This is a WIP (work in progress). Assignment this week for Typography is designing a book cover using a previous drawing. This is Jeremy – The Rabbit Who Wanted to Fly. Lots of possibilities for how this story could go.
As much as I liked traditional atelier instruction like at the Gage Academy, I’ve really wanted to get more experience drawing imaginatively and using drawing to tell stories. One great exercise we had to do in my Mastering the Pencil class at RMCAD last quarter was drawing multiple thumbnails to tell a story.
The prompt was an old suitcase. We had to make a story out of it. Here are some thumbnails sketching out potential characters, locations, and sequences. From the brainstorm, I created an Agatha Christie Miss Marple-like character, Emmeline Duck who solves mysteries like the suitcase at the bottom of Bolger Pond.
Last week when I was writing a paper on the great illustrator Howard Pyle, I was struck by this quote from him: “If the first sketch looks like the one I want to do, to make sure—I always make the other forty-nine anyway.”
Here’s a final project from my 3D design class. We had to create a balancing sculpture and I balanced a mama barn swallow made out of sculpey clay on a baby. I’m glad it worked! I chose to use sculpey, because I know a lot of 2D artists use sculpey to make maquettes that help them with composition and lighting.
Also instead of the Windy Shrews (see my prior Balderdash assignment post), I decided the final Mowburnt project would be a burnt sort of elephant shrew who thought he was Horatio Hornblower.
My classes this quarter are History of American Illustration and Typography. I’ll update more soon.
As a prompt for creativity, my teacher had an assignment based on the word game Balderdash. She assigned everyone an obscure word where we were to come up with different drawings for what the word could be. My word was ‘mowburnt’. The definition I gave a mowburnt was a small singe black shrew-like creature. We had to draw 30 thumbnail possibilities and then narrow them down.
This is just a preliminary sketch / WIP. Another possibility has a Horatio Hornblower-like shrew paddling a sardine can, and another, an urban shrew dreaming up a better life.
Last week, I also had chance to volunteer at the Burke Museum‘s Bird Day part of a small group from the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Every one was very nice and welcoming, though I was just a college student. Several explained that they had more of a science background than art when they first became illustrators.
I found out the Burke museum has a close relationship to science illustrators at the University of Washington. They hold an exhibit of new graduates from the UW program in scientific illustration every year.
In James Gurney‘s tutorials I learned that he does a lot of sketching and exhibiting in museums of natural history because of his interest in dinosaurs and birds. Because birds and a lot of other animals move so quickly, having time to study the structure of different and similar animals in a natural history museum can be very helpful for field work. At the Burke, I was also told that artists are at the museum almost every day working with the different departments. Apparently the museum employs some artists to help with their design needs and educational exhibits, but community artists are also welcome to come into the museum and work with their different animal specimens for free.
I’m looking forward to sculpting this tomorrow – we’re supposed to take a myth and create a container based on it. This was my favorite idea for the Tibetan story of the Frog King. The Frog King outwits both a fox and a tiger. My mythic object will be strands from the tails of a tiger and a fox when they got them tied together in a knot.
My teacher in Mastering the Pencil this quarter is children’s book illustrator Karen Windness. We had a fun assignment this past week creating a veggie or fruit circus using the real items in a diorama that would serve as a model for a pencil scene. I went to a Chinese market (lots of things looked like they could be characters in a circus) and picked out a sweet potato that looked like an elephant.
It was good to have a physical model to work with to work out the placement of characters, lighting, and background elements. Here’s my sweet potato with ginger arms and legs. Here’s my drawing that I’ll submit today. I used some graphite powder for shading (Creatacolor better than General’s).
I finished my watercolor portrait workshop with Hamid at Gage Academy this past week, but I still wanted to learn more, so I checked out Scott Waddell‘s Art of the Painting video. It’s great! His demo is for oil, but most of his principles work for all classical painting. He starts off ‘posterizing’ the major lights and darks, establishes the values, then shifts into conceptualizing mode, carving the face in 3D in color. I found the method straightforward and much simpler than just trying take in all the information at once. Scott supplements his painting with video illustrations of the behavior of light on 3D surfaces.
Here are 2 portraits that are more exercises / WIP rather than finished works. The girl is from this 1966/1967 film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. I still have more I would like to do on that piece, but the RMCAD school year starts up in a week, and I’m going to see if I can learn more about composition before then.
James Gurney has a great blog, Gurney Journey with great resources for how he learns to paint imaginary characters with life-like weighting, color, and balance. He uses references photos extensively to help him figure out feel the emotions of the characters in his pictures.
“The idea is to get into the spirit of the action, feel the wind in your face and hear the screech of the pterosaur.
I think that’s more important than getting a photographically real piece of reference to copy. If you can identify with the weight and balance of things, and especially the emotion, you’ve got 90% of the problem solved.”[youtube=http://youtu.be/u6VozAf1vpc]
I’m on break for another week and have had the chance to experiment with gouache. Gouache is an opaque watercolor paint. I’m finding it to be a more natural medium for me than transparent watercolor or oil.
I also had the chance to go to the zoo yesterday so I’m thinking of trying to paint some birds or animals.
Here’s a digital illustration version of Basilton. Basilton’s back story is that he is Chief Inspector from Somerset in England. A resident of the bat colony of Somerset, he was promoted to Chief Inspector of Police after he solved several high profile crimes.