Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: Year in Review

All in a year's work. Excited to see what 2012 will bring!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas is coming...

It's going to be a busy week for me as I attempt to complete all my current freelance obligations before Christmas. I really want to be able to take some time off to enjoy the week between the 24th to January 2nd with my husband who will be on vacation from his job at 38 Studios.

That means completing 3 illustrations, five sketches, and one optional promo piece all within the next 8 days.

Not sure if it can be done, but I'm sure as heck going to try. Luckily I have until January 6th to wrap up this Rabbit and Coyote tale which is more than enough time for work and play.

And this Christmas promo is on the back burner (hopefully to get picked up again on Sunday).
I may go with a different image based on how much time I have to get it done.

Monday, November 7, 2011

An ArtFULL Weekend

Yesterday (Sunday, November 6th) was a pretty GREAT day, I gotta say. Not only was it the anniversary of the day Adam and I started our relationship 6 years ago, but it was also my grandmother's birthday, a day of setting the clocks back, AND a beautiful day for a trip to Amherst and Northampton!

Adam and I drove up/over to the Western Mass with my sister Brittany and her boyfriend Matt, and met up with our friend Bonnie at The Eric Carle Picture Book Museum. As always, we had our fun in the book shop but the highlight of the museum was hands down the showcase of Barbara McClintock's amazingly beautiful pen and ink drawings from 1988's now out of print The Heartaches of a French Cat.

One of the most affecting aspects of the showcase was seeing five different color variations of the spread shown below. Each of the iterations' color and value differed greatly and impacted the readability of the scene. The final artwork was clearly an improvement over the first four approaches. And although I don't have the others versions to show you, it's worth mentioning just to serve as a reminder that it's unrealistic to assume that even highly experienced and skilled illustrators get everything right in the first pass. Time for revisions, tweaking, and experimenting needs to be allotted. Practice definitely makes perfect. 

Also on exhibit was the work of Jules Feiffer. It was nice to see some of his earlier work on display including those from The Phantom Tollbooth. I'm finding it difficult to say many good things about the entire show simply because I'm rather torn about it. I get that the success of his work hinges on capturing the simplicity of the gesture. I get that there is an energetic immediacy to the way his drawings are created. I get that it must take a lot of control to appear so loose. And I like that.

That being said, I just can't seem to embrace some of his later work. His black ink line work is still going strong but his color is generally messy, ugly, and sometimes right out of the tube. The value in his black and white paintings is muddy. I feel like I'm missing some key element to appreciating his work. 

I honestly respect every human being's right to create whatever art they please, in whatever manner they please. Art rules are arbitrary and can be broken successfully any time. But what I don't quite grasp is why we revere certain pieces of art or their creators. Why we put some artwork on pedestals. Everyone likes what they like, and I'm all for that. I know what I like, though I can't always articulate WHY I like what I like. But if, on occasion, I also know what I don't like, I hope that doesn't make me a terrible person or a disrespectful artist or worse---a shallow, ignorant art critic. Because really, who am I to judge? I'm no one. I know nothing. 

I must also remind myself that I am subjectively evaluating these images out of context. I have not read all of Jules Feiffer's books and thus don't have the story to affect my encounter with the artwork alone. 

But all I keep thinking in the dark corner of my mind is that realistically, if I or any one of my classmates at RISD had brought in a final illustration that looked like this, I doubt it would have made it through the critique unscathed. And yet here it is, nicely framed and hanging on a wall in a museum, making me feel bad for not seeing the genius of it. 

Ok. On to the next part of the day! 
The Opening Reception for R. Michelson's 22nd Annual Children's Illustration in Northampton.

We were all very excited to see work by some of our favorite illustrators, and we were not disappointed.  Highlights for me included seeing the beautiful oil paintings of  Kadir Nelson and Rebecca Guay in person. 

Kadir Nelson's technique and skill is eye popping, and seeing it reproduced in his books is nothing compared to seeing the actual paintings. Oil paint just glows right of the paper. Both his bold, bright colors and more subtle, limited paletts are beautiful, as is his thin to thick application of the paint. His use of lights and darks and profile/silhouetted shapes are very effective in creating interesting compostions. 

Rebecca Guay's work is beautiful and elegant and romantic. I love the looseness of her pencil drawing that peeks through the final layers of paint. I love the glow of her whites and her color palette--particularly her use of turquoise/blues/greens. Her stylization of faces is also one of my favorite things about her. Her people are always beautiful or handsome. She is perfectly suited for the types of stories and books and art she is hired to create---there is drama, grace, fantasy, magic, mythic and fable-like qualities to all that she does.  And what she does, she does very well.

A few images from her graphic novel collaboration with Jane Yolen were on display and were some of my favorites from the evening.

My favorite piece from the entire day had to be her large oil painting of Cupid and Psyche. Photos simply can't do it justice. GORGEOUS. 

Both Rebecca and Kadir's work really makes me itch to use oil paint. In my opinion I find it easier to handle than acrylic, and there's no doubt about the richness and blend-ability of the medium. Unfortunately the type of work I do is so fast paced I'd never be able to pull it off professionally. I can start painting things in oil just for myself but in in my past experiences I've reacted with swollen throat glands when using it for long periods of time. Hmmm. 

I was hoping to see some original paintings from Tony Diterlizzi on display but was disappointed to find that only a few prints of his were hanging. Sadface! They're still great, but I want to see the real thing.

Luckily there was plenty to see besides! Here are a few snippets of the other pieces I enjoyed:

Tomie dePaola
(this is not the image I wanted to post but I can't find the right one).

Mo Willems

John Bemelmans Marciano 

Wendall Minor

Scott Fischer 

Ron Mazellan

Neil Waldman 
(his hatchet cover was beautiful. Wish I had a shot of just the art.)

Ruth Sanderson

Jon J. Muth

The show was worth the 90 minute drive, and I'm glad we were able to make the trip. I feel very fortunate that such a strong illustration community is relatively close by. It's great to see people of all ages there to support these talented artists, and it was super inspiring to see their work in person. 
ART makes me HAPPY.

Also, I REALLY wish that we lived in Amherst or Northampton. It's such an awesome place! 
Sigh. Maybe someday.....

Saturday, October 29, 2011

From Doodles to Dollars...

I haven't had much in the way of spare time recently (who does, really?) but I find that when I have a great deal of work to do, I am also at my most productive. What I mean to say is that by having multiple projects going at once, be it freelance work, my own work, or my part time job, I am able to accomplish so much more. I can spend some time on one thing and then when I lose focus or get bored I can take a break and work on something else until I'm eager to get back to the other thing.

Recently I've really started taking my DoodlePaintings more seriously and have not only been producing more and more frequently but I have also begun working on their presentation. They have their own website, their own business card, and a shop on Etsy. I'm not sure whether I'll ever actually sell any online but matting them and putting them all in cellophane bags makes it seem so much more realistic. One day I hope to be able to sell them at art shows and craft fairs and that sort of thing, but in the meantime at least they're ready to go!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

By the Light of the Witchy Moon

Even though I have way to much work to get done between now and November 9th, I really wanted to make a Halloween themed illustration, because I LOVE HALLOWEEN. This composition is inspired/appropriated by vintage '30s Halloween imagery that I absolutely adore. But the cat eyed glasses and kitten with goggles are all mine.

Here's the accompanying poem that I also lifted from a vintage postcard:

When the world
is wrapped in slumber,
And the moon is sailing high,
If you peep between the curtains 
You’ll see witches riding by. 

I hope I get the chance to finish this before Halloween.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Waiting Game

Did I mention I have a love-hate-relationship with that waiting period in between submitting sketches and receiving feedback? On one hand, it means I can do whatever I want with my time guilt-free, but on the other hand it means the project is left hanging over my head---causing tiny amounts of stress until I finally finish the work.

Such has been the last three weeks. Originally I anticipated getting feedback for my current project within a week. But it's now WEEKS later and I have no idea when I'm going to hear back which stinks. As a freelancer, you don't get paid until the job is done and now we're almost a month behind schedule. I just can't seem to make any money at this! Grrrr.

Anyway, here is a sampling of the sketches for the current gig.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Illustration Friday: Mesmerizing

An old one, but I thought this might suit this week's theme. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Doodle Me This

Spent my Sunday afternoon doodling away at my mother-in-law's while watching "Magic Beyond Words," the Lifetime movie about J.K. Rowling. At least I made those two hours worthwhile.

Here's "Houdini." This original is available to purchase in my Etsy store.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Best Day Ever!

Well, maybe not the best day EVER, but it was pretty great overall. Another super productive day. I managed to squeaky clean the entire house while at the same time tending to an unexpected assignment. I received an email from my agent this morning asking if I could step in for another artist and complete a rush job (sketch needed by tomorrow) for an illustration for McGraw-Hill. I quickly looked at the specs and couldn't believe they were asking for a full-page illustration to accompany (presumably a textbook  re-printing) of Kate Dicamillo's The Magician's Elephant---one of my FAVORITE books...EVER!

I immediately replied saying YES YES YES I will gladly take on the rush job (one of the best assignments I've gotten to date, even if I wasn't the original choice illustrator). And I quickly got to work sketching out the image to the specs they requested. They were pretty concrete on what they wanted (falling elephant, red tent, fortune teller combined whimsically) so I gave it my best shot while adhering to their vision. It may not be how I would have approached it given free reign but I made do.

Personally I feel both honored and completely nervous to have the opportunity to make an image that will accompany this story, even if it is just in an educational textbook or wherever it's going to end up. The published book is perfect in every way, including the beautiful emotive and atmospheric illustrations by Yoko Tanaka. But I'll gladly take the chance anyway. :D


It's amazing that some whole days are spent wasting EVERY minute while others can be so productive! Yesterday I awoke with the overwhelming desire to begin multiple doodle paintings simultaneously in an attempt to curb the extreme inactivity that has permeated most of my summer. It's interesting that when I have no work to do I end up doing NOTHING with my free time, but when I have a full plate I'm totally focused. Taking a break from illustrating and spending the day doodling worked in my favor. I started five separate smallish pieces, and finished two by the end of the night. All original doodle paintings, including these, are now available on my Etsy shop!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Years Vacation Sketches

Actually did some work today. I've been struggling to get into a productive mode lately but remarkably managed to focus for a few hours this afternoon and got something accomplished. I'm approaching these by creating loose value compositions first which I will then use to create the final images in black and white. Once fully rendered I plan to colorize them. It's my hope that by solidifying my values initially I will putz around less when it comes to the color, thus shaving off a bit of time on a project that isn't paying a ton.