Saturday, December 26, 2009

Terrible Yellow Eyes

My 'Where the Wild Things Are' tribute piece can now be seen on Cory Godbey's Terrible Yellow Eyes site. If you haven't already, I encourage you to check out this collection of amazing artists from around the globe. Cory has posted that he's made the decision to close the project with a final post, Friday, January 1, 2010, but the work will remain online as a tribute to Maurice Sendak's book that we all love so much.

Visit the Terrible Yellow Eyes blog to see all the contributions.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Illustration Friday: Undone

I've been meaning to post about my painting process, and seeings how this week's IF topic is 'undone', I thought I would post the 'undone' to the done stages of my recent 'Not to Be Trusted' piece for the Thumb Box Exhibition.

I wanted to paint with acrylics on wood, which is something I haven't done since the Holocaust Star Project. Blick didn't have the 6" x 6" size I needed for this small works show, so I bought 6" x 12" craft wood, and since Home depot said it was too small for them to cut without damaging the wood, I bought a Kobalt Fine Tooth Laminate Saw to cut the boards in half, and then sanded. I've always loved woodworking, so this was fun. :)

I gave the wood boards an acrylic base coat stain, and then transferred the 2 drawings I had completed. I could submit 3 pieces, but I only had 2 weeks, so I wasn't sure if I'd get that 3rd board, but prepped it with a blue stain just in case. (I'll post the outcome of that one later.)

I used a Pablo Caran d'Ache sepia-toned pencil to go over my drawing and add some shading. My goal was to maintain some of my linework in the final piece. (Before this step I had I scanned the drawing and the actual wood surface into the computer to work out my color plan in photoshop.)

I then started painting with my new favorite paints, the Atelier Interactive Acrylics, which enable you to re-wet them for blending, but you can also 'cure' the bottom layers with a hair dryer to glaze on top. They gave me the ultimate in flexibility. I also worked with stiffer brushes than the sables I'm used to. I liked the look of the illustration with the wood background showing, and contemplated leaving it like this. I wish I could have hit the 'duplicate' button to end up with 2 painting versions.

''Not to Be Trusted' acrylic on wood

After I had the background, and most of the rest painted, I had to scan it back into the computer to rethink her dress color. My original plan was to make it an emerald green, but that started to feel wrong. Testing out some colors in photoshop took the guesswork out. To 'cure' the painting I used a hairdryer over all of it. Some of the whites darken when they dry.

I was able to help hang the show, which was a good learning experience. The night of the opening I was surprised to find that she already sold. I was excited, but also just a touch sad as we didn't have much time together. I took lot of photos and scans, and I'll be offering a print soon.

This week I'll hit my 4th year Blog Anniversary!!! It's been quite an artistic journey, and it makes it all the better to be able to share it here with such a great art community. At first I was just so excited to meet fellow artists online, but this year I've been able start meeting some of you in person at the SCBWI conferences, and local artists here in Columbus, and it's been so inspiring.

I want to send everyone warm wishes for a very Happy Winter Solstice! I love this day as it means the days will start to become longer. I hope everyone has a safe merry holiday season!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Illustration Friday: Hatch

This sketch still needs work, but I wanted to post it for Illustration Friday because this week's topic, 'hatch' helped me figure out what I wanted to do with this drawing. I started the sketch below several months ago, and I had a distinct color scheme in mind that I'm quite excited about, and I knew I wanted to paint it on wood. I had to set it aside to work on my children's portfolio for the conference, and then an opportunity came along to do some small 6" x 6" paintings. I ended up feeling like the new work is more me. The girl below doesn't feel like it has enough of the style I'm going for. Sometimes it's only when you distance yourself through time that you can begin to see these things more clearly. I still liked some of the concept, so I reworked it into the above sketch.


Working digitally has given me more respect for the sketch phase. I'm now finding ways to be more patient and careful about my technique to keep some of that linework in my traditional painting. before I pick up a brush I need to make a plan for the value and how to create depth in the trees. I have a wood plaque designated for this, and I'll be using the Interactive Atelier Acrylics again. I'll be posting more on the new painting process soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Indiana SCBWI Picture Book Conference

I'm still behind on things I want to share and chronicle here on the blog. There's been so many good art things going on lately. I want to finish a drawing tonight, but before I do I want to share some of my notes from the Indiana SCBWI Picture Book Conference I attended last month. I was most excited about this conference because the focus was all on Picture Books. (Their MG and YA conference will be in Spring 2010.) These conferences are like graduate school for anyone looking to seriously enter the children's book market.

I arrived the night before for the Open Mic at the hotel to hear attendees read the beginnings of their manuscripts. Since I'm still trying to jump start my writing brain these are always helpful. Then afterwards, we laid out our illustration portfolios for a critique. I was excited to meet fellow CCAD grad, and amazing illustrator, Kristi Valiant, who had printed out critique cards with check marks for the necessary criteria, and what the strongest and weakest pieces were. This last question was one of the most helpful. Then, it was off to sleep before an early morning, and I realized that this was my first solo stay at a hotel. After cramming 5 of us in the smallest hotel room I'd ever seen in my life back in San Diego, I felt like quite a princess in my nicely sized room. :)

The conference was at The Saturday Evening Post. Somehow, it hadn't dawned on me where we were until I saw the sign. I didn't realize this famed publication was located in Indiana.

The halls were lined with all the familiar covers.

Actual real life original Norman Rockwell paintings also hung throughout the building. Real canvas texture!

Courtney Bongiolatti, Associate Editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers was our first speaker. She spoke about what an editor looks for in a Picture Book.
In her terms, she's looking for:
1. Uniqueity -Make what's existing unique. Unique a trend. Unique a format.
2. Readability - Does it read well out loud?
3. Realatability
4. Schoolability - Is it relevant to the school market?

Laurent Linn, Art Director for Simon & Schuster for Young Readers spoke to us about the Anatomy of a Picture Book, and their basic structure. He explained that rather than think about the art as separate illustrations, a PB should be thought of as one illustration over 32 pages. Fun Fact: a press sheet is called a 'signature' because back in the day it needed a signature 'sign off' approval.


Laurant also conducted a workshop explaining, through examples, what makes appropriate art to send as samples to publishers. Portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and figure drawings may be beautiful art, but they are not appropriate portfolio samples. A Renoir portrait is great for frame, but doesn't tell enough of a story in the way Tenniel's 'Alice in Wonderland' illustrations do. As illustrators we are costume designers. Dress your characters to show each individual personality. Posture shows character. Think in camera angles. The city, a landscape, or a single tree can be a character. Use light and shadow to show mood.

Illustrators, Kristi Valiant and Sharon Vargo also gave a talk on the Illustrators Perspective. A portfolio should demostrate that you can master a range of emotions. In writing for picture books, anything that you can show in the illustration gets chopped out of the story. SCBWI has a list of mostly current publishers at each house to send art samples to.


All in all it was an excellent conference, and just what I needed to get focused again after my move. Kristi was kind enough to sign her latest trade book for me, 'Cora Cooks Pancit'. I love how she's perfected a digital style that looks so beautifully traditional, and the story about a Filipino girl who wants to help cook with the grown-ups is wonderful and relatable. Check out an interview with Kristi about her book on Elizabeth O. Dulebra's site.

Now, to the lightbox to work on my drawing before my eyelids no longer stay open....

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Blooming Blogs that Inspire Award :)

A few months ago, I received this beautifully designed award from Deborah Mori on her wonderful blog, Life Without Novocaine. I was so honored to be included in her list of uber-talented fellow bloggers, who have all inspired me as well. I've been wanted to pass it along, but these last few months have been crazy busy (in a good way).

I love the idea of this award; to take a moment to acknowledge how we all inspire each other. Being able to share my creative sparks, along with the dreaded creative blocks with everyone has enriched my life more that I can say. Moving to Ohio this year was a huge change for me, but knowing this supportive art community was still here was very comforting.

I pass this award to everyone in my blogroll, and all of those who I haven't gotten around to adding yet, but who I love to visit. (My Bloglines currently has 266 feeds that I'm following.)

I want to make one special mention of a blogger, the lovely Miss Linda Silvestri, who always inspires me with her humor, and who is amazing me this month by posting the most clever holiday advent calendar of her illustrations, which 'open' to reveal fun surprises! Anyone who has tried posting everyday knows what a challenge it is.

Check out Linda Silvestri's Sketched Out Blog. Here's Day 1 of her Advent Calendar.

The rules upon accepting this award:
1.) Only one rule. Pass this award along to someone who motivated you, inspired you or enriched your artistic life with their creative gift. If you feel so inclined, you can create a short list of the things you love, your favorite muse, or your favorite childhood memories. The most important thing though is to award someone who has made your life better.

Friday, December 04, 2009

OAL Thumb Box Exhibition- All Sold! :)

acrylic on wood (6" x 6" each)

I was at the Tiny Canary handmade arts & crafts show a couple weeks ago at the very cool Junctionview Studios artists' space, and met awesome fellow CCAD grad, Amy Atwell, who told me about a small works show with the Ohio Art League. I was excited about this prospect since it's been a goal of mine to get some art up on a gallery wall somewhere for quite some time. So, I was determined to get at least one piece done, but managed the max of 3, in 2 just weeks. It helped that I had some sketches already started that worked for this size. I ended up sick with a cold, as if it wasn't enough of a challenge, and I had to finish the one at my parents' home over Thanksgiving.

These are painted on wood panels with Atelier Interactive Acrylics which enable you to re-wet them for blending, but you can also 'cure' the bottom layers with a hair dryer to glaze on top. I had more fun creating these then any artwork I've ever done. I loooovvvved working on the wood, but I also want to try these paints on paper.

Tuesday I attended the OAL 'Art of Hanging' Workshop where we learned how to group and hang multiple works for this gallery show. Amy and I are very proud of 'our wall' we put together, and it was fun, and I learned a lot. After a few hours, hundreds of the submitted (6" x 6" or smaller) works were up.

Last night was the Opening Reception of the Thumb Box Exhibition, and I saw that all 3 of my paintings already sold!!! This is my first gallery showing, so I'm very excited. :)

I'll be sharing some progress pics of each soon, and once I color correct my scans I'll be offering up prints. I'll also be blogging about the Picture Book Conference I attended last month. There's been so much going on that I've been getting behind here on the blog.