Another couple of pages

I’ve done 2 more pages on this Fiordland tramping comic and I’m happy with how it’s going! The 4th page is my favourite so far because it finally takes place outside and I like drawing those scenes the best. Here’s a photo of the basin the helicopter dropped us in – I found it after finishing the page so apparently I remember that day being a lot sunnier than it really was.

A nice tussocky basin somewhere between Mt Irene and Lake Mackinnon. There were a lot of flowers in bloom so it was a bit magical.

It looks easy to walk across but you’d be surprised how uneven and potholey it is. Also, everything is spiny and the rocks are extremely course!

In other news, this morning I had a proper serious look at the Antarctic New Zealand arts fellowships and made a list of things I need to do in order to be able to put together a proper serious application.

And here’s the comic!

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Practice Expedition #1

I need to practice drawing the kinds of comics that I want to be able to draw, so I’ve dug out my old tramping diaries and I’m using them for material. They’re pretty good for this, cos I did write a lot of fairly detailed stuff that often didn’t have much to do with the actual route, which is easier to remember. Although I kept it fairly brief when writing by torchlight in a wet tent after a 13 hour day and then went on and on and on when we were having a pit day in a nice warm hut. The problem with drawing from text alone is that I’m relying a lot on my memory of how stuff looked – ideally I’d be drawing these comics in near enough to realtime. Keeping that in mind I’ve tried to be fairly quick about it all so they’re pretty rough. But! This is the point of this particular comic – to get heaps better. I haven’t really made comics in watercolour and ink before, so there are some basics I need to sort out. Also, because I’m so used to digital now I have to be okay with not having an undo button. It is quite freeing! By the way I am tremendously enjoying this obscenely expensive sketchbook I bought a couple of weeks ago. I can use both sides of the page and rub out pencil over and over again without making grubby holes.

Old Trusty the waterproof notebook

Anyway, this is a tramp I did 6 years ago with a good friend (Brian) and a guy I’d never met before (Matt) who must have been all right because I agreed to go bush with him for another week after this (and he is all right – he’s wonderful in fact!)

Things didn’t go quite according to plan so there was a lot of bumbling about before we actually got anywhere.

Just two pages for now – more on the way!

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Expedition comics? What?

I’m Giselle and I like a lot of things – tramping, cooking, crafts, crosswords, collecting junk, gardening, watching nature documentaries…all kinds of stuff! I will admit there is kind of a genre to my interests.

But there are two things I love doing beyond anything else.

The first thing is drawing pictures – I’ll never get sick of drawing pictures! It’s the best! I’m very lucky I get paid to do this as a freelancer. I want to be the best illustrator I can possibly be! I want to illustrate books for children, and I want to make comics too. You can see my work here:

The other thing is going on wild adventures in the remotest parts of New Zealand. I love where I live, but I’m never not pining for the outdoors.

Over the last 10 years I’ve done lots of tramping, but tramping can only get you so far. So I’ve also done a whole bunch of volunteering for the Department of Conservation – I’m more than happy to pay my way in hard labour if I get to visit (what I reckon are) the most amazing places in the entire world. Scrubbing and bleaching used root trainers in the cold and rain for hours at a stretch is fine with me if I’m sharing an island with 40,000 tuatara at the same time.

I’ve thought a lot about becoming a ranger, but I’d never be happy leaving my illustration career behind. But if I don’t prioritise skills that will make me useful on a conservation or scientific expedition (whether paid or not) I’ll never get to experience the parts of New Zealand that I have a fierce and ridiculous yearning to see. More than any other place in the entire world I want to visit our Sub-Antarctic islands, and most ultimately Antarctica.

I’ve travelled overseas a bit, but nowhere gets me excited like New Zealand does. I love mangrove swamps! I love sub-alpine meadows! Glaciers! Raging coastlines! Pebbly bays! Muddy rivers and wild white torrents! Fiords! I even love scree slopes and knee-deep mud. I get excited about our plants and our fungi, and every creature from flax weevils to albatrosses.

So I have thought of a solution. I want to be an expedition artist!

Not like the guys on the Beagle and Endeavour, because I don’t think I’d be very good at that and it wouldn’t get that many likes on Twitter if I tried. Nobody needs me to sketch coastlines and keep a record of plant and animal observations.

What I want to do is share everything that I love about our wild environment in a way that will educate and inform but also just be kind of funny and entertaining and cool. I think comics are a good way to do this. I want to draw comics that are as much about mind-blowing scenery as they are about trying to find a patch of ground soft enough to dig a hole to poop in.

So…err…how do I do this?

Well, I don’t know.

This blog is about me figuring that out.