So I’ve been thinking lately about passion and drive to create. Everyone has that little bit of something that pushes them to create. Visual artists have it, performing artists have it, and even non-fine art fields have it! My husband is a computer programmer and he has passions that drive him to work on projects inside and outside computer coding.
That passion, that little umph, makes us unique. But coming to a full understanding of what that is, isn’t always easy, huh? Life, other opinions, and misunderstanding of self often clouds our ability to hear our individual voices. For me, that’s a journey I’ve been on for years, and a path that I’ve struggled through for a very long time. When I was younger, I was carefree like all of us were creatively. Unafraid to try new things, to incorporate whatever I was obsessed with at that time. Yu-Gi-Oh, Princess Mononoke, Gundam Wing, Phantom of the Opera… whatever it was, it showed in my drawings. And as I drew and drew and drew, I developed my own voice.
Then I became an adult.
From 19 to 23, something happened. I’d lost my voice, lost that spark of passion that drove me to fill a sketchbook a month. I became lethargic in my creativity, and my desire to make anything fell so low that I stopped putting any care into it. The only thing I still cared about was creating work for other people. In my lack of a voice, I desperately wanted to give others their voices. Because I knew what it felt like to be so beaten, so helpless in your own mind, I vowed to be a tool to lift up others and give to them what I had lost.
I found a passion in that. A passion to give to others. I, like so many of us, know and understand how painful, how horrible the world can be. Through my personal work and the work I do for others, I want to show that there’s still goodness and light. I strive to show hope and rest in my artwork, to show that no matter what, we can still dream.
What IS the importance of a sketchbook? What, of all the bound together pieces of paper, makes a sketchbook so special?
So I’ve been a very bad artist… I haven’t kept a consistent sketchbook since before college, and I graduated almost 2 years ago. Once upon a time, I not only kept a sketchbook, I’d have it completely filled in a month! It was so intense, the local Mart down the street from my parents (it sold my favorite sketchbook) knew me by name purely because I came in to buy that often.
Now, I struggle to fill a sketchbook in 6 months.
I started one at the beginning of the year. I was so excited for it. I was diligent for a while, but it didn’t take me long to drop off and stop regular sketching. Now that sketchbook is lost somewhere in my office, with the “1/17-” on the cover taunting me.
Reminding me how I failed.
And in a way, that’s the root. I struggle with failure. Not in a, “I’m constantly failing” way. But I constantly feel like a failure. I’m 26, graduated college 4 years after the majority of my peers, and now I’m doing my best to keep my head above water and make this Illustration thing work.
Do I think, ultimately, it will work? Oh, yes. And so does my husband.
But at this moment, struggling with the feeling of failure, it’s difficult to remember how far I’ve come since my days as a teen, filling up a sketchbook a month.
Never sharing it with the world.
It’s hard to remember how far you’ve come when you’re so intimidated by how far you have to go. The road is dark, long, and in many ways it’s something you walk on your own.
But even that notion. Is it true? Am I doing this completely on my own? No, I’m not. I have my husband. I have my friends. And I have my colleagues. And I have those who are taking the same path I am. They’re there too, walking alongside me. Some are farther down the path, and they are encouraging to me. I’m farther down the path from others, and I have the opportunity to encourage them. The comradery reminds us that we’re not alone on this journey.
And what of my sketchbook? It’s a journal of my ideas. A snapshot into my mind, of my creativity and my thoughts. It’s a map to help me navigate the path. Helping me sort which direction I need to go.
As I process through all this insanity that I keep thinking, I come back to the importance of a consistent sketchbook. A single book to hold your ideas, or perhaps 2 sketchbooks you keep together to process ideas side-by-side. Any way your mind processes information, one thing is sure: keeping any form of physical journal is important to your travels as a creative person navigating the world.
You know what’s been driving me nuts recently? Paper surfaces!!
So I’ve been a pencil and ink kind of gal for most of my life. Until college, I rarely explored oil and acrylics, and when I worked with color, it was more of an achromatic with a focal color, or just a limited pallette to whatever markers I had at my disposal. For the most part, I worked in my sketchbook or on cardstock. Sometimes I would venture into Bristol, but very rarely. But now I’ve experienced oil painting, acrylic painting, explored watercolors and fell in love with them.
There’s such a focus on the medium, that the surface is rarely addressed.
I watch a lot of YouTube. A bit because I work from home most days and have no life. But mostly because I enjoy listening to creators I admire while I work. And YouTube illustrators often list their tools. The pencils they use, the brushes they use, the paints they have, and the markers they love.
But rarely the paper.
Now I’m not one for consistency. It’s a serious problem I have and my loved ones are gracious with me. And when in school, I was never consistent with how I approached the assignments. I used everything from markers to oils to digital. For each assignment, I did something new and different.
And here’s the thing: it’s okay that I did that. It’s okay that I STILL do that. Because although how I approach an illustration is always different, my finished product is consistent. And ultimately, that’s what matters.
And at any stage in a creative field, you should be learning and growing. My inconsistency is a fault of mine, but it’s also a strength. I’m constantly trying new and different things. I come back to what I love – pen and pencil – but I’m never going to shy away from new techniques and new ways f approaching problems. I’m not a consistent person, but I work through where that lies as a fault and embrace where that is a strength.
I still haven’t found a type of paper that I enjoy working with. I hope I’ll find some soon. But with each type of paper I try or recommendation that I explore, one thing stays true: never stop learning.
One thing that is interesting about Princess Tutu is the attention to detail. I mentioned this before in Part One: the dances in Tutu are choreographed and can actually be danced (Aside from the Flower Waltz powers). The characters are very lean and cartoon-like, but they still move in a believable fashion. In addition, dancers themselves often are more lean and long-legged, and the animation style seems to have embraced that. An advantage this creates is the lines of the characters mimic the lines of a real dancer. And since Ballet has a strong emphasis on line, power, and grace, it fits perfectly.
Unique to Princess Tutu is the use of Western fairytale themes. Ballets are generally based upon fairytales or legends. Although originating in Italy during the Renaissance, Ballet developed into what we know today thanks to Russia and France. Because of this very Western origin, classical Ballets have their roots in European legends and folktales. A wonderful example of this, and one of the primary themes in Princess Tutu, is Swan Lake.
Swan Lake, Princess Tutu, And Princess Kraehe: The White Swan and The Black Swan
Although the origins of Swan Lake are still disputed, it became a Ballet with help of composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in the mid 1870s. Nowadays, it is the quintessential Ballet and one of the two most well-known, alongside The Nutcracker, which is also composed by Tchaikovsky.
In Swan Lake, There is a Swan Princess named Odette. The prince, Siegfried, meets her in the first act and they fall madly in love. She is cursed to be a swan, except during moonlight hours, and the only way to break this curse is through the love and devotion of marriage.
This is the inspiration for the heroine princess, Princess Tutu.
Siegfried, pledged to marry Odette, attends a feast. A beautiful woman, clad in black, arrives. She has a striking resemblance to his beloved Odette, but she is another woman named Odile (in productions of Swan Lake, Odette and Odile are played by the same ballerina) He dances with her and announces that he will marry this woman. Arrangements are made, and only after does he realize the mistake he has made.
Odile is the inspiration for the tragic princess, Princess Kraehe.
Both their costumes and their personalities are (loosely) modeled after Odette and Odile. The most obvious being that Princess Tutu is clad in white and Princess Kraehe is clad in black. Their stories share threads with their Swan Lake counterparts, but take unique twists and turns that help develop these two into unique and special characters.
What was your impression with the style of Princess Tutu?
How do you feel about the inspiration for Kraehe and Tutu?
There’s an anime in the world that is so incredible, so precious, yet so under-appreciated.
The First Impressions of Tutu
I have a confession to make, although it’s not a surprise to many: I love ballet. I’ve been dancing for 20 years, and 12 of those years have been Ballet. I’ve danced En Pointe for 10 years, and because of my schedule I haven’t been able to find a pointe class recently and I miss it terribly. People often view Ballet as a “frilly” thing, mocking men and boys who dance and reject the notion that Ballet is a sport (technically, it isn’t a sport, it’s an art. But anyone who’s gone through an hour and a half class knows it’s as rigorous as a sport!)
This is where I find Princess Tutu: an amazing work of art that people ignore because they assume it’s ridiculous. And to be perfectly honest, I thought it was pretty dumb when I first heard of it. After all, this is a Japanese animation — an Eastern animation — depicting Ballet — a Western art. What could possibly go right with this scenario?
The answer: everything.
Princess Tutu seems to be nothing more than a “magical girl with dancing,” but that is far from the truth. The story of Princess Tutu is dark, full of hope, and still brings me to tears (and I’ve seen the entire 26-episode series at least five times).
Ballet stories in Princess Tutu
There’s a book called 101 Stories of the Great Ballets By George Balanchine and Francis Mason. As the name suggests, it is a storybook of 101 different ballets. Everything from Swan Lake to Le Corsaire, and from Coppelia to Giselle. These stories are the backbone of Princess Tutu.
Princess Tutu has, essentially, three layers of stories. There is the story of Princess Tutu itself: the story of a young duck who wants nothing more than to see the prince she loves smile, and through that one wish becomes a storybook Princess who is searching for the Prince’s shattered heart.
And from there, it breaks down into ballet themes and influences. There are two major overarching stories that influence the plot of the series itself. Those are the two famous Tchaikovsky Ballets, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. In fact, Princess Tutu herself is directly inspired by the White Swan, Odette, in Swan Lake.
The third layer of storytelling is similar to the overarching themes. Each episode has a “ballet” associated with it. The plot of the episode often derives themes from the ballet in question, and most of the music is a re-orchestration of the music from the Ballet. For example, in the Ballet Coppelia, there is a sequence where the girl Swanhilde pretends to be a doll and dances. In Princess Tutu, a character dances this dance while the Coppelia Doll Variation music is playing.
The Dancing and Music of Princess Tutu
The dancing of Princess Tutu is very well done. They paid attention to subtle details of ballet itself, and animated only the necessities. Each of the different lifts and movements done in the anime are real, and someone could take the choreography from Princess Tutu and dance it. Although dancing a swordfight is impractical, it is done in real Ballets (I just wouldn’t suggest trying it off the stage).
Contrary to popular depictions, pointe shoes are hard at the toe and are comprised of layers of glue and satin. Princess Tutu animators did an excellent job showing the substance of a pointe shoe. They even laced the pointe shoes correctly, as opposed to the “Deedee” from Dexter’s Lab way of lacing them.
(It is to note that the pink shoes in the anime gif aren’t pointe shoes, they are the soft ballet slippers)
As noted above, the music from Princess Tutu is mostly re-orchestrated Ballet music. It fits with the themes and tone of the anime, and adds yet another layer onto the already complex Ballet themes of Tutu. They often paired the variation (solo part of a ballet) with the appropriate music, which adds a richness to the dancing.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m quite biased with Princess Tutu. It’s perhaps my favorite anime, and most definitely one of my favorite stories.
What do you think of the overall story?
What was your first impression with the main character being a duck?
After quite a week of snow, rain, and warm weather, life is finally getting back to normal here in the Busko household.
During the snow on Saturday, Ian and I went for a walk around the city. The snow was still coming down hard, and for a good while I was afraid my camera was going to freeze. (It didn’t freeze 😉 ) It was beautiful, but so cold. We ended up getting quite a lot of snow!
This past weekend we had the opportunity to go on a retreat, and that was a very good time. The snow was deep there, enough that I tripped and fell face-first into it! But all-in-all, it’s been a good week.
Hello, all! This post is a bit different than my others, where I touch on aspects of the art of different films or artist’s lives. I’ll still be doing them, of course, but as January comes to a close, there’s a lot in store for the rest of 2016.
First off, I’ll be graduating from college in May, and I’ll be devoting more time to a project I’ve been working on with Janeen Ippolito. It’s still under wraps, but will soon will be unveiled!
And on that note, I’ve been working with Janeen for a number of years on a book she’s writing. We’ve built the world together, and while she’s been writing it, I’ve been illustrating it. It’s been quite a number of years in the making, but we’re finally close to getting it published.
Winter has finally hit here in PA, and last time I saw the snow was up to my husband’s knees. I’m not the type of person who enjoys the snow normally, but it’s been nice to look out and see it falling down! And since I’m safe and warm in my apartment, it’s a great opportunity to get work done!