I just turned in this illustration last week for Illustrating Literature class. It continues some ideas I have about Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea with Animals. I learned a lot more about painting water, textures, and lighting on this one and this week I’m working on more sequential illustrations from the story.
It’s been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to post to the blog, but I had an incredible time at #CTNexpo2017. I’ll have to follow up in other posts, but one of the sessions I went to was on publishing. Many of the artists at this expo were involved at least some point in huge animations studios like Disney, Dreamworks, Pixar, Blue Sky. Greg Manchess and Armand Baltzar talked about how they had a dream of getting their artwork and stories into book form, although they didn’t clearly fit into either picture books or graphic novels. The result is Greg’s Above the Timberline and Armand’s Timeless.
Here’s an example from Greg’s book. The inset is a personalized inscription he gave me.
This past week, we were studying wordless picture books. Here is my discussion post answering questions such as some favorite wordless picture books and whether we thought wordless picture books could be improved with words or vice-versa, whether there were picture books with words that could published as wordless.
A prime contender for my favorite wordless picture book is Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. It tells a metaphorical story about the immigrant experience, with a poor man leaving home on a steamship in order to support his family, and finding himself in a bizarre new world. Many aspects of immigration are reflected: confusion, frustration, tedious manual labor, and the dangers of war, but also the joys of making new friends, discovering new experiences, and finding ways to support the people you love. The world of The Arrival is visually set in the early 20th century, and the art style is modeled after the sepia photographs of those periods, making the strange creatures and environments feel all the more otherworldly. The lack of words helps to make the reader’s connection with the immigrant protagonist all the more direct, as he struggles to figure out an often difficult to comprehend new environment. In Tan’s own words, “Words have a remarkable magnetic pull on our attention, and how we interpret attendant images: in their absence, an image can often have more conceptual space around it, and invite a more lingering attention from a reader who might otherwise reach for the nearest convenient caption, and let that rule their imagination.”
A wordless picture book that I haven’t read in its entirety, but is pretty good from what I’ve seen, is Journey by Aaron Becker. I like it because of its sense of wonder, and its simple, positive message about creative works can break boundaries and reach out to other people. The lack of words in this book, again, helps to place the reader in the protagonist’s place, as they discover the possibilities of their creativity over the story’s course.
I kind of can’t name any wordless books that I think would be improved by words. Wordless picture books have their own strengths as a format; they have a certain element of discovery to them, as the reader pieces together events without the aid of a narrative text. There are some books could be adapted pretty simply, if not necessarily improved, into effective wordless books. Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are comes to mind, as do some of Beatrix Potter’s works.
I’m starting my picture book dummy based on the story of The Velveteen Rabbit. I could tell the gist of the plot of the story without words, but I feel like some nuances, such as the point the Skin Horse makes about toys becoming real, would be at least partially lost.
I just found out today that I won a Charlene Cosgrove Memorial Scholarship at my university, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design! It was very unexpected. It’s $825 that I can put toward tuition.
I submitted this painting a marbled murrelet (it’s actually still a WIP – some things I need to clean up) done in gouche and transparent watercolor and the crow that I recently posted here on the blog and Gerda from the Snow Queen (below).
There was also a writing prompt with the scholarship and I had a chance to write on a Japanese artist Tabaimo who recently had an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum here in Seattle.
The question we were to write about was whether we thought the context of the artist was important for a full appreciation and understanding of art. For me, the context of the art is very important.
I’ll post my paper below for anyone who might be interested. Also here’s a short video interview with Tabaimo talking about the exhibition.
Here’s a great commission that I had a chance to draw, a smiling crow. I haven’t had a chance to post, but now I’m taking Non-Western Art History. It’s passing pretty quickly (Haiti, India, China, Japan so far), but it’s been interesting.
At the beginning of summer, I also had a chance to start working in a small wildlife rehabilitation center. It’s been a great experience so far – mostly birds and small mammals. Here are two long-time residents, Hooligan and Eclipse – both barred owls who aren’t able to be released because they have one wing. They are beautiful. It’s Hooligan who likes to talk.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Interesting work in Life Drawing class the past week. We’re learning how to simplify figures by blocking in simple geometric shapes. It helps generalize what you’re seeing and I think will make it easier working from life.
At the Terryl Whitlach conference, she had recommended Future Publications’ How to Paint and Draw Anatomy which showed how to break the human figure into simpler shapes. I found the book (actually both volumes) online at Scribd.
Today, my teacher also shared a video that will make really help what I want to be able to do. The figures are very fluid, but also have volume.
I just heard today that Hornblower During the Crisis has been accepted in the SCBWI Western Washington Illustrators Exhibit at the Washington State Convention Center! This will be my first juried group exhibition. It runs from July 1- September 30th. I also just dropped off some art for the Best of the Gage Exhibition. The exhibition and sale there is June 17th, and of course the Clymer Museum exhibition goes through June 25th.
In addition to school, I’ve been experimenting with different ways of adding color. This past week I did some colored pencil work with the black and white owl and frog drawing. I like really like Faber-Castell Polychromos. They are oil-based, so blend with baby oil and can work side-by-side with watercolor paints or pencils.
I’ve also been doing some sketching and thinking about doing some illustrations for Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen. There are two good crow characters that are part of the story so I thought it would be nice to do. We get a lot of crow visitors in the backyard.
I also saw an inspiring video today. Sargy Mann is a painter who became blind when he was his 30’s. See his story below.
I’m starting to noodle around more with digital art programs since I got a iPad Pro and Apple Pencil last weekend. It’s great.
I just started learning the programs, but colored a pencil sketch and can see the potential.
I can see why many artists are raving . My Cintiq cable died (its awkward 3-headed connector) and the company is out of all replacements – and they can’t be bought anywhere else.
iPad Pro + Apple Pencil CAN connect to a computer using the Astropad app – which makes the process freeing. I used Corel Painter and have also started working with Procreate which is an amazing app for $5.99.
At RMCAD, it’s Art History III (Modern) this month but also had a great time at the opening of our Nature’s Call show at the Clymer Museum (my work is part of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Northwest). It runs through June 25th and they’ll have another First Friday event in June if you might want to visit.
Earlier this month I also had a chance to attend a meeting of the Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators – Western Washington at Seattle Pacific. That was a great experience. They start off with videos filmed in the artists’ studio (I’ll post Jessixa’s and Doug’s below) and then they answer questions. I liked seeing how their illustrations evolved.
Just finished this – it’s my last week in Basic Illustration. It’s been a great class. It’s been a learning curve going to ink from pencil. The assignment was to choose a fortune cookie fortune and make a drawing from it. My fortune was “You are wise to keep your eyes open at all times.”
We weren’t allowed to use ink washes so it was a change for me as I had to focus on line art.
The ink drawing was first done in pencil then inked using micron pens, a Lamy fountain pen, and a little Copic marker for blocking in the grass. I also use Duralar mylar which helped a lot with my learning curve for ink. Duralar is very forgiving with ink – because it erases cleanly with alcohol or the colorless Copic marker blender.
It’ll be my first show. I’ll also have an elk cow and crow in the exhibition. We’ll be driving out on the first Friday, May 6th, 5-7 pm. Food & Wine will be by Springboard Winery and music will be provided by the Lincoln Elementary School Music Club.
Every week, the class assignment is to have each person suggest an illustration or group of illustrations based on the reading. For the chapter on tone, I chose this 1912 illustration by Sidney Sime (1867 – 1941) for Lord Dunsany’s The Book of Wonder. I chose it partly because it has some similarities, in terms of subject matter, value range, and atmosphere, to my own project for this week. I also chose it because it effectively uses various value and compositional elements, including a chiaroscuro technique, to guide the viewer’s eye throughout the piece. The first major area of light starts at the upper left corner, then trails around, almost like a curving road, to the first major subject, the city in the rocks. In turn, the curved shape of the light/shadow pattern and the diagonal lines of the rock lead into the menacing blackness filled with eyes under the bridge. The smoky shape at right helps to transition the viewer down to the next major subject, the man on the winged beast.
Imagine what the piece would look like without the large shadowy area at left. It would lose some of its atmosphere, with the impression of discovering something grand and menacing in a dark, obscure region. In addition, the black space filled with eyes under the bridge would be less clear as a main subject of the piece, since the chiaroscuro patterns of light and dark have the area immediately above as the brightest spot in the composition.
Finally! Basic Illustration this quarter with a lot of my fellow illustration majors at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. The assigned book is James Gurney’s Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist – a book that I’ve checked out from the library several times before. The assignment this week was pretty open, make drawings with animals doing human things. We start with thumbnails (these only about 3 inches long) that allow us to play with different scenes and perspectives. I did a few with an underwater rabbit, then other storylines (elephant tailor, storytelling stork with ferrets around a campfire, and then some others like a kangaroo and gazelle dancing and fox and mole golfing. It’s already what I do in my spare time.
Next step is a value study, then texture, transfer to mylar, and ink finish. The one I’m taking to final is the underwater bunny discovering a lost city. I thought it would be good for me to work more on environments.