Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WINTER DEER



A few weeks ago Adam and I were driving on the highway during late afternoon the day after a snowstorm. I always love to scan the trees looking for deer while we drive and thanks to the bright white snow, I had no trouble spotting a large female laying comfortably, enjoying the view of passing cars. I kept it in mind to make a piece inspired by that moment. Here is a quick limited palette color block sketch interpretation.

Monday, January 19, 2015

THE TIME HAS COME

Life update: My second niece joined Planet Earth on January 10th! I was there for her arrival and it was one of the more memorable moments of my life, that's for sure! I love being an aunt and can't wait to get to know little Ellery as well as I do her big sister, Nora. They are my little loves.


Career update: Last week I wrapped up my latest illustration job and last night I came to a big decision. 

After a lot of anguished discussions with Adam about my illustration career and my unhappiness with it, I've decided go on hiatus from freelancing. It's been a struggle to do work I'm not happy with just for the paycheck that comes some months later. I'm finally able to articulate that I don't want to be a children's illustrator. I want to be a children's book illustrator, which in practice is a world of difference. Ever since educational work became the only arena in which I get work, my career is not what or where I want it to be. It's completely lacking in my own ideas, my enthusiasm, my creativity, my personality, my problem solving skills, my passion. Ultimately: me.

My love for this line of work comes from a love of books and stories---not from a love of drawing or digital painting, or from quick deadlines and being told what to do. Today, my illustration career is an assembly line of detailed directions, dictated compositions, required elements down to each detail---sometimes rough sketches are even worked out for me beforehand. I find it a stifling, creativity-killing process from which I desperately want to distance myself. The problem is that I have been stuck in a cycle: I take a break from freelancing, but then want some money, so I take freelance job, but hate the work, I get bummed out, and take a break from freelancing. On and on for the last few years. And between gigs I'm left with such detest for my own work that I don't even try do work for myself in the downtime. I'm forgetting what it's like to like illustrating. 

I am in a hugely fortunate position which allows me not to have to make a living at illustrating (thanks, Adam!). I get to do it because it is something I enjoy. Which is why I think it's counterintuitive to keep taking on work that I do not enjoy doing. Sure, the money is nice when it comes along but that's not good enough anymore. I want to work in the children's industry because I want to have a hand in telling stories. I don't know if I'm a writer or an illustrator (or both), or if perhaps I just really love books. I simply don't know, but I do know it is time I figured it out. 

I want 2015 to be a year filled with experimentation, exploration, and hard work. I want to make work that challenges me, pushes me, and excites me. 

I'm ready. I've been ready. 
Now I have to prove it. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

TWO QUESTION TUESDAY: WEEK 6

Happy New Year! Here's hoping your 2015 is off to a swell start.
(No baby yet for my sister, but I guess that just means we're one day closer...right?)

While I continue to wait around for THE CALL/THE TEXT, I'll stop checking my phone every thirty seconds and write a brief "Two-Question Tuesday" to ring in the new year. I'm not sure if I'll continue on with this series over the next few weeks as I'll be busy working to complete my current freelance project. But in the event that you have a question you'd like to ask me, post it as a comment below and I will be sure to answer in a future post. Cheers!

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Have you ever thought about writing and illustrating your own books?

Have I ever! Every. Single. Day.
Although I'm only formally trained as a children's illustrator, writing books is THE ultimate career goal in the back of my mind. I don’t think I’ll be satisfied by only ever illustrating another author’s words. When I read a good book, (be it a picture book, graphic novel, YA series, or otherwise) I can't help but have a deeply resonating gut reaction that says "I want to do this." Books are my everything. I have no idea if I'll be good at it. But I'm sure as heck going to try. In the words of Rumi:
"Let yourself be drawn by the strange pull of what you love. It will not lead you astray." 

What are you reading these days?

I spent several hours of my vacation completely immersed in Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. I ordered it as soon as I read about it back in September, but had put off reading it so I could enjoy it leisurely and with undivided attention as my Official Book of Christmas Break. And after looking forward to it so much, it did not disappoint, it impressed. A pandemic, societal collapse, theater, art, science fiction comics, beauty, tragedy, humanity, chock full of elegant reflections on the ephemeral nature of the commonplace---it was depressing, haunting, and invigorating. I loved every word and did not want it to end. But alas. All good things must come to an 

One of my favorite passages:
“Jeevan found himself thinking about how human the city is, how human everything is. We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt. No one delivers fuel to the gas stations or the airports. Cars are stranded. Airplanes cannot fly. Trucks remain at their points of origin. Food never reaches the cities; grocery stores close. Businesses are locked and then looted. No one comes to work at the power plants or the substations, no one removes fallen trees from electrical lines. Jeevan was standing by the window when the lights went out.”

There are so many apocalyptic stories (don't get me wrong, I LOVE APOCALYPTIC STORIES), but it was refreshing to encounter one that offered beauty and hope along with its healthy dose of tragedy and humbling perspective. I may have to reread this again very soon.