Learning From a Writer

My good friend Jackie Hames is a stellar fantasy writer. In fact she just released her debut novella on Kindle, Bound. We’ve been collaborating on a few works and have lots of exciting work forthcoming so stay tuned! As a creative exercise, Jackie wrote a phrase that she had rolling around in her noggin, and I illustrated. In turn, I provided her with a piece from my sketchbook and she wrote a stunning story about it. You can check out the story she wrote, The Girl in the Trees here, and you should because it's quite magical.

Jackie provided me with this:

“I am the magic that fills the night, the dark that sets the stars alight.”

Immediately my mind rushed to personification. Blues and purples and twinkling stars. Feminine Magic. Here's what I came up with.

Night Magic Woman, 2015. Gouache, collage, colored pencil, on paper.

I started with a series of thumbnails as the rush of ideas came to me. These are quick scribbles, no more than 2"x2" usually. I pick the one that feels right, either by design or balance. Then I do a small color test, usually in colored pencil, to get my palette set. And then to the big paper I go. I freehand cut those collaged mountains because I just needed to, even though I'd sketched them out. Illustration is a very intuitive thing for me. Even though the sketch is set, I still change things at the last moment. It's all about that feel.

I also used stencils this time, cut from some scrap watercolor paper using an X-Acto knife, to create the forest atop the mountains. I will certainly be using this technique again.

Interpreting this phrase was a great exercise for both of us, allowing a peek into our collective creative processes. As a visual artist, it's important that the filter we process a writer's work through is clear and focused but does justice to both our work simultaneously. We do not create art in a vacuum, it's there for the interpretation of others. It's good to see that the messages we wish to convey can get through clearly.