Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween from Penguin & Chicken!

I missed sketching penguin and chicken. When I picked up my sketchbook I found my avian friends dressing up as their favorite characters for Halloween. I plan to update this post with these guys colored up.

I also want to officially announce I've been asked to join a wonderful blog group, 'Between the End Pages'! I was so honored to be asked! I'll be posting more quick sketches over there, along with monthly themed illustrations for my portfolio. Please do stop by for a visit, and to also check out the fabulous work of my fellow blogmates, Jill Bergman, Brooke Boynton Hughes, Marsha Riti, and Tina Kugler!

See another penguin and chicken sketch I posted over on Between the End Pages here.

Happy Halloween!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been working on a top secret painting which will be revealed sometime in the next few months. I don't even know exactly when yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do. Hope  you had a fun trick or treat day!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

James and the Giant Peach

James and the insects flung all about inside the peach pit
These page spreads are for the Children's Book Rally contest over on Illustration Rally. The contest asked that we stick to a classic familiar story. I asked my twitter friends for story suggestions and Kim Fleming mentioned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which got me me on the Roald Dahl track, and one of my all-time favorites, 'James and the Giant Peach'. (Kim also posted about the contest on her wonderful new Illustration Station blog that you should check out.)

They encounter sharks & escape by tying silkworm strings to a flock of seagulls
My 5th grade teacher read 'James and the Giant Peach' to us, and I was instantly fascinated by the pure imagination of it all. What's best of all is how the insects all look to James to come up with solutions to the dilemmas they face on their journey, and he ends up finding a family where he belongs, and is loved. What more could you ask for?

Painting insects seemed to make sense seeing how I've been photographing them in my garden all summer. I first encountered a baby grasshopper on the inside of my car windshield. He chewed on me.
He decided to stick around.
Isn't he cute? He's even smizing.
 Then he nibbled on my green pepper plant, which may explain the lack of peppers.

He ended up growing quite large, and protective of that 1 single pepper.

I also hosted another garden guest. For the first time ever  I spotted a praying mantis who stuck around for weeks. If I rustled some leaves his head would turn towards me in the most creepy way, but definitely cool.

With this project I finally had a use for these big reference books I had bought at Half Price Books back in my college days. Back in the time before google searches. I had to face some of my darkest fears though. Sharks give me nightmares, and there are swarms of scary insects in there. Even bugs, ya know, 'doing it'. Oh, my innocent eyes!

Ok, on to the process shots. I used very thin board this time since it would be more practical if I did a book in this technique. Thinner boards are much easier to cut.

The woodgrain on this board was just gorgeous. Check out those waves! This led to me to painting as thin as possible to let the grain show through, which was an extra challenge.

After the base 'stain' I sketched and shaded a bit. Then after several hours and many thin layers we have the finished paintings.


To wrap up, here's my usual sketching location on the couch. I used to only have a tiny table lamp, and found myself leaning over to it, so I found this lamp at Cost Plus which gave me great overhead light. It came with little oval oriental shades which I changed out with some grapevine balls I've had forever, and painted them white. The more natural rustic style feels more 'me'.

I then added rice paper to the inside. Someone told me the lamp looks a bit insect-like. See how this ties into the post now? Full circle