Since my last post in April specific to my graphic novel, I've been working steadily with my editor at WW Norton to reinforce the flow of the story. It involved a lot of old-fashioned cutting and pasting with X-acto knife and rubber cement. I moved comics panel around, drew new ones to fill in vacant spots or to emphasize a point. I like tactile work, which mere typing at the computer lacks.
I thought, we would not be finished with this last pounce of the editing run until well into fall, but here we are in the first week of September, and my editor has signaled me that there are no more "fixes" to be made. On Wednesday, a museum curator will come to look at the art for a possible show and then Thursday, the two hundred and fifty hand-drawn and handwritten pages go to New York.
Trustworthy Matt taketh it all away. When he says, "It will be there tomorrow," I know I can count on it.
After completing a thirteen years-long project, Instead of feeling light, spacious and free, as if airborne with the flock of snow geese I am currently illustrating, I felt bluesy last week, stretched out in the strip of sun on the living room floor for entire afternoons. I felt sore all over.
When I started the process of drawing my graphic novel three years ago, it took me a few weeks to figure out the tools of the trade, the formats, the styles, and more importantly, whether I should use computer programs like PhotoShop or execute the work entirely by hand. Some artists draw with PhotoShop; they manipulate lines, texture and color by specific choices they make with clicks of the mouse, never using a pen or pencil at the sketch stage. I am adept at using computer programs, but I decided to go with the hand drawn.
I believe there is nothing quite like an entirely handmade line, although many will argue that using a Wacom pen tablet is just an extension of the hand, like a pencil or brush. But I love having a finished product I can display at libraries and museum galleries, an object that smells of ink and paint. I have real objects, which exist as singular, unique products.
And I love the tools of my trade. I value the various round brushes, which I are responsive to my moods, and the pigment markers of varying diameters to make dark lines, squiggles, hatches, dots. I love the kneaded eraser, the electric eraser, the Ames guide, which helps me write rows of even script.
I even like the humble tofu containers I use as palettes for the black gouache (opaque watercolor). One last good reason for the hand drawn: as I age, the work at a drawing board is gentler on my eyes than the pixels, which the eye's irises cannot entirely fix on. The pixels do not exist at a specific depth so the ciliary muscle must contract and relax, contract and relax in its attempt to focus the image on the retina.
Today, I've started on another project, definitely not something that will take fourteen years to reach publication, but a shorter Chinese-English project for Candlewick, which my children's book editor had asked me to try my hand at some half a dozen years ago. In this economy, I am thrilled to be occupied and employed. I must admit I am lazy, but at the same time, I enjoy my life more when I am lazily going about my projects, a steady stream of them. When I don't have a relatively big one in progress, I feel ill at ease.
But friends tell me I need to celebrate, to put a definitive closure on hard work and to reward myself. I am taking their suggestion to heart. I will indeed celebrate. Maybe all month!
And, I have another big project churning in my brain. I won't talk about it, because I am superstitious and realistic: the more I talk, the less I write and draw. It's like the tire gauge, which must let out a puff of air from the tire, each time you test the tire pressure. I don't want to be deflated in the incremental revealing of a dream.
Causes Belle Yang Supports
826 Valencia Street