Friday, November 30, 2012

Artist Feature: Guy Delisle

Some of you may be familiar with the work of animator/comic-artist Guy Delisle. I just picked up a couple of his books from the library the other day, having seen (but not read) his latest graphic novel Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City in a local bookshop. The two books I picked up were his Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China and Burma Chronicles . Yes, Delisle is a sketchpacker.


Delisle has published four travelogue graphic novels so far. He uses the comic medium to record his memories and experiences in the places he visits. Because of this, you will find a very personal perspective coming through his stories. Some reviewers have complained that Delisle has certain biases, or that he should or should not have done certain things during his travels. Well, perhaps they may be right, but his books are a visual diary, not books on teaching people how they should travel and what mindsets they should have. As such they should be treated as simply what they are - one man's sketch diaries. Readers are welcome to disagree with his viewpoints, but they should be just as ready to appreciate the artistry.

Shenzhen was the first of the four travelogue graphic novels by Delisle. You can see that his style is a lot rougher - more "primitive", if you like. Some people find the book boring, but if it is, then I think it is a good reflection of the boredom he experienced while living there. The stories are quite disjointed, as one might expect of diary entries, but there is a certain sense of passage of time - from when he begins his work as an animation director to the day he leaves. He works in monochrome, but his drawings have the characteristic quality of one well-versed in animation - they have good composition (and staging), design, movement and general style.

Burma is quite a bit longer than Shenzhen, probably because life was more interesting for him there. He was practically the stay-at-home dad while his wife was there on assignment with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). You can see his drawing and storytelling style has developed much since Shenzhen. The stories are much more interesting and humourous.

Sketchpacking isn't always about drawing scenery on-location a-la urban sketcher style. You can draw comics to tell stories of your experiences, your thoughts, reflections and inspirations drawn from the place you are visiting. Delisle does this exceptionally well (and has made money doing it too!).

But you don't need to be a trained animator or comic artist like Delisle to do what he does, especially if you're doing it for personal pleasure. In a future post, I'll introduce one of my friends who uses the comic medium to record her travels. Be inspired!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sketchpacking Western Australia 2012: Rottnest Island

The second leg of our trip was a one-night stay in Rottnest Island, about an hour's ferry ride from the Barrack Street Jetty in Perth. The Jetty is pretty near to where we were staying, but I had a load to carry, so we took the free CAT bus there.

While waiting for the ferry, I started sketching. And guess what? I got my timings mixed up. This time we weren't late, but my buddies walked off to queue for the ferry before I realised something was amiss. I quickly snapped a photo and finished the first sketch below on the boat, including the colours.

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

The people sketches below were done during the ferry ride. The other two were done later from photos. Both these sketches and the one above were done with my trusty Hero. The quokka sketch took references from a couple of photos. The angle of the 'shot' was imagined.

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Quokkas are so cute!
Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

We spent the afternoon riding bicycles round the island. After returning the bikes and collecting the keys to our cabin and settling in, we went to buy some dinner before the shops closed at 5 pm. Before eating, my buddies gave me some time off to go sketch. I did the following sketch in pencil and watercolour on-location:

Same scene taken the next day under different lighting
Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

 We stayed one night at Rottnest. It was too short. I will stay at least two nights the next time. We took the earliest ferry back to Fremantle, which was a shorter journey back, and picked up our car for the long drive down to Margaret River. We stopped at Busselton on the way with intentions of visiting the 1.8 km-long jetty and the underwater observatory at the other end, but I forgot to call to book in advance, and they didn't have any more tickets for the day. We settled for ice-cream instead, and bought some nougat when we reached Margaret River before checking in to our accommodation. The sketches below were done from photos using my Hero pen.

I got the sticker at the Rottnest Island office

Busselton Jetty
Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Simmo's Ice-Cream, just next to Busselton Jetty

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Bettenay's Nougats!

Sketchpacking Western Australia 2012: Perth City

Over the next few posts I'll be putting up scans from my travel sketch-journal of my recent trip to Western Australia. You'll find that there are different types of sketches, different media, and different approaches. Some sketches are on-location. Others are representative or illustrative, and not done on-site. I'll add some annotations to share the different approaches and thought processes.

The posts will be split into 4 parts following the 4 legs of our journey:
  1. Perth City
  2. Rottnest Island
  3. Margaret River
  4. Fremantle
There are a total of 25 pages, about half of which I drew only after coming back home. Sometimes you just don't have that much time when you travel, which is why you should always carry a camera - and use it!


Day 0: Singapore to Perth

 The sketch above was done while waiting for our flight at Singapore's Changi Airport. I used a Hero 578 pen with Calli ink (I loaded Calli ink into the pen because it's waterproof, unlike normal fountain pen ink which would mess up if you tried to use watercolour over it). These guys were my travel buddies for this trip. We were probably the last to board our plane after I finished this drawing! Lesson learned: Never EVER get so engrossed in sketching till you miss your flight!



The right sketch was done using a Faber Castell Pitt brush-tip pen. I used a gel pen for the air stewardess, but the ink seemed to be not so waterproof. I used the gel pen instead of the Hero because it can be dangerous to use fountain pens or cartridge pens on an airplane. The air pressure difference would cause an overflow of ink and become very messy. Watercolours were Winsor & Newton artist quality watercolours. I believe they were applied using a waterbrush (the air pressure would affect the water flow, but since it's plain water, it's not so bad).

Day 1: Perth City

PICA - Perth Institute of Contemporary Art
Drawn on-site with the Hero pen and wash applied later. Sometimes you just don't have time to apply colours on-site.

My sketch of PICA

That's me sketching PICA
PICA is situated in the Cultural Centre area of Perth, where you will also find the Western Australian Museum, the Art Museum and the Library.

I managed another sketch that day of the WA Museum:

Western Australian Museum
My sketch of WA Museum. Wash applied later

 The following sketches were done from photos. That gave me a bit of time to think of what to include on this page. I took a fair bit of artistic license with the Town Crier sculpture, which was actually dark bronze, not white.
Sculptures and Sandy
Town Crier

Reclining Figure by Henry Moore

Adam, by Rodin
 Sketching can make you new friends! I saw a girl sketching the railway station and started a conversation.
Sandy and Me
 She even joined us for dinner!

Dinner at Pepper Lunch - one of the only affordable places open at that hour

 Day 2: King's Park

It was a very sunny day and pretty hot in the afternoon. Perfect for going to the park! But before that we took a walk round the city and had our breakfast. The following sketches were done from photographs using the Hero pen. I was trying to take in all the sights that I didn't have time to sit down and sketch.

Stirling Gardens
Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Swan Bells
Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012
 It was Spring, so the flowers were in bloom at King's Park! The wildflower festival was on. Three things about King's Park left a deeper impression: 1) Memorials - there were many; 2) Flowers - they were colourful and pretty; 3) Bushland - a large part of the park has been preserved as bushland. I didn't manage to catch the Indigenous Tours because they didn't run on Sundays... :(

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Boab Tree
Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Red Kangaroo's Paw
Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012

Copyright © Favian Ee Sept 2012