Wokingham Art Society
Demonstrations by Danny Byrne
Visit him at http://www.danielpaintings.co.uk/.
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Cartoons, 17 June 2014
Danny has been doing cartoons and caricatures since he was 15. He has a wide range of skills (portraits, equestrian and general painting - see his website) - but limited himself to cartoons tonight.

His approach has changed little since his previous visit to Wokingham but the humorous chat made it all seem fresh, even to those who remembered seeing him then.

Danny's demonstrations never give you time really to absorb the dozens of examples of his work he talks about. Thank heavens they are mostly left on the table or floor to be studied durng the coffee break.
He has a good relationship with publishers (of calendars, jigsaws, greeting cards etc.) through his agent. The publisher decides first on the basis of pencil sketches with captions (he thinks up the jokes) and then he produces the final work from which the printing is done.

When he is creating a scene he starts with a loose background, in pencil on hot-pressed paper, and then starts filling in the detail, first in pencil, then in pen and finally in watercolour.

He may have only a faint idea of the finest detail until he sees a gap that needs filling, but he still has to research any technical detail.
Of course, his cartoons are filled with characters drawn in his personal style. He produced a quickfire stream of these. They were nearly all done by penciling a shape of head (any shape - circle, oval, peanut, square, triange, rectangle) adding a sausage for nose, little circles and "click click" for eyes and pupils, and finally a couple of ears. Tiny features on a big head make a baby. Where bodies were added the idea was the same. Basically a small stick or box skeleton to give the attitude he wanted - confrontational, running away looking behind etc.

A black marker pen firms up the features, maybe a caption, and then the sheet joins the growing pile on the floor.
Expression is vital and often relies on exaggeration: raised eyebrows, scowling mouth, repeated lines or clouds of dust for movement. If there is doubt about who or what an outline represents, you can add extra objects that are associated with it.

Captions, too, can make or break a cartoon: like the play on words for the ladies in the golf club lounge, pinkies well out from their cups, entitled "Tee break".

. . . or the giant spider scrubbing itself, water everywhere, and the woman calling to her husband that "There's another spider in the bath!"
In the half-hour after the coffee break Danny did three lightning caricatures of members of the audience - all loudly applauded.

It was interesting that although he used no colour he did pick up a pale grey marker pen to give a little more form to mine. There was general agreement that he had succeeded in getting our salient caracteristics,despite the short time available.

Again, we were given an entertaining and instructive evening. Thank you, Danny.

Sam Dauncey

John Taylor
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Cartoons, 9 Dec 2008
Danny ran quickly through his career to date, literally scattering examples of his work, hints on selling cartoons (e.g. "Give them FREE to papers and magazines until they start asking for more") and a string of almost true stories which got everybody giggling. Calendars, books, greetings cards and jigsaws probably fill enough of his time but he could almost moonlight as a stand-up comic.
He then attacked an A2 (?) sketch pad. I say "attacked" because sheets were being torn off and discarded below the easel before you really had time to see what he had done.
The first phase of any of his cartoons is to start with " Pencil Roughs" - he may do perhaps ten before he is satisfied. For cartoons, you can forget all your worries about proportion and perspective. He starts heads, of people or animals, with a circle (which may be drastically distorted), an oval (ditto) for the nose and two smaller circles with dots in, just above the nose, for the eyes. Try making these features tiny for babies. Ears are then tacked on. The mouth can be almost any mark. Eyebrows, almost as much as the mouth, define emotions. Then into the real thing with ink (black felt pen, here), using the pencil lines only as a very rough guide.

Ear shapes, a healthy black nose(?) and appropriate fur and whiskers are all that you need to make it an animal head instead of a human one.
You don't HAVE to use circles for heads - if you look at the examples above you will see that great liberties have been taken (one group of three, for example, is a pencil, ruler and rubber). You would normally attach very under-sized bodies and limbs to the head with a thin neck. Arms and legs are rough cylinders with hands and feet sticking out.

Each artist will have a style and practice is the only way to find what's best for you. Use large sheets of paper and try all sorts of shapes until you find some that appeal to you.
Don't forget, though, that you should still collect reference material - not just so you have records of what characterises things but also because you can sometimes be criticised for technical mistakes that most people would never notice (like the wrong number of wheels on a recognisable locomotive).
However, it is important, for humour's sake, to exaggerate important characteristics and not to forget the little dashes and speed marks to indicate motion (see the reindeer's hand above).

Danny made it all look so, so easy - as if anyone could do it - but his technical skill came through in the last few minutes when he did a caricature of . . .
. . . well you don't really need telling it's Don Lowey.

A super evening - and Danny even stayed afterwards to enjoy the mulled wine and mince pies etc that made up the second half.

Sam Dauncey

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