I just had this postcard made up in time for the SCBWI Publisher’s Bootcamp this weekend. There’s going to a talks by local agents and art director Goldstein from Sasquatch books and a 4 minute pitch round where I’ll get a chance to pitch a book idea.
SCBWI Western Washington has been a great branch of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators helping people learn more about book publishing and hopefully get published themselves.
We had portolio reviews there and then Scholastic! I’ve long been a fan of Arthur Levine Books, so it was an experience showing my work to Editor Weslie Turner. She said it was a great portfolio overall, but she wanted to see if I could bring the emotions and movements of my animal characters to kids – so I have more work to do.
I also spent hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and even some of the Frick collection. As it should happen, at the same time, I had assignment to do a Singer Sargent master copy. At right is a portrait I painted digitally of Julia inspired by Sargent’s The Daughters of Darley Boit. The more I looked, the more colors I saw. I tried to capture that piercing look that so many of Sargent’s paintings have.
I also got to see the Broadway show Aladdin while I was there. It also was great. A friend of my parents even knew some members of the cast.
Tomorrow I’ll be heading down to California for the Comics, Anime, Cartoons, and Fantasy show at Las Laguna Gallery. Here’s the flyer! Say hello if you stop by. I plan to be there from 6:30-9:30 by my painting (Squid Attack on the Nautilus). More information can be found here. The show will be up from April 5-27th.
I’m excited to share that I’ve juried in two art pieces in the Fantastical Worlds Exhibition at Blakely Hall. The curator is Anna Macrae and the event was organized by ArtEast. I am thrilled and honored. There are some amazing artists in the show. Put it on your calendar. The opening reception is September 7th at Blakely Hall in Issaquah 6-8 pm. The art should be up until the beginning of November.
Here is my Art Statement for the show:
Animals have always captured my imagination. They come with a wild array of forms, colors, sounds, and with them an inner world we can only see faint traces of, and can never fully understand. Focusing on animals in my work always seemed natural to me, expressing emotions and worlds outside our understanding.
“Outside Looking In” is a somewhat personal piece, capturing a moment in time between two worlds. The piece started from random pourings of blue ink on paper, which formed an appealing landscape; the rest was filled in digitally.
“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Rabbits” is a lighthearted piece, which attempts to capture that sense of wonder and mystery I’ve always been drawn to, of entering a world you never knew you were missing.
I was also happy to hear that my painting of Edgar (see right) made it into ArtEast’s Put a Bird On It show that opens this Thursday evening at the ArtEast Center (I’ll be there) and remains there until October 1st.
This week’s assignment are gestures of bears, wolves, and dogs. Using a envelope for the animals and simplifying geometric shapes helps with simplifying. The class is setting into a routine of drawing gestures with a little value added in some, skeleton and ecorche version, and discussion post which looks at different rendering of animals characters and how they can be portrayed as protagonists or antagonists in a story. It’s fun seeing the examples that my classmates come up with.
I’m finding I really like drawing with the Procreate app on the iPad pro and Apple pencil. It’s close to drawing with a real pencil. When I want this soft effect with pencil, I usually prefer to use mylar (Dura-lar) which comes in huge rolls from Dick Blick and erases cleanly.
My discussion post:
There’s some amount of range when it comes to how sympathetically bear characters are portrayed. On the sympathetic side, there are characters such as teddy bears, and related characters such as the Care Bears and Winnie the Pooh, which are modeled more on the stuffed animal than the actual animal.
More realistic sympathetic bears include Baloo from any of the multiple adaptations of The Jungle Book, Smokey the Bear, and the bear family of Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear.
On the more antipathetic side, there are characters such as the bear in the film version of The Fox and the Hound, and the grizzly bear from the film Balto, which are portrayed as bestial, inhuman predators.
When wolves are portrayed positively, they tend to come off as majestic, intelligent, loyal, embodying the nobility of nature; the wolf family in The Jungle Book, Moro in Princess Mononoke.
Negatively, wolves are portrayed as crafty predators, as with the classical fairytale archetype of the Big Bad Wolf.
The main example I can think of when it comes to neutral/background characters is how, in Donald Duck etc. comics, otherwise “human” side/background characters tend to be given dog noses, and occasionally ears. Here, the use of animal characteristics basically just signifies that these stories take place in a completely unreal fantasy world.
In general, I would say that completely realistic renderings of animals, as you might find in an educational book, often have less strong emotional expressivity, and are less immediately emotionally accessible as a result. Even mostly realistic designs often “cheat” when it comes to faces, adding human elements such as humanoid scleras, eyebrow muscles, and mouth expressions.
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’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.
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.