Super excited to see my Benny the Whale book finally hit the press yesterday! I have been working on this book on and off for the last year and a half, and can’t wait for it to be finally out there… #bennythewhale
We went to see Smallfoot last night. Sony’s most recent blockbuster with some great character and environment designs. It was a nice little film, with a good message on the dangers of perception, and fearing the unfamiliar.
Well I think I’ve finally wrapped up my first children’s book, “Benny the whale goes to Niagara Falls” definitely alot of fun! I have to admit though I am looking forward to drawing some stuff that isn’t whales for a while! Here’s the last page I finished which is the Niagara-on-the-Lake page, where Benny’s dad enters the mouth of the Niagara River looking for him.
I’m very excited to be having an exhibition of my work at the Niagara Pumphouse Gallery for the month of November and wanted to share the poster. The opening will be the first Friday of November, Nov. 2 at 7, snacks and refreshments will be available and it should be a great night, really looking forward to it! Hope to see some of you there.
This portrait tells the story of James Andrews a commodore in the British navy, and his ship the HMS Ontario which disappeared in lake Ontario during a storm on Halloween, Oct 31 1780. The HMS Ontario was the largest British warship in the great lakes, and on that day it was set to sail from Fort Niagara at the mouth of the Niagara river to Fort Haldimand, first stopping in Oswego when it was caught in an autumn nor’easter. according to the ships records there were over 170 passengers on board, including the crew, British soldiers, passengers, and American prisoners, all of whom perished. Legend had it that the HMS Ontario may have been carrying a small fortune in gold as a year’s pay for the British garrison at fort Haldimand on Carleton island. While many historians have dismissed this legend, this fact along with its date and historical significance have made it the holy grail of shipwrecks for treasure hunters in the great lakes. it was discovered off the shores of the lake towards Rochester in 2008, but the details and its exact location have not never been revealed.
Upon reflection, my recent journey of research and enquiry has been both rewarding and surprising. I knew I wanted to explore “Canadian identity through illustrated children’s books” as a theme, but selecting a keyword proved challenging. I eventually selected the keyword “Story” with the intention of examining uniquely Canadian myths and legends that could be applied to illustrated children’s books. This would also allow me to explore the idea of trying to pack as much “story” as possible into a single image. As a busy father of a three-year-old, I am aware that page-count, and keeping the story pure and simple, are key aspects in producing children’s books.
Keeping things simple is something I have always struggled with. Having settled on my theme and keyword I was horrified by how broad both appeared, but was excited by the possibilities they possessed. In an attempt to streamline my research I sought to break my process into three distinct avenues: technique, methodology and subject matter. My hope was that by isolating aspects of my process it would help narrow my focus.
A prevailing thought I had as I began this enquiry was that methodology was dangerous and that structure could stagnate creativity. As my research progressed, I felt this became my area of most profound growth, as I came to believe that a well-defined methodology could possibly be a key to differentiating myself as an artist.
With regard to methodology, I discovered the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung on archetypes and personalities to be very applicable in defining one’s individual process and methodology.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”
This is a sentiment that resonates with me as an artist. It also reflects my belief in technique as I subscribe to the theory that the key to evolving one’s own style is practice. I believe that by putting in the hours, an artist will gravitate towards the techniques and elements that come most naturally. For me detail, lighting and line of action as it relates to characters have been prevailing themes.
My initial concern that researching my theme would be very labour intensive turned out to be well-founded. My research opened the door to many ethical questions regarding bias in children’s books which I had not previously considered. I quickly became aware that these ethical considerations were not something I could ignore.
I had some set ideas on where I wanted to go with this topic but had underestimated the psychology involved in targeting children of different ages. This has led me to identify the subjects of child audiences and related semiotics as areas that require further research.
Overall I feel that my research and the related blog have introduced me to influential artists and opened up my eyes to some pertinent nuances regarding methodology and techniques. In addition I feel that the blog has served as a useful tool in bridging the gap between research and practice.
Tiago Hoisel is a Brazilian Illustrator and 3D artist who I’ve admired for some time. He recently posted these videos which demonstrate his creative process. I’m not sure how they were recorded in respect to the timeline, but regardless the techniques he uses are very interesting, in particular the one where he begins with a shaded sphere. I also stumbled upon some interesting funding options that allow Canadian and Brazilian artists to work together. I have included the link and some details below.
A simple video showing a bit of one of my creative processes.
It’s experimental, a kind of a brainstorm trying some different designs, so some of them may work, some not.