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 protected] 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?