Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Continuing with "Two-Question Tuesday", in which I post and answer two questions each week, one pulled from some of the actual questions I've received over the years, the other a playful question I ask myself. I hope they provide a bit of insight into who I am and how (and why) I do what I do!

If you have a question you'd like to ask me, post it as a comment below and I will answer it in a future post.

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Q1: What artists influence you?

I am a great appreciator of the work of many children's illustrators, although I don't actively try (or succeed) at making work anything like theirs. Instead, I admire their work because it looks like they sincerely enjoy their process. They are consistent in their dedication to quality and their craft, whatever their medium of choice. Most of my favorite illustrators have a recognizable, characteristic style that makes their work easily identifiable. Some of my favorites are Mary GrandPré, Linda Wingerter, Cory Godbey, Brett Helquist, Brian Selznick, Tony DiTerlizzi, Rebecca Guay, and Aaron Becker (just to name a few). If you know their work you'll probably notice that they all have distinctly different styles from each other and from my own work.

By looking at these artists' images, I absorb valuable insights that I hope to someday be able to bring to my own art---insights into color, composition, lighting, character, style, etc. Qualities like strong drawing skills (good anatomy or intentionally stylized figures), use of interesting perspectives, dynamic environments, looseness of lines, use of expressive, dynamic shapes, and a sense of gesture and movement are all evident in the illustrations that strongly appeal to me (in contrast to my own work, which all-too often tends to become stiff and overworked). There is much to be learned from the artists I admire. 

Most important of all, my favorite artists remind me to enjoy myself, to work hard, and create with authentic passion. They're all so good at being themselves that I'm reminded to be myself, too (whatever that may be). Their techniques and processes encourage me to try something new, loosen up, and be playful. Their work compels me to continue to hone my drawing skills so that I can draw realistically when I need to AND be expressive when I want to.

Ancora imparo!

Q2: Are you obsessed with space, and why is the answer YES?

Our solar system, exoplanets, the galaxy, and the entire universe has been and will forever be a topic for me which inspires true AWE. Contemplating space used to leave me boggled and afraid. Afraid of what is out there, afraid of what we don't know, and afraid we'll never know enough to satisfy my own curiosity. Apart from my creative projects, the pursuit of space related topics has been filling ALL of my free time for the last year and a half. I've read non-fiction (several of Carl Sagan's books), fiction (The Martian was a particular favorite this year), sci-fi comic books and classic novels, not to mention watched countless documentaries and educational videos. I'm discovering more and more my passion for topics like cosmology, astrophysics, and astrobiology. (If I hadn't been scared away from studying science in my youth, I suspect I would have loved stellar spectroscopy.)

I've always been dissatisfied with the sub par science education I received in school, and up until last year I'd spent most of my life avoiding heavy science topics altogether because I was intimidated by how stupid I felt trying to navigate it all. But I'm making up for lost time by throwing myself into it now, at age 30, with a level of passion and enthusiasm I've only ever experienced inside the art-making realm.

So YES. I am obsessed with space, that wondrous, fascinating and overwhelming place of which we human beings have the privilege to be a very small part. Sometimes I wonder if anything besides the study of the universe really matters at all...

Did you watch the Orion test flight last week? Are you following the New Horizons mission? There is so much happening right now--- it's a very exciting time to be a space enthusiast!

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