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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s my Ecorche final for Life Drawing III. It was challenging to work from a photograph and then imagine all the muscles underneath.
I found it helpful working with an Ecorche app on my iPad. Another helpful app is Skelly for skeletal work. If you frequently rotate the model in the app it helps get a 3D sense of where the muscles are in space.
I’m nearing the end of Life Drawing III and it’s been a great quarter, but it’s still hard to find enough time to paint. We’re working on more complex figures and also doing some ecorche drawings (they show muscles without skin) in more dynamic poses.
Yesterday I also went to my first meeting of the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists. It’s one of the oldest art associations in the United States. It’s an accomplished group and we learned a lot. The guest speaker is David Gray whose painting work I admire. He was very down to earth and very generous with sharing techniques and practical tips. I’ll embed a video of him painting a self-portrait. For now, I am focusing on watermedia, but I’d like explore oil. PSGart meets monthly in Kirkland.
This Christmas break, I’ve been doing more sketching to improve my skills. I’m trying to make each single piece tell more of a story and I’m also working on more backgrounds and landscape elements. For my birthday, I went sketching at the zoo (cold, but could be worse) and took some advice from David Rankin who wrote the book Fast Sketching Techniques. I heard about him from a wildlife artist that I admire. He made the distinction between drawing and sketching – and pointed out the frustration of wanting to draw from wildlife, but difficult because it’s always moving.
We started some of the exercises in the book and put some of his advice into practice at the zoo. I still would like to touch up some of the sketches I did there, but’ll I’ll share them in a future post. He recommended staying longer with one animal and taking in all the little mannerisms. It becomes easier after you’ve drawn the same animal many times from different positions and doing different things.
The drawing of the girl is from a foreign movie based on a children’s fairytale. The man with the mustache is more my own invention and I titled it Admonition. The other photo is a sketch of Albert Schweitzer from a vintage photo.
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.
I just learned that I won one of the First Prizes in the Best of the Gage Academy Awards for 2015! Wow! I’m kind of blown away. If you’d like to see my work and the other winners of the Best of the Gage this year, it’ll be on display in the Steele Gallery at the Gage (1501 10th Ave E #101, Seattle, WA 98102) until August 17th.
If you don’t know about the Gage, it’s a famous fine art school in Seattle founded by Gary Faigin and associated with such luminaries as Juliette Aristides.
My prize-winning drawing was done in my first-ever figure drawing class with Aron Hart (Figure Foundation I). I’ll admit I was initially overwhelmed by figure drawing, but I found that blocking in shapes, making master copies, and then learning the anatomy helped a lot. It was in Aron’s class that I also first started using graphite sticks and compressed charcoal and I took to that medium very well.
I know I haven’t had time to post blog updates in a while, but I’ll get back to them. Lots of great things – finished out another quarter of Art History and Composition (wrote on The Ambassadors by Holbein) and now halfway through Color and Figure Drawing II. This is a great quarter as I’m doing all art. I’ve also be traveling a lot but have some great photos from my time at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston.
I had a breakthrough in painting this week, mixing more colors and getting more of a sense of the brush. There are still things I struggled with, but this was turned out much better than I thought and it’ll be a surprise for my cousin and her husband.
I was also searching this past week for creative commons sources for reference photos and I found a nice site called Paint My Photo which has a lot of high resolution photos of animals, landscapes, and portraits that I’ll definitely use. The site brings artists and photographers and each enjoys the other’s work.
I think I’m going to tackle another interesting bird for my next work.