I recently finished reading the 2022 reprint of Hayao Miyazaki's brilliantly illustrated story, Shuna's Journey. I have a copy of the 1983 original which I purchased and read years ago so I thought it'd be interesting to do a comparison.
The first thing to note is the size different between the original and the reprint. The original is a pocket-sized book, about 6" X 4.25" and the reprint is larger at 8.75" X 6.25". I enjoy the size of the 1983 original, but that's a personal preference.
For the text, I enjoyed being able to read the translation because I don't read or speak Japanese. The placement and color of the text matches the original pretty closely. When I got the original version years ago, I found an online translation and read the book alongside that--not the best way to enjoy a manga/illustrated book.
The reprint still has the right to left format, which I was happy to see and it also contains an insightful note from the translator, Alex Dudok De Wit (son of the director of The Red Turtle (2016), Michael Dudok De Wit).
As I was reading the reprint, I was really distracted by the feeling that the artwork was really lacking. So after I finished reading it, I pulled out the original and noticed some major differences. The reprint is very bleached out and as a watercolor painter myself, I was really disappointed; the reprint almost looks monochromatic compared to the original (see below). Now, it may be the case that the original artwork has faded over time and the reprint is showing how the paintings look today; watercolor can fade over years of light exposure, but it's impossible to tell without seeing the original paintings.
Overall, I'm glad that this translated reprint was published and I hope some more of Miyazaki's work gets translated. I'd love to read a translation of Miyazaki's watercolor manga, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu).. Or maybe I should start studying Japanese..
"Hold Still!" is often a common phrase that you'll hear from artists. Certainly for painting and drawing you need stillness, right? I'm not so sure about that. For me, when I'm sketching, drawing or painting I enjoy some degree of movement. Sometimes the movement is subtle, like the small movements of a knitter's hands, and sometimes the movement is expansive, like a cat jumping onto an ottoman.
I think it's this movement that makes a work come alive. But how to capture it? For me, it's entirely about observation and quickness. Thinking is your enemy with this sort of work. You have to let your hand move freely and not worry about the results. Many of my sketches just come out as squiggles and trailing lines. Many of them are simply silhouettes of the subject. Nothing more than lines and shapes. However, I really believe this is the foundation of great art. Check out what Delacroix has to say about it ⬇below⬇.
During the summer, I became friendly with another student in the MA program. She admired my sketches and asked about them. I suggested that we sketch outside together and talk about it. We found a spot near the school where some construction workers were working on replacing bricks on a building. The workers were moving all about, moving up and down the scaffolding and ladders. Perfect! So we sat there and just drew these guys as they worked. Whether or not our sketches were good didn't matter. We had fun and created a memory. And my main takeaway was to silence the voice inside me that says, "This has to be perfect."
I don't have much advice in terms of technique, but I would encourage everyone to sketch from life. And for me, it helps to not judge my sketches. Some of them turn out well, but most of mine are not meant to be judged as works of art. So please be kind to yourselves also.
“If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man falling out of a window during the time it takes him to get from the fifth story to the ground then you will never be able to produce monumental work…Before you begin, study unceasingly, but once started…you must execute freely.” - Eugène Delacroix