I had my first week of Animal Anatomy and Drawing and the assignments were all on Big Cats. Last week I also had a chance to go to Cougar Mountain, a small zoo in Issaquah. We shot some nice photo reference, though.
The first assignment was to break down the animals into 3D geometric shapes. It was a bit hard at first, but I can see that it helps simplify and visualizes the 3D forms when you see them in the live animals. The idea of drawing the envelope is to get the general shape of the animal or figure before working on details. Here are some of my gesture drawings. For me, it’s easier working out the forms when watching a video loop of animals moving. The book for the course is Joe Weatherly’s Drawing Animals. We also had to do skeleton and ecorche versions.
I had a great time at our Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring Conference. It was neat to be with such an enthusiastic group that were all interested in children’s books. I liked all of the speakers, but especially David Small and Kazu Kibuishi who shared a lot of their personal stories about how they came to be motivated to do the work they do. David Small is Caldecott winner and Kazu is a writer and illustrator of graphic novels like the Amulet and Explorer.
This was the first time I put together a portfolio. I searched on the web for examples of how to set one up. I use an inexpensive photo album on Amazon that had a window in the cover.
I liked being able to present my work in the portfolio evening, but I also liked seeing everyone else’s work. I’m thinking about doing more drawing with ferrets especially since my visit to the ferret rescue in Kirkland. Their fur is very soft. There were a lot of illustrators I also had a chance to discover. I especially liked Heidi Aubrey‘s mice.
After a week off, I’ll be starting animal anatomy and drawing (yay). I’m also a few weeks into volunteer orientation to work in wild bird rehabilitation – skills training starts in May.
This is a little different from my art and illustration work (I’ll let you know how the SCBWI Conference went in a future post), but I took a Film elective this quarter and in addition to analyzing films, we had to make a short documentary-style film based on one of the AFI’s top 100 films. It had to include at least 5 interviews (friends and family ok) and address whether the film was relevant to audiences today. I picked the great Hitchcock film Vertigo.
I’m grateful to author (Auralia Thread series) and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet and attorney and film lecturer Robert Cumbow, and also my parents and grandmother Brock, Fernette, and Ruth Eide who allowed me to interview them for this film.
If you’d like to watch the my full uncut interviews with Jeffrey Overstreet and Robert Cumbow, see them below. I’m also grateful to the Dusten Kaspar and Seattle Film Festival for letting me film some of the opening moments of their 6-hour Cinema Dissection of Vertigo.
I’m signed up for the Illustrator Intensive “Hard Things to Draw” with David Small (see some of his covers below) as well as participating in the Juried Portfolio show. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of portfolios and hearing from other illustrators and writers, art directors, and agents. I’ve heard these conferences are great for networking and getting started in children’s books.
Here’s my design for a business card:
I’m also doing film class this RMCAD quarter, so I’m putting together a short film discussion of the movie, Vertigo.
I had a great chance to interview author and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet and attorney and film lecturer Robert Cumbow, in addition to my family. I even attended a 6-hour Cinema Dissection of Vertigo at the Seattle International Film Festival Center which gave me an even deeper understanding of the film.
Sorry – I haven’t been posting in a while. Here’s a work-in-progress painting of a Marbled Murrelet that I’m doing for Seattle Audubon. I’m planning to paint in a background of an old growth forest, but they have some important conversation actions coming up in March, so I also made this badge for them too:
The marbled murrelet is a bird that is endangered because its habitat depends on both the ocean and old growth forests. Although it’s a sea bird with webbed feet, it nests high up in old growth forests and lays a single egg at a time.
Things have otherwise been good. I’ll do another post soon. I’m taking Western Civilization this quarter, so more free time to work on projects like this murrelet. I’m also 4 weeks into an Artist’s Way class in Seattle and I’m just figuring out how to sell greeting cards on Etsy and Amazon. I can talk more about that in a future post.
Here’s some illustrations I was asked to make by my local Audubon society, Pilchuck Audubon. Jim Beneteau and other volunteers give lectures to school children about different beak adaptations and how they’re suited to what they eat. They didn’t have good visual illustrations, so I made these prints for them for their traveling kit.
Jim, Valerie, and Laurel asked for common birds that children might recognize in their backyards. The nice thing about having more picture of birds and what they eat is that students can think more about they are actually seeing. There’s the barn swallow that needs dart around quickly to grab insects, hummingbird that sips nectar deep in flowers, robin that digs around in dirt for worms, and pelican who eats fish.
If anyone is interested in purchasing cards for their classroom, they can contact me HERE.
My next painting is for Seattle Audubon. I’ll be painting a marbled murrelet which is an endangered species in Washington, Oregon, and California. It’s a sea bird that nests miles inland in old growth forests, so its vulnerable in both ocean and forest habitats. Its a neat bird that has webbed feet, but also is found in the tops of trees.
Here’s my final project for Still Life Painting. It was a great fun. The assignment was to create a composition that included ceramic, glass, and metal. I included Otis, who is a bird that I grew up with on our front table. He was molded by talented ceramicist Stephani Stephenson of Revival Arts Studio (her Facebook page is here). It was nice to be in touch with her after all these years.
From Otis, I learned a lot more about handling acrylic. For this piece, I used Ampersand Aquabord, Golden Acrylic, and Holbein Fluid Acrylic.
I’m also excited to share that I sold my first work through my website (thanks Garret!) and two additional works through the Gage Small Works show.
I’m halfway through Still Life Painting and I’m learning Acrylic Painting now. We’re painting several different ways – the first involved an underpainting. There was definitely a learning curve. I used Asmpersand Aquabord because I liked the smooth look over canvas. It also has the advantage of slowing drying for people who like to rework.
I used Golden heavy body acrylics, but then layered fluid acrylics on top. It was a bit slow to have to work with it in two steps, but I liked the control when the second layer was added. The next one I did have to have some basic geometric shapes and drapery. I’m also working on the third which has to involve toys and texture.
This week I also put up prints in the Small Works Art Show to benefit theGage Academy. Check it out today through December 9th! It’s a great way to purchase some inexpensive original art and also help the Academy.
Here’s my finished (I think) ink wash illustration from my concept class. Now I’ve begun Still Life, so it’s back to paintbrushes.
I did want to share some photos from our Western Washington SCBWI Keep It Simple Show. I’m lucky that it’s such a great group. Everyone was very generous and it was incredibly helpful seeing other people’s work, their tear sheets, and business cards. I’ve put in links to their websites on their works below. Check them out to be inspired. The artists are David Joaquin and Liz Wong in the top row; Maja Sereda and Tracy Wallschaleger of Red Dog Images.
The keynote speaker for the night was Jennifer Soloway of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She gave a fantastic talk on how to stand out from the slush pile, great first lines, and some of the ins and outs of being an artists’ representative.
It was busy for me last week. I’ll have to write about the SCBWI meeting in another post. Here are last week’s enlarged thumbnails from Concept Illustration. Up top is my Green Man and below Wish. I’m chose the deer thumbnail to elaborate this week.
The other thumbnails based on the random ink – water mixes are posted below. To look at the original random ink mixes I was working with, see my previous post.
The guy at the bottom is my most atypical one – but it was the face that jumped out of ink splatters. Last week we also had an exercise in which we were to take a walk and sketch everything that we saw that was a particular color. Then we were to combine those in scenes. I can see how these exercises are creativity stretchers. I really like this class.
I initially started with the idea of Copic markers and ink washes, but I found that I preferred the unexpected results of ink washes and the fractal patterns that they made as they got absorbed into paper to Copics, which were a more controlled medium.
Some of the random washes I’ll be working on this week are posted below. This week’s assignment for RMCAD is with abstract sources of inspiration for illustration. Next week, will be with concrete discoveries. It should be fun.
This past week, I had a caricature assignment. Caricatures aren’t usually my favorite art form, but it was interesting because of the way the class is held. The first step is extensive visual research on the person, then word lists based on different aspects of the person. I picked Gothic poet Edgar Allan Poe, so his words and poems also helped with generating a word list.
Next, our discussion was to share 3 caricature artists who could serve as an inspiration for our assignment. I picked David Levine, Mort Drucker, and Miguel Covarrubias who did Stanley Kubrick, Albert Einstein, and FDR below.
We had to do a final line drawing, 2 value sketches, and 2 color options based on a value sketch that we liked best. I drew the original in pencil on Mylar (much cleaner to erase) then added value and color using Photoshop and an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Caricature is helpful because it teaches you to simplify and pick the key features that make up a person or his or her expression.
Which do you like best? I think my teacher liked orange Poe the best, but I thought the purple Poe best fit with his melancholia. I also just opened up a store on Red Bubble. If you’d like to get a print or card, visit HERE. If you’d like to get an orange Poe instead, email me at email@example.com The final is due this week and I was thinking of adding some background.
Red Bubble is pretty easy to set up for all types of gifts and merchandise. I can see why artists like it so much. Poe pillow anyone?
After sketching thumbnails for my Gerda vs. the Snow Queen’s Snow Bees painting, I created 3 quick 3-value thumbnails to decide on the final composition. I found it really helps separating out the composition and value decisions before committing to a final work. Because I wanted to base the painting on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, I also want to work in the detail that he had about the palace being lit by Northern Lights.
Although I liked the extremes of values in the value study, I settled on the 3rd study because I liked the idea that the shadows on the hill would be pointing to Gerda, my focal point. I added some hills in the background to create greater depth and also added more complex branchwork in the final.
I started out with pencil and watercolor on Arches watercolor paper, but finished the piece digitally using Procreate and an Ipad Pro because I could play around with different color combinations before deciding on a final. I really like Procreate and the Apple Pencil because the process of illustrating with them is so close to real pencil, paper, and paint – but with much more flexibility with materials and undo’s. I had an earlier version, but Phil my teacher and classmate China suggested good feedback about brightening up the colors among other things. Our next assignment should be fun – drawing caricatures. I’ve picked my subject already…Edgar Allan Poe.
The City of Edmonds is having its Art Studio Tour today and tomorrow through 5pm. This was fun. I’ve never done one of these before.
Andy Eccleshall is auctioning off the piece at left to benefit Osteogenesis Imperfect or Brittle Bone disease. When we were there, the last bid was $1000. Visit his site and call or text to bid. Both his wife and son have Osteogenesis Imperfecta. It’s a good cause.
His pieces are more amazing in person if that’s possible.
The range of artist was quite wide and it was fun to see their studio spaces.
Other highlights were the the carved sea and myth-related paintings of d’Elaine Johnson.
I also really enjoyed the whimsical sculptures of Michael O’Day and the repurposed sculptures of the Flying Redhead Lynette Hensley. O’Day’s sculptures would be great for Halloween. I’m glad that my little town supports artists with open studios like these.
In Concept Illustration, we have an assignment to design an illustration based on the broad theme of conflict (character vs character, character vs. environment etc). I’ve thought about doing illustrations from the original Snow Queen so on our thumbnail assignment, which was limited to black and white and approximately 1 x 2 inches.
I’ve always been inspired with James Gurney’s maquette work (here is his Skybax maquette made out of armature wire, sculpey, floral wire, and stockings covered with latex among other ingredients.
I liked being able to walk around the scene and vary the perspective – vertically and horizontally. I used armature wire and chavant clay which doesn’t harden.
I also had to have 2 color comps and three 3-color value sketches. My instructor picked thumbnail 3 so that’s the one I’m working on, but with more background added.
Our discussion this past week was to collect illustrations that could be used as inspiration for creating your scene. I picked these great works by Sendak, Lathrop, and Dulac.
I’ve had a week off before heading into the new quarter and Concept Illustration. I know a lot of animal artists talk about visiting the zoo to draw animals from life, but the zoo has its limitations – including the fact the animals are usually pretty far away. Yesterday I went to a Kangaroo farm and had a chance to hold a baby kangaroo and get close to a variety of animals I don’t normally see.
Besides kangaroos, there were lemurs, emus, donkeys, alpacas, Patagonian Cavies, and more. Plenty to see. It was neat to see the differences between animals and their different temperaments.
I had heard that Disney and Pixar animators work with live animals to capture their gestures and expressions.
Ralph Eggleston of Pixar said he watched a lot of National Geographic videos to get the correct shivers of birds for his For the Birds video (below). He also videotaped his bird for a few hours and he and his team studied its movements. The team also brought in Cornish game hens to study volume and weight.
I mostly took reference video and I’m going to practice sketching animals from different perspectives. I’ve heard it’s better trying to sketch from a looping video than relying on still photos alone…I can see why. James Gurney shared his tip about sketching a pony from life. He chose the time to draw it when he knew it would be sleeping.
We had an interesting discussion this past week about realistic (or hyper-realistic) painting vs. realistic
painting with fantastic elements. A fellow student shared some of the hyper-realistic paintings of Charles Jeong from South Korea. I shared Allen Williams’ If Beauty Were a Book, done in graphite.
I realized while I like representational art, I prefer works that convey emotion or story more than complete accuracy.
In our final assignment of the class (costume figure), I decided to change it up a bit and use color and value changes, and even changes in the model to alter the mood.
It great to get back painting again. I combined a gouache underpainting with transparent watercolor and then Faber Castell Polychromos pencils and little touches of Sennelier pastels for highlights. It was nice to see that all of the media seemed to work together.
Had a great time with the critique group through SCBWI last weekend. Now I have a week off before starting Concept Illustration.
It’s been another busy week, but learning a lot more what CarbOthello pencils can do. I really like the medium although I have a lot to learn about making color blends. This past week had our usual gesture drawings, 2 hand drawings in pastel, and then a costumed figure drawing. Sanded paper like UArt or Wallis can receive more layers than Canson Mi-Teintes or other pastel papers, but they will eat up your pencils quicker.
I found I like the soft rich blacks of Nitram charcoal. It also doesn’t have as much dust as General’s.
I’ll also post the three examples of pastel paintings that I posted in this week’s discussion. Pastel offers such a wide variety of expression. I really like the medium.
The first is a rendering of Ophelia from Cuong Nguyen who worked as a successful web designer for many years until he got working more as a streetchalk artist, then became a full-time fine art painter. I learned from him that skin tones can be mixed with a green underpainting (verdaccio) and flesh tones.
The second is an illustration from Paul Howard from a Jill Tomlinson book called The Owl who was afraid of the dark. I like the soft luminous quality Howard was able to get from his use of pastels.
Finally, there’s The Guardian by Fiona Tang. It combines chalk pastel with charcoal and acrylic on a paper backing. The different textures of the various media used for this piece this piece contribute to the overall effect in different ways; the chalk pastel in particular is important to the trompe l’oeil effect, helping to differentiate the “three-dimensional” stag in the front from the more “two-dimensional” background charcoal elements, with the white tone of the pastel “light” against the natural brown color of the paper.
This coming week is my final one for Life Drawing IV. We’ve got a watercolor assignment, the first I’ve had since I’ve been in art school. Also this weekend, I’ll be going to the Great Critique-nic through the Western Washington Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. It’ll be the first one that I’ve ever gone to. People bring their illustrations or writing and split up into small groups where they critique and be critiqued.
This past week my class has been looking at the drawing of expressive hands. We’re still working for the most part in charcoal which is getting easier to handle for me. I like Strathmore Toned Paper and I’m finding it easier to get darker tones with a softer Nitram charcoal. I had started with Strathmore 500 charcoal, but it doesn’t have the smooth look of toned paper.
Besides drawing practice (whole body gestures) and these hand drawings, we also have a discussion post where we post examples of expressive hands. Everyone always shares very different examples – it’s a great part of the class.
The three I shaerd this past week were from Rackham, Wyeth, and Earl Oliver Hurst. In the Rackham, I thought it was an interesting contrast between the knobby hands of the old woman and the simple open hands of the children. The Wyeth also showcases contrasts in this Heidi picture. The grandfather is tanned and has a commanding gesture. It’s contrasted with Heidi’s fairer and more tentative post. The Hurst I liked because he seemed to contrast the confident face of the man with the nervous lines in his jacket and hands.