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  • Writer's pictureMadeleine Allcock

Re-using personal work and daily sketches

This set of illustrations is based on a daily drawing from an October art challenge I participated in with Discord.

Each day had a set prompt, and this one was “blue”. I had fun sketching these figures and using monotone colours to show women swimming in the ocean, and focused more on personal expression than a final piece, partially due to the time restraints and other work I needed to focus on.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I knew I wanted to reuse part of the drawing in a more conceptual and finished illustration. I experimented with a few ideas; the pre-drawn figure allowed for speed of execution. Although my characters often look spontaneous, it can take a while to get them right!

For the piece on the left, I wanted to add some fish, and was able to reuse a doodle of some koi carp I made over the summer. That led to inspiration for a massive fish in a second illustration. No sketch is ever wasted – you add more to your memory bank or imagination each time, and next time you have a particular subject you need to draw, you might already have a starting point!

By mid-morning, I completed a set of five pieces. I felt the swimming pool with the wavy grid was an interesting idea, but the weakest of the set, while the night sky version without a fish looked too literal. I showed it to my partner who remarked that it looked like she'd jumped off the international space station – definitely not the look I was going for!

The drawback with this approach of re-using the same figure is that they look very similar, so without modifications or redrawing the character, I can only choose one of these illustrations as a final piece. Also, it may seem obvious, but you should not use this technique if you have previously used the figure in another finished piece, especially if it is/was for client work! However, the advantages of speed and testing out many compositions makes it worth doing to explore different options – I can always replace the figure later on.

I don't have a clear favourite, and I think it would depend on the editorial piece that accompanies it. While they all represent exploring consciousness through the metaphor of swimming, they do so in different ways.

For example, the woman swimming inside a fish shape in the universe is dreamlike, and could symbolise an affinity for an animal or being part of something bigger than oneself.

This illustration is more literal and fun, and could represent wild swimming or connecting with nature.

Finally, the large expanse of blue makes the viewer feel small or alone, contemplating the 'shadow side' of one's personality and the potential for personal growth.

I decided to upload all three to my instagram account and ask my followers to choose their favourite, or to point out one that resonated with them more than the others.

Next time you need some inspiration for a project, try revisiting a piece that didn't quite go the way you planned, and see if you can do something else with it!

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