creating for no purpose.

Shaun Tan sums up his thoughts regarding sketching and the process of creating well in the intro of his book 'The Bird King and Other Sketches'.
The Bird king (affiliate link)

He talks about the freedom that comes with just playing in your sketch book or doodling. The lines are so fresh and not self- conscious. Sometimes this natural organic feel gets lost in translation, when you redraw or go to do the final piece.

I can relate to this well. Some of my better works come from being free of expectations. Having the pressure of creating something good lifted and to just create for the sheer joy of it can be a mindful way of producing art, and a great way to enjoy the process of the activity in itself without being encumbered by what the end result will be.

You stuff it up; it doesn't matter.

I just found myself saying "Yes!" to Shaun's words regarding his thoughts on that aspect of creating. He mentions children having an intuitive understanding about the need to just 'make' over the need to produce something with purpose or meaning behind it. We can all take a leaf from that book.

I like the way he thinks. The intro is only a couple of pages long, but obviously his words really struck me. The rest of the book is filled with sketchy, raw works with some more explanations along the way. His technical ability is awe inspiring.

It's magical to get to peer into his personal sketch books. It must be quite personal to publish a book with raw drawings of rough instantaneous thoughts and ideas. Being an artist & illustrator myself I know the emotional investment I have in my art; and the sketches and doodles can be like holding a mirror up to yourself and then showing the world. It would sort of feel like having yourself photographed for a publication whilst you're still in your pyjamas. I would imagine!

I recently completed a one-painting-a-day-for-5-days challenge and I felt this freedom of creating whilst whipping up some quick works. I'm showing you two of those here. It's so much fun that I really do have to make more time for these quick sketch- book type works. And you learn a lot too, from these quick exercises.
And whilst I'm swooning over Shaun Tan's art, let's keep the theme going and talk about his new book "The Singing Bones".
The Singing Bones (affiliate link)

I came across this book in the kids section of my local book shop; but it would have been right at home with the arty books. It screams to me: "I'm really pretty, I need to live on your coffee table"!

It's a book which has small excerpts from the old Grimm's Fairy Tales, which he has created 3D sculptures to illustrate. There is one 'story' per double page spread.

And it seems 3D sculpture comes just as naturally to Shaun as do his 2D works.

Sometimes I sense an awkwardness in illustrations; but it's never the case with Shaun's works. These forms are so organic it seems they have slipped straight from his brain into a real- life dimension.

Some of the themes are often macabre. Such were the old fairy tales. You might have to brush over some themes when sharing this book with children, depending on what age they are and what they can handle. (I know my Miss 5 loves a little bit of the interesting scary stuff!)

I see this book as another of his Art Books, like a folio of work. The pieces are so creative and textural and interesting to look at I imagine it will be a book that I will never be done with. Inspiring for young and old.

Jules :)

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. You can be confident that I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

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