Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Illustration Friday- Polar

My submission for this week's Illustration Friday prompt. It's a personal painting I did last year during my senior year at art school, greatly inspired by a beautiful polar bear photograph you may have seen before. I called it "The Family Ursus Martinus," as it represents the dynamic of my own family...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Oliver Twist

Ok, so it's not much, but I wanted to do a little painting further exploring my stylization of classical characters. So here's my simple take on Oliver Twist....

Personally I don't really like it much right now. I guess I like the color, but in terms of style I just don't know that it's working...

On to bigger and better things...

Sketches & Scans

Here are some little bits scanned from my sketchbook, most I tweaked in Photoshop. They aren't very new, but I wanted to post something.... anything really. I feel stale so I'm attempting to motivate myself by using this blog to post ideas and sketches and finished work as much as possible. I don't know what (if anything) will come of these, but there you have it.

This is my Thumbelina as directly inspired by an illustration by David Johnson.

This was a character sketch of Oliver Twist. I'm currently working on an actual painted version of this. It's not an illustration so much as it is practice on my stylization. I'll post that painting as soon as it's done. Maybe tonight even.

Just a girl in a field with some dark figures surrounding her....don't really know where this was headed.

Here we have a little piggy ala Wilbur, but that's just a coincidence. I like piglets is all. I started a painted version of this but hated it so I will probably retry it someday.

Some character studies I did for Pinocchio...

This is a sketch for a spot illustration for Pinocchio.

Um, I guess this would be a knight and white horse near a pretty tree with a castle in the distance...I find this really boring, actually...
It needs some spice. Plus I think the colors are too cheery for the mood I originally wanted to give it.

I wanted to do this piece to continue exploring the theme of humanized animals and parental bonds, but I thought it wasn't really presenting much more than a cute-ified Corbis photo, so I put it on hold.

I guess this is my try at a cool old sea captain, but the picture isn't very narrative and he kind of looks like my dad, so I've not pursued this any further yet.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Finishing Touches

Ok, so I think I'm finally settled on this piece. Although I'd finished the painting of it a couple weeks ago, I was still unsatisfied with it. So I took it into Photoshop and tweaked it a bit to my liking. The original painting wasn't as luminous as it is now. I really wanted to add to the glow of the window, cool down the orange of the back wall, and darken the right side in general. So I did.
I think it was for the better.

So here goes:

What I like About It:I'm happy with my stylization of Pinocchio and Geppetto, and I like the color. I like the warm color scheme and my minimal use of green for extra flavor. I also like the moment that I chose to depict... a quiet, intimate moment between father and son, you could say. I'm also kind of happy that Geppetto turned out to somewhat resemble of my own dad (a carpenter). It made it more personal for me I guess, seeing as how my father had three daughters but no son.

What I'd Do Differently:Every piece is a learning experience, and with this piece I learned more about working with the acrylic on cold pressed illustration board. But I might like this piece more had I done it on gessoed board, with the swirly underpainting that I sometimes use. I just feel it needs some sort of underlying visual interest to really pull it together. I also wish that Geppetto felt less stiff, and more organic and natural. His arms are kind of posed and solid, and I think that if he were more loose than it would really make Pinocchio feel that much more wooden. Also, in my original sketch, Geppetto's expression bordered more on concentration and melancholy, and the final painting he's sort of smiley. I think I would like the tone more if he was a bit less happy and a bit more...something saddish.

Perhaps I'll do another from the story...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Jack & The Beanstalk: My Own Critique

Allright. Seeing as how I no longer have the ability to get feed back from peers and classmates, it's high time for my own reflection and self-critique about the Jack piece.

The Objective:
My goal for the piece was to really start exploring my own style, and how I would like to draw upon artists whose work I admire and reinvent my own style (some artists I had in mind were Brett Helquist, Mary Grand-Pre, Linda Wingerter, and Alison Jay, for everything from stylization to whimsy, to color) while at the same time draw upon classic stories and fairy tales. Basically I asked myself, "How do I want my Jack to look? What does my beanstalk look like? What sort of colors do I want to paint?" My secondary goal was to continue to work on cold-press illustration board with acrylic, and consider the under painting a bit more than I have been.

The Process:
With that I made my sketch straight from my imagination. Yes, I know. I only made one sketch. (I should have made multiple thumbnails and challenged myself to see how I could strengthen my composition, but alas. ) But at that point, I felt satisfied. So I took my sketch into Photoshop, laid in the colors, and printed it out. I made a pretty through drawing on the board, and then did a flat underpainting of different colors. For Jack, the beanstalk, and the ground, I used a very intense orange, so as to connect them all thematically. (Both Jack and the stalk are tied to the earth from which they came). The trees were painted a dark magenta, the clouds a lighter magenta, and the sky was left bare. Then I painted. For a long time.

The Evaluation:
Well, to begin with, I will say that the piece meets my expectations and falls short in various ways. Here's the break down:

What like about the final piece:
1. I like the clouds. At first, they were a very overwhelming almost graphic object in the painting, but I'm happy with the decisions I made in painting them back. It really seemed to give the whole painting more space. I also like the creamy colors rather than the pinkish ones I began with.
2. I like that I tried something new. I like my characterization of Jack, and I think if I keep pushing myself, I'll fall into a befitting style.
3. I like the overall color scheme. It feels different than anything I've done, and cohesive. I like the way it makes me feel when I see it.

What I would like to change or improve upon:
1. I definitely wish I had let the vibrant under painting show through more. I need to remember the delicate balance between clarifying and over working.
2. Even though I'm glad I tried it, I don't think I would so much outline the beanstalk and Jack with so uniform line weight as I did. I had to try it, but I don't really think it's helping.
3. I wish I had done a tonal under painting, and really worked our my darks and lights before getting right to the color. More planning in the beginning stages would have saved me from overworking the paint down the line.

So there it is. May it stand as a reminder to me as I move on to bigger and better things.
Please do leave feedback of your own, as it would be tremendously helpful.

Hope & Hopelessness: One girl's struggle to find her place in the illustration world

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Courtney Autumn Martin, and these are my thoughts.
I am a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, a lover of all things children's literature, an avid collector of children's books in all forms, and an aspiring children's illustrator.

Having now entered into the realm of the living, breathing, fully-functioning society that I had avoided for the years while working and studying in my cozy art-school bubble, I find myself completely devoid of artistic direction. In this first year since graduating, I am more confused than ever, bi-polar at times in both my optimism for the future and my overwhelming fears of inadequacy.

Some days, I wake up inspired, motivated, confident even. Fueled by all the wonderful work I see being made each day by illustrators across the globe. I might spend hours in the bookstore rifling through the children's section to find new works of wonder. I might even declare to myself, "Dammit Courtney, you can do it, too!" And resolve myself to finally taking those steps to send my work out to publishers, editors, art directors, and to finally start taking charge of my life.

But some days I wake up wishing that I hadn't gone to art school, that I had chosen a profession that was easier. Where you go to work 9-5 everyday and you come home and enjoy the rest of your life. Because with all my training, and wishing, and hoping, I worry that I'll never be as good as those that I admire. I look at all my favorite picture books and feel in my heart that my own visions will never make it onto the shelves into books with which other children will grow up.

But it is this fear that I hope to overcome. It is that fear that I shake off each day as I go to paint in my cold little studio in the basement. Because we all should have the opportunity to do what we want with our lives, especially when all the opportunities we have had up until now have made it possible.

Sometimes there is no excuse for fear and self-doubt.
Especially as so many others find a way to quiet those voices and make their wishes come true.
Ideally, I would love to reach some sort of self-acceptance, where I allow myself to be whoever it is I am. I would love to illustrate books, freelance as much as I can, and even write my own books (yeah, me and the rest of the world, I know). For a long while I've also entertained the idea of working for some of my most beloved publishing houses. Having a hand in the design and conception of children's books would be amazing. I love the book as an object of art itself. The concept, layout, text, book jacket, all coming together to create a rich experience. It wouldn't be a bad way to spend my days.

So, anyway. This is my blog. This is my outlet for posting new work and getting feedback.
The good, and the bad. I want it all. This is where I'll report my progress. This is where I'll turn my daydreams into words, and hopefully, reality.

Welcome to Slumberland By Day.