Pencil Logo drawing

Great Gatsby Logo Sketch

I’ve got a lot of jumbled thoughts about my Great Gatsby illustrated project that I’ve been working on for over a year. I have a lot of illustrations done for it plus the basic design of the book but still no cover. I was stuck at that point for a lot of the first two months of 2023 but then I worked up some more ideas and got going again. These past few weeks I worked up even more ideas and it’s going to take me a while to figure them all out.

Despite not having a cover yet I decided to work on a logo for the book. Usually I, like almost everybody else these days, would make the logo digitally in one of the graphic design programs. But this time I decided to hand draw a logo or at least hand draw a logo sketch. So that’s what I did. I drew some sketches and eventually came up with one I liked.

That’s when I decided to go digital with it to finish the logo. I scanned in the sketch and used Adobe Illustrator to redraw the logo. I got three letters in and hated it. As often happens with art I lost the energy of the pencil sketch when trying to make a finished piece of it. Sometimes it’s that a pencil sketch is more energetic in general with all its searching lines but often it’s that the idea for the logo just wasn’t that good to begin with. I haven’t given up on it totally but I have to work it out.

The next thing I got done was a few drawings for interior illustrations. I changed up the style on them quite a bit from what I had already done and it led me to some new ideas and images. I have a “Gatsby in the pool” one, an almost abstract cheering figure, two women on pillars, and three drawings of wine glasses with geometric shapes that seem to remind people of stained glass.

Though I got quite a few of these drawn and some even inked I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to color them. I colored a couple of the wine glass ones in Illustrator but the end result didn’t thrill me. They were just okay.

Gatsby Ink #1 Painting

Photo of Gatsby Painting

Today I was looking at an art supply website that had some markers on sale. I was trying to figure out if I should buy some of these to add to my collection of markers when I decided to check out what else was on sale. I saw that they had some stretched canvas on sale and an idea struck me. I am going to buy some of the 24×36 inch canvases and paint the wine glass images on them. That is going to be my painting project for the summer. I can picture how I’m going to do them and that’s always a good thing. Now I just have to order the canvases.

Another Gatsby thing I got going this week is a bunch of little thumbnails for spot illustrations. For those who don’t know a spot illustration is a small and simple illustration. It takes up only a small portion of the page and is usually nested in the text.

The thumbnail drawings I did for this are really small. Keeping the drawings small and drawing them with ink means that I’m just working on ideas and not getting caught up in making them “Good Drawings.” That’s always the danger when trying to crank out ideas. You can get caught up in trying to make the idea into something look like a good drawing instead of quickly moving on to the next idea and worrying about making it a good drawing when you settle on what you actually want to draw.

Tiny little ink drawings

Gatsby Thumbnail Sketches

These thumbnails were even smaller than my usual thumbnails. In my inkbook, which is 5.5×8 inches, I usually draw nine small drawings on a page. In my Gatsby sketchbook, which is 5×7 inches, I drew about 25 drawings on a page. They are really small but that forced me to think about a simple image. I filled up three pages with drawings and I think I ended up with about ten little drawings that I can turn into spot illustrations.

Last month I wrote a piece about getting started on Gatsby illustrations again using a Surrealist automatic drawing method. I got a few pieces done in that style but even those I have yet to figure out how to color and finish. That seems my main roadblock at this time. At the beginning of the year I bought a bunch of new watercolors but I’ve only played around with them. I haven’t made any finished paintings with them yet. Being that watercolor has never been one of my main mediums I’ve never really had a finished watercolor style anyway. Maybe it’s about time I developed one.

One Gatsby thing I’ve wanted to do since last year is a lot of portraits. At one point in the book the narrator, Nick Caraway, goes over a list of names of some of the people who showed up to Gatsby’s parties. Since I draw a lot of faces, especially cartoon art cards, I thought it would be a cool idea to draw small portraits of all the guests. They could be wacky and weird faces as I like to draw.

The main problem with this idea is that there are about seventy five names on the list. That’s a lot of faces to draw. It’s not that I think I can’t do it but it’s that I have so many other ideas I want to get done first. Like all the stuff I’ve mentioned here. I even tried to leverage my cartoon art card faces by using them as underdrawings for the new faces but I haven’t gotten any of them done yet.

That’s a pretty long list of Gatsby stuff I have under way. It’ll probably take me months to get it all done. But that beats having no ideas. That wasn’t fun.