Here’s a newborn baby Douglas squirrel. Their nest was found broken on the ground with no other babies or mom in sight. We think it may have been a predator.
We also have 6 Western cottontails and a new screech owl. The last screech owl has recovered well and has been released.
I’m in Digital Illustration II now and we’re doing practicing realistic techniques. Not as fun as narrative illustrations, but I’m definitely picking up some new things. I had a great trip to New York City – I’ll post that later this week. The smaller picture is the photo reference.
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.
I just had my first week of Children’s Book Illustration 1 at RMCAD and the first assignment was to develop a few several concept sketch comics in 3 panels on the theme of: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
It was a nice first assignment to ease into thinking about sketching from a visual storytelling perspective vs. drawing single sketches.
The last one was probably my favorite. This week we’re drawing a mini book dummy for an Aesop’s fable.
We’re continuing to draw our way through the animal kingdom. Each week’s assignment follows the same pattern – block out the geometric shapes, then draw animal gestures. We’re also doing a skeleton study and ecorche / muscle drawing, so it’s busy. Having done an ecorche for each group helps in making a fantasy hybrid animal (WIP). These are just a few of the sketches from the past weeks.
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.
I’ve had a week off before heading into the new quarter and Concept Illustration. I know a lot of animal artists talk about visiting the zoo to draw animals from life, but the zoo has its limitations – including the fact the animals are usually pretty far away. Yesterday I went to a Kangaroo farm and had a chance to hold a baby kangaroo and get close to a variety of animals I don’t normally see.
Besides kangaroos, there were lemurs, emus, donkeys, alpacas, Patagonian Cavies, and more. Plenty to see. It was neat to see the differences between animals and their different temperaments.
I had heard that Disney and Pixar animators work with live animals to capture their gestures and expressions.
Ralph Eggleston of Pixar said he watched a lot of National Geographic videos to get the correct shivers of birds for his For the Birds video (below). He also videotaped his bird for a few hours and he and his team studied its movements. The team also brought in Cornish game hens to study volume and weight.
I mostly took reference video and I’m going to practice sketching animals from different perspectives. I’ve heard it’s better trying to sketch from a looping video than relying on still photos alone…I can see why. James Gurney shared his tip about sketching a pony from life. He chose the time to draw it when he knew it would be sleeping.
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.
I had a great time in a 1-day pastel workshop at the Cole Art Studio. I used Nupastels on LaCarte paper for this painting of a dik dik, a small antelope that lives in Africa. I worked on this in the afternoon.
In the morning, I painted an African hornbill.
Pastels seem almost effortless. I’m looking forward to doing more.
Here’s some photos from the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Annual Conference in Santa Cruz. It was great! It’s the first art conference I’d ever been to. Some highlights:
portfolio sharing of illustrators on the opening night, then opening keynote by Jack Laws who shared his approach to nature observation and inquiry while outdoors with his sketch book. Jane Kim told us about her gutsy Kickstarter to create art California Highway 395 (Migrating Murals) to call attention the plight of big horn sheep in the areas in which their migration was endangered, Breck Tyler who shared some wonderful discoveries about albatrosses in the Midway Atoll, techniques presentations where artists shared their Reid Psaltis,Jennifer Bates, and Linda Feltner shared technical details of their art, a communal mural of animals in the Monteray Bay area, and finally talks by Terryl Whitlatch (Star Wars, Brother Bear, many more) and even John Fleskes of Spectrum Fantastic Art who shared how he started spectrum many years go. Terryl’s talk was interesting because described how she used her understanding of animal anatomy to make imaginary creatures believable. I also was able to do a workshop with her where she showed how she designed a hippogriff. During her plenary talk, she shared a lot of backstories, including how she design Sebulba to be a an anti-Jar Jar based on the skeleton of a camel. The moose pictures are designs she created to imagine how a moose might move when it talked.
It was a great conference to hear from people at all stages of their career and working in very different ways.
I dropped my Hornblower in the Crisis of at the Washington State Convention Center on Wednesday and got a sneak peek at other work that will be on display from the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators now until September 30th. It’s a fantastic show and I’m honored to have work in it. We’re going to go down tomorrow with our family and my grandparents and take it all it. There’s also a Meet the Illustrators and Family Draw Along September 17th which I know will be great.
Art History III is over for me now and it’s nice to get more drawing together. The past week I’ve been trying out new methods of adding color to my pencil drawings. This crow (we like crows in house) was based on an old photo of Fred Astaire.
I’m trying watercolor, colored pencil, and pastel over printed versions from the Artisan 1430 printer.
My new course this quarter is Life Drawing IV. It feels good to be working in traditional media again. I’m also started working with charcoal powder for the first time. It’s messy, but I really like what can be done with a light touch. I’m also seeing what a difference it makes using a fine grade of charcoal paper.
Here’s a skull that was this week’s homework. This holiday weekend I’m going to be traveling down to Monterey for the annual meeting of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Looking forward to it! It’ll be my first art conference. Jack Laws is one of the keynotes. I admire both of their work.
My parents were on the East Coast to give some talks at Landmark College in Vermont. They stopped in at the R. Michelson Gallery in Massachusetts, a gallery famous for its children’s book illustration.
Here are some great photos of watercolor work by Caldecott Award winner Jerry Pinkney. They knew of him because he had talked about his dyslexia, but we’re all familiar with his beautiful animal work. There’s a lot to be inspired about in his work – dynamic composition, expressiveness, and brushwork. It’s especially helpful to see the works close up because I could see how he combined pencil and watercolor in a way that looked effortless.
I hope to post more of my own work soon. I’m doing more sketches of the Snow Queen with the iPad Pro and Apple pencil but nothing to show yet. I recently read a new translation of the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. It’s very different any of film adaptations. I’m setting my illustrations in Sweden because my father’s side is mostly from Sweden and Norway.
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.
Here’s my pencil illustration for the the thumbnail I previously uploaded. I went with the underwater city. I took some of my inspiration loosely from those great Jules Verne books, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and all the vintage diver stories. I’ll also post my inked / copic tone marker version at the bottom. Ink and copic markers are new media for me. I also am working on Mylar / Dura-lar, which is helpful for making frequent revisions, especially with ink.