Friday, February 03, 2012

What Makes A Reject

Don Michael Jr. made a comment about who and why some of my illustrations were rejected so I thought I'd share a few "before" and "after" points.

Some pictures were a bit blurry or had drips or mistakes that can occur with watercolours. I wasn't too fussy about these if they made interesting shapes, and in fact I like the effect of shapes like that, but sometimes the paintings blurred a bit overnight in unexpected ways, which made me decide to paint them again. Here is the first illustration for a poem called New Buds...

It's okay generally but rather blurry, and the main plant has leaked so much into the background that a lot of definition was lost, so I decided to crisp it up a bit, but generally repaint the same scene, here...

For others, I decided that I didn't like the concept as much. A poem called Drowning in Touch initially involved an embrace of many colours...

Ignore the red spot in the top right, that wasn't there when I first finished! I quite like the fragmented black blob, which came from the shellac ink; much nicer than watercolour black. When repainting though I wanted to try and convey touch in more ways and at least make the couple seem more realistic.

The poem is about two people entwined in embrace and it made me think of two spirals and so the second illustration fitted the poem better, I think.

I've pained about 50 of these so far and have about another 50 to go. I'll be hosting a poetry event in Crewe on April 23rd, so now I have an event to show people the book at. Poets tend to be the poorest of artists. Poetry books don't sell brilliantly and poetry books are printed cheaply to be sold cheaply. I can't really afford that; I aim to use Blurb and I either print everything in full colour or everything in black and white, so if I choose colour I might as well put colour on every page and make something impressive and valuable. If it costs £50 a copy then the people who buy it will treasure it. That at least is true.

I've been looking again at William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience; the book of two parts he printed and hand painted in the 1790's. He only sold less than 30 copies in his lifetime; but did that matter to him or to art? I hope not. I hope that he knew that the beautiful book he worked so hard on back then would one day be re-printed easily and in thousands so that 220 years later, ordinary people like me can own a copy and love it. I make my art with that same faith and the same sure knowledge.

4 comments :

Robin said...

Hi Mark. I have been thinking about putting a book together too, good luck with your poetry book and let me know how it goes. I love both versions of each painting but the crisper versions are more stimulating to me. In the past when I have "blurred" watercolors I add pen and ink for details, another option.

-Don said...

Cool! Thanks for sharing your processes here, Mark. I think both of the decisions you walked us through were well thought out and right on. I'm intrigued with how different the colors were between the two versions of Drowning In Touch. The first version were more 'earthy' and muted, while the second version's were more brilliant and raw - creating two totally different emotional responses.

Good luck with this continuing project. I look forward to following along as you bring it to fruition.

-Don

Arena Shawn said...

You know, I really love your paintings. I discovered your blog from Robin's blog link, and... It's fascinating. I paint in watercolor too but often very literally -- too literal to my own like a lot of times. The paintings shown here are very poetic. And the analyses are very helpful and informative too. Thanks for sharing. I guess I will stop by often in the future to check on updates... ^__^

Mark Sheeky said...

Ooh, thank you Arena for that really inspiring reply! I'll take a peek at your blog now. I must update mine a bit, I've been typically busy this week.