Did you think I was never going to complete my Zombie Sketchbook? Honestly, for a while there, me too. Man, life got busy. It’s that most wonderful time of the year where my free time disappears in a flurry of far too much activity and everything just descends into chaos. I mean, you know it has to be hectic when I cannot even find 20 minutes in a day for a quick zombie drawing. What was especially frustrating about this hiatus from art is that it happened when I was so close to the finish line. I had one blank page left. That is all. One more illustration and I was done. Furthermore, the longer the gap between drawings got, the more creatively crippled I was by thoughts of having to “go out with a bang”. That little, critical interior voice gets louder and louder when I give it room to grow and the lapse in time was just the fuel it needed.
However, yesterday afternoon, a change in my usual schedule meant I actually found time to just quietly sit down with my drawing materials and get the last drawing done. Given its status as the final illustration, I felt it was appropriate to draw a zombie sort of slowly waving farewell. I also decided to include a pink brain to provide a sort of “alpha and omega” structure to the entire series of drawings since my first illustration (way back in August!) also included a pink brain. One is being eaten; the other is doing the eating. It’s the zombie circle of life I guess.
So really that’s it for my contribution this year to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project. I want to write a little bit about my thinking behind this particular series of drawings on the interior cover and I have to create a title on the cover. Otherwise, however, I have completed the project. All that will then remain to do will be to mail off my sketchbook so it can join the collection at the Brooklyn Art Library. Like my sketchbook last year, it will then be digitized so that people can view my sketchbook online as well as seeing it in real life either at the library or on a tour.
Thank you for following along with my horde of zombie drawings. I have appreciated all of the feedback and encouragement along the way.
After breaking through my creative block with the previous drawing, this zombie appeared on the page with much less angst. I didn’t get inside my own head at all and just let my hand get to work producing the angles and lines. My 11 year old thinks he looks more vampiric than zombified but that’s OK. Cross-pollination between monster designs is acceptable to me. Having given him such a long, angular face, it seemed appropriate to give him angular hair. As such, this zombie has a quiff. You can keep looking dapper even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
PS Yes, that is a jaw bone being used as a paperweight. My kids bring bones into the house that end up on my bookshelves.
You may have noticed that I have been slacking off with my zombie sketchbook project. The biggest factor has been life just becoming an overwhelming cluster of hectic activity and scheduling chaos with an extra smattering of exhaustion. However, I have also had some creative issues with bringing this project to its conclusion. Firstly, I think I had tapped out on my creative mojo in October by having Drawlloween on the go at the same time as still churning out zombie illustrations. Daily drawing apparently takes a lot out of me. Secondly, with only three pages left in my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook, I felt creatively crippled. It was as if I could not permit myself the opportunity to make mistakes, to risk drawing anything other than my absolute best efforts and – given the lack of free time and the drawing fatigue – it was a real concern that I would produce something subpar by my own standards.
Essentially, I was completely and utterly stuck inside my head space.
The way I battered my way out of the creative block and fear of failure mindset was just to force myself to put pen to paper. I drew an upside down raindrop shape on the page in pencil and forced myself to start drawing in shapes with my micron pens, just letting the zombie appear on the page without me second guessing myself, putting down ink lines without hesitation. What emerged was this zombie with fluffy hair and an underbite. She’s not my best effort but she’s better than I feared. Hopefully I can get the final two drawings done now without further creative blocks.
Having drawn a zombie with prominent hands on the opposite page, I wanted to draw a zombie where the hands were a dominant feature. Balance and symmetry. What emerged on the page was this zombie with his hands flailing in front of his face. You might have spotted that one of his fingers is missing its tip.
Now that Drawlloween is over, I can focus my creative energy on completing my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook submission for this year. I am so close to being finished and it would be great to be done before Thanksgiving. I had absolutely no goal in mind when I started drawing this zombie. However, once she was done, I thought that the position of her hands against her face made her look somehow coy. Maybe that is a trap she is setting for her prey. Lure them in and snap!
The final prompt for Drawlloween – falling yesterday on Halloween – was “Frankenstein”. I cheated, however, and completed this one in advance since I knew my Halloween would be manic.
Since the final three prompts were a celebration of the bicentenary of the publication of the novel, I interpreted the final prompt as being a reference to the text and not to the character of Victor Frankenstein. I, therefore, had complete liberty to illustrate any element of the text but I felt compelled to draw the Creature. Although he is not the protagonist, he is arguably the central character of the novel, the locus of so many of its themes and motifs, and the source of so much of its soul. I swithered about developing my own character but, you know me and how I love to draw movie monsters, so I quickly abandoned that idea and instead drew a version of Boris Karloff’s presentation of the Monster.
So that’s Drawlloween over for this year and I successfully completed the challenge. I managed to produce a drawing every single day of October, even on the days when I was swamped and free time was difficult to find. I think it is obvious which illustrations I spent more time on and which were dashed off but regardless of the outcome I did complete the challenge not only of daily drawing but of working at a larger scale than usual for such challenges and of adding colour. I won’t fib: I am quite relieved it is over and that the pressure to create every day is gone but I am very glad I participated completely and fully because I got a lot out of it creatively and in terms of a sense of accomplishment.
Thanks for following along with me this Drawlloween!
I draw the Bride of Frankenstein frequently. She is one of my favourite movie characters to draw because she is so iconic and so sculptural. Her character design and costuming suits my style of drawing too I think. I very briefly swithered about developing my own character design but, of course, ended up drawing the Elsa Lanchester presentation from the 1935 movie. I usually draw her as the full figure and often in portrait or three-quarter portrait. Therefore, I decided to draw her front on and with a focus just on her head, upper torso, arms, and that amazing hair. I am still not bored of drawing the Bride of Frankenstein.