This is an overview of my image-making process in the creation of Moo D. Cow.
When I first created Moo D Cow in visual form I had piles of drawings of children I had observed and sketched (in a school setting) and then lots more of Joey - the calf at the local farm who had 'sleepy cow syndrome'.
I loved his quirkiness and slightly dishevelled appearance.
I worked hard on paper to merge the information I had gathered in order to capture the character of Moo D Cow. It was a real struggle coming up with a believable character that didn't look too creepy! I was trying too hard to ‘get it right’.
My breakthrough came one day when a fellow MA student suggested I loosen up, play some music and draw big, loose sketches. I practised this on A1 layout paper in charcoal and that was when Moo D. Cow seemed to emerge and really come to life.
Over time, the way that I create the images has evolved from black charcoal into colour. Inspired by
the humour and life in the drawings of Sir Quentin Blake, I began to use ink dip pen and watercolour paint to liven up the image and bring out the humour. I chose to use a broken, slightly shaky line to enhance Moo D. Cow's sense of vulnerability. The line has since become firmer, sometimes in pen, sometimes in pencil, sometimes no line at all. Many of these fluctuations have been my response to feedback and expertise accessed along the way.
In the early days I had no knowledge of Photoshop so, with university deadlines looming, I would painstakingly photocopy the image, shrink it, cut it out with scissors and glue it into the collaged scene of a dummy book.
The above two images were lots of fun to make with glue, scissors and scraps of paper.
Although the hand-drawn look was and is important to me I have found that making the effort to overcome my resistance to Photoshop has improved the quality and efficiency of my creative work. Now I tend to scan in textures that I have created, using mono print, collage and watercolour and then layer these digitally, to add interest to certain parts of the image. I find it helpful to digitally assemble the parts to create a composition I’m happy with.
I love to explore different processes and rethink things from time to time. Lately, I have started to crave the simple charcoal sketchiness that I think depicts Moo D. Cow really well and I am developing new ways of incorporating that with the new digital skills I have acquired. With all the experimentation there is a temptation to overthink and overcomplicate things.
In the midst of it all ‘Keep it simple’ is the motto that I keep coming back to.