The Street Dancer’s Romance (and tool talk)

Here is the opening image from my new short story, The Street Dancer’s Romance. It will be a wordless story comprising 65 images or so, each on its own page, much like in an old-fashioned woodcut novel. It is safe to say that I have been utterly beguiled by the work of Otto Nuckel and Lynd Ward, and presenting images in this way will also allow the reader to spend more time mulling over each image and absorbing the message behind it. I’ve drawn and inked more than half the pages in this book so perhaps a Christmas deadline is not so unrealistic after all.

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Most of us will have seen buskers and street performers out in the street before. I can’t recall exactly where I saw a street performer like this, it might have been while strolling along the South Bank in London, but I rarely pay much attention to street performers in general. But anyhow, I’d mulled over doing a story about these people for some time and their lives away from the public eye. I chose to do a word-less story this time because it posed a unique challenge to convey a fairly sophisticated story without words, and I had enjoyed drawing The Snack Bar in ‘Painting Stories’. For some reason, it was also one of my more popular stories. It also felt liberating to work on a story without the burden of words.

Maybe I should get around to some tool talk now, having popped down the road to Cass Arts to pick up a Winsor and Newton Cotman III No 2 brush. I’ve more or less worn out my 6th or 7th sable brush so far, and the costs are definitely building up. Despite doing my best to clean the brushes after use, they tend to lose their point after some months and I no longer know whether it’s just an intrinsic problem with sable brushes or my own inadequacies when it comes to brush care. So I noticed on Craig Thompson’s blog that he used the Cotman III No 2 brush for his inking, and being a devout fan of Thompson’s art, I thought if it was good enough for him, it was definitely more than good enough for me. Cotman brushes use synthetic bristles and are therefore a lot cheaper than Kolinsky sable ones.

Well, unfortunately that didn’t turn out too well. I found the Cotman’s bristles rather too stiff, and inking with it felt like drawing with a felt tip pen, the line did not vary as much as I’d wanted. After doing one panel with it, it was a pleasure to return to my somewhat battered Winsor and Newton Kolinksy series 7 sable brush (size 3). Looks like I might have to shell out again to buy yet another one, having started using this one only a few months back in the summer… Despite arduous care, it looks like some of the bristles have fallen out and it is gradually losing its gorgeously pointed shape. But it is still a pleasure to use after a few minutes with the Cotman. But can anyone see the difference between the inking in the panels? Back to Cass Arts tomorrow then, another 10-11 quid poorer!