Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Everything! & 6 year blogoversary!

Christmas Eve will mark my 6 year blogoversary! Woohoo! (insert flaying Kermit arms) This year has been filled with so many wonderful supportive friends that I end 2011 feeling so overjoyed. I mean, really, who would have thought a little isolated artist posting a few sketches would find the key to a whole art community of like-minded, amazing, incredible people? Hanging out on Skype, G+, and in person at conferences has been the icing on the cake!  Oh, and the dancing! There was crazy fun dancing! The kidlit SCBWI crew definitely knows how to get down and jump around!

Before I forget, I want to mention I was interviewed by the wonderful, Kathy Temean.
See the post here.

To see my Scroogebunny for our Christmas Carol theme check out Between the End Pages.

A fallen maple branch which budded out of season became my christmas tree this year.

I even found an LED crystal garland light string for it.

Found this great comic on procrastination to get me in gear for the New Year.

All I'm asking Santa for this year are opportunities. I'll take care of the rest.

See you in 2012!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 OAL Thumb Box Exhibition

These are my submissions for the annual OAL Thumb Box Exhibition where the only rule is the total art dimensions (including frame) must not exceed 6”x 6”x 6”. One of my rules is to have fun with this, and my subject matter tends to end up being completely random and unrelated.

 I brought these to my parent's house to finish them up during the Thanksgiving weekend. As you can see I had some help from Andy, the furry art director.

You see a better view of the Automated Bunnies over on our group blog here.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

CAW - 'Strands' Show - Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle - Acrylic on wood - 7 3/4" x 12"
This is my painting for CAW's 'Strands' show at the Carnegie Gallery at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The show features visual and performance art about hair, fibers, DNA and other “strands.”

Show Dates: September 15 – October 21
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 15, 2011 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Main Library’s Carnegie Gallery (2nd floor)

The theme made me recall a simple string game, called cat's cradle that I used to play with my mom. In researching the origins of the game I found "versions of this game have been found in indigenous cultures all over the world" Here's a How-to Tutorial.
close-up scan
While working on this these lyrics kept strolling through my mind:
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

This was the only part of the Harry Chapin song I knew, so in order to not drive myself mad with the repetition, I listened to some audiobooks. This time, as per a suggestion by Tracy Bishop I listened to The Golden Compass series, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and WOW! it is an amazing audiobook series performed by a full cast. It has become my new favorite. (Don't tell Harry)

Here's some process shots
The messy part

Sanded and transferred the drawing

Clipped my color palette to the side of my drafting table.

Hmmm, I want more pattern

Decided to try some reverse transfers. Practiced on little test board, but still scary.

Came out darker than expected, but I like the wood grain showing through
Final close-up with painted textures

Friday, September 09, 2011

Illustration Friday: Boundaries

Some squirrels know no boundaries.
I've been finding with half eaten tomatoes in my garden....only the insides though....the culprits leave the tomato skin. I suspected the squirrels, and sure enough, one day I saw this guy stealing a green one, and another day one was eating a nice red cherry tomato. (Oh, but I should mention those are apples in the illustration. Didn't want you thinking I was fruit-identity deficient.)

This was a sketch from a awhile back that I colored up to add to my portfolio for the LA conference. I'm now working on a painting for a local show, which I'll post soon.

Until then, here are some photos of my sunflowers. I'm so glad they finally bloomed. I just hope the seeds develop before the first hard frost.

camera shy sunflower
contemplative sunflower
sad sunflower
sunflower with bumblebee

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 SCBWI LA Conference

Last weekend I attended the 4 day SCBWI 40th Annual Summer Conference in beautiful Los Angeles, California. It was a great conference filled with good times with good friends. I met a lot of great people like the cute boy on the plane who told me all about how cool Popeye is, awesome illustrators and writers....oh, and the handsome fireman I briefly talked to in the lobby. I knew going in that I wasn't going to be crazy note-taking girl like I was last year, and I wouldn't be doing 4 mega blog posts, but rather sum it all up here in one post because I need to get to work applying what I learned. It wasn't so much about the talking points as it was about soaking up the inspiration of being at an event surrounded by over 1300 children's writers and illustrators. It was a record turnout with folks from around the globe.

It was so wonderful meeting up with so many online friends, and friends from conferences past.

me, Linda Silvestri, Kelly Light, Casey Girard, Diandra Mae, Jim Hill
Kimberly Dwinell, Christina Barragan Forshay, Julia Shahin Collard, me, Jennifer Gray Olson

Congrats to wonderful friends who were Portfolio Showcase and Mentorship winners! ....Eliza Wheeler, Greg Pizzoli, John Deininger, Juana Martinez, and Christina Forshay!

Juana Martinez-Neal, Molly Idle, Debra Pehrson Haun, Linda Silvestri
at the 40 Winks Poolside Pajama Party!

I had a very helpful portfolio critique with Martha Rago, Executive Art Director, HarperCollins Children's Books. She pointed out which of my characters were working for her, and which were not. She also read through my first picture book dummy attempt in many years, and provided tips to improve my storytelling. I will need to take a writing course to better develop these skills.

On the last day of the conference, E.B. Lewis was kind enough to give me a portfolio critique, and he was so explicit about what many of my characters are missing, and pointed out which pieces had the quality he was looking for. This left my mind spinning as it was a complete 180 from what I was told in my critique last year. But, the more I digest his words the more I realize how right he is. He pointed me towards the works I have enjoyed creating most, where the process has been more a part of the work. His critique has had a profound effect on me. I haven't been able to think of much else since. It's like the blinders have been removed, and he has reminded me of my original intentions. For someone to look at your work, and say it could be better is a gift. It felt like Mr. E.B. Lewis looked inside my head, and knew what type of artist I want to be. For this, I thank him, dearly.

So my biggest take away from the conference is the status quo is not good enough. To take a line from Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible, "...the status is not quo. The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it." Ok, well maybe not the whole world, but I, at least, need to rule my own art. We saw wonderful drawing and painting demonstrations from David Small, Jerry Pinkney, Denise Fleming, Kadir Nelson, Richard Jesse Watson, Marla Frazee, and Paul O. Zelinsky, which made me want to refocus on technique, and experiment with mark making and traditional painting again.

I have to admit, before the conference I was wondering why I was going to LA so soon again, but I walked away with the inspiration, focus, and direction that I was craving. Of course, knowing what to do, and applying it are two separate things. Now that the bar has been raised I've had a difficult weekend with my sketchbook. Paintings are due next month, and there are so many projects I want to do at the moment. But, a few drawings are starting to cooperate, and I feel the first pings of excitement of what they might turn out to be. Stay tuned.... this is still the beginning.

"If you don't jump, the wings never come." -Bruce Coville, LA SCBWI keynote speech

"You never know how what you do will ripple out into the world" -Bruce Coville

Friday, July 29, 2011

New business cards and postcards

Do these piggie cards make me look fat?
My new business cards arrived from Overnight Prints. I like this new colorful packaging they arrived in. They remind me of trading cards.

 Here is the front and backs of my new promo postcards. I was going to design them to be mailable, but I couldn't resist filling up the back with art. I also like the rounded corners, and I heard the rounded doesn't mail well. I'll be handing these out at the LA SCBWI Conference next week. I'm saving a few for promotional mailings after I find some nice envelopes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

HP Fangirl- Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition

Atelier acrylic on 8" x 8" birch wood board

Here's my submission to the Harry Potter Tribute Blog hosted by Gallery Nucleus, who has a spectacular show planned for July 09 - August 01, 2011. I was notified that my piece has been selected to be on the blog, and included in the exhibition! Check out the show flyer to see see all the amazing artists contributing works.....even new paintings from Mary Grandpré herself!

When I first started this traditional style of painting acrylics on birch wood panels, I listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Jim Dale to accompany me through hours and hours of late night painting. It seemed fitting to honor the series with a tribute painting. I wanted to pay homage to the magic that every Harry Potter fan has felt through this series, with a little fangirl hugging her beloved Harry doll and Hedwig plush owl.

Final sketch, a quick color study in Photoshop, and the drawing on acrylic stained wood panel.

During the process I sand down some areas to reveal the woodgrain, and then spray it down with water to pop the grain back up again. It starts to feel more real for me as the paint sets farther into the wood, and the highlights are added.

I used a half inch birch board, and distressed the edges a bit.

This piece sold at the show opening! 

Prints, Posters, and Canvas Prints are available in my shoppe.