Monday, November 26, 2007


Very quickly in the midst of finishing up the color guides and begining work on my new and very exciting project, I was commissioned to do a drawing of the Veterinary Clinic where my sister, Amber, works as a Christmas gift to the owners. It's been a long time since I was asked to do a simple black and white drawing, but it felt pretty good to be able to take a day and do it.

Now on to an intense, terrifying, and exciting next two months. Eep!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Red Farm Studio

I've been enjoying myself creating the pencil drawings and color guides for children's paintable sets produced by Red Farm Studio. I was hired to create this "Beach Buddies" series about kids and animals at the beach.

It was quite fun to do and hopefully someday I'll get to do some more--maybe even exclusively animals! In addition to that, I was also hired to do the coloring of another artists drawings, a Seabirds series and a Four Seasons series. I've never before colored someone else's work but I must say it was kind of fun! Strange that I can get paid to do work that I did as a kid with a coloring book and crayons-- only with a computer and drawing tablet!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chalk Penguins

Oh, the Providence Street Painting Festival. My first year competing, and my second year of attendance. It really is a unique experience, but one I'm not entirely sure I'll do again anytime soon. On September 28th, artists of all ages and places came together to create works of chalk to help raise money and compete for prizes. It's a day of hard work, mixed with plenty of visiting with friends, and good fun for a good cause. I chose to adapt my illustration of three emperor penguins for my drawing.

The highlights of the day were as follows:
  • Getting upgraded from my assigned 4x4 foot square to an 8x8 foot square that was in very close proximity to Adam's.
  • Seeing Greg and getting an awesome t-shirt that he made for free.
  • The many compliments from strangers as I worked.
  • A girl from Brown Radio recording the sound of my chalk.
  • Having my picture taken as I worked by a guy from the Providence Journal.
  • Cute little kids running up to my picture saying things like "it's Happy Feet!" (which it wasn't), or "PENGUINS!"
  • The little boy who made my day by asking me for my autograph.
  • Having my bucket filled with a hefty amount of tokens.
  • Casey, Ayla, Greg, Adam, and Mike all winning prizes!

The downside to the day was being covered in black chalk from head to toe, bleeding fingers, and finger nails filed into points from the friction as I worked. Also not so fun was the next day, when I could barely move because I had inadvertently become a gymnast while I was working on the damn thing. Oops. Note to self: Stretch before dong something like this. Also, being on concrete and walking around the city for 12 hours does a number on your legs. I'm still recovering.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Creativity Feels Pretty Good

After a rather extensive stay in the creative doldrums of the world that is my life, I actually completed a couple of small illustration projects. The first was an illustration for Stories For Children Magazine, an online publication with fictional stories for kids and teens. I was assigned a story geared to the older audience, entitled "Grandpa's Vegetable Habit," about a boy who's grandfather inadvertently embarrasses his grandson by packing him lunches made of vegetable animals.

For this illustration, I actually ended up working exclusively in my sketchbook. I started the drawing in my recycled brown paper sketchbook and decided to add some acrylic paint, and then just continued working on it until it became the final piece. This seems a good method for me because it restrains me from taking anything too seriously or being too critical and too controlled. I always stiffen up when I go from sketch to finish, but I feel more daring when I work in my little book. So here it is: Lunch Bunnies.

I really enjoyed working on this, having been able to read the story and choose what I wanted to represent. It finally felt like a real illustration assignment-- which is what I really need. I hate not being told what to do--- ever. I like this new found freedom from classes and all, but if I'm going to ever feel like an illustrator someday, I need assignments! But I also had fun making this piece because I had company in my studio. Adam came to visit me for the weekend and it was a nice change to share a creative space again, and to be able to bounce feedback to one another as we both worked on our respective projects. I can not wait until we finally have an apartment. Because as much as people say that two illustrators can't survive in a relationship together, with us, it seems that we do really well to inspire and motivate and encourage-- which makes the very intimidating world of freelance a lot easier to handle.

Then next endeavor was a personal project, an illustration for the Children's Illustrator group on deviantART. The monthly topic was circus, and considering circuses and carnivals are two of my favorite subjects, I knew I'd kick myself if I missed the chance to participate. So I worked for a couple of nights on this, Elephant's Flying Circus.

I also began this illustration in my sketchbook, but then scanned the painting and continued to work digitally until it was finished. I'd say it is now about 70% digital. I would have liked to do more with it, but I was pressed for time and I really need to focus on my first real freelance project, which is due Mid October. But before that, I will be participating in the Providence Street Painting Festival this Saturday, and I am really excited as it is my first time, and it should be a good deal of fun! I have a small 4x4 square, but hopefully it will go allright!

Mmmm. It does feel good to be more productive than usual!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Little Studio

This is my second home.

When I'm not parked in front of the computer wasting time, this is where I go-- to my little studio in the basement. Complete with a wall of inspiration, fairy lights, stereo, dvd player, and every art supply I could need at easy access.

Not too bad a space for creating, if I do say so myself.

Here's what I just finished:

A 10x13" painting commissioned by The Noah Webster House/ West Hartford Historical Society for their upcoming October event, "Hauntings." It was fun. I got to paint the grim reaper.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New stuffs

Just a few things I've been up to recently...

The Goldfish Tree: My submission for July's Topic, Odd Forest, from the Children's Illustrator Group on deviantART. Done in acrylic and Photoshop.

A painting of a little piggy, done in acrylic.

A drawing of Harry Potter, maybe in his 5th year....

A quick sketch of the Harry Potter trio.

Illustration Friday- Moon

"By Moonlight," 2007.

One from a little while back, originally done as a small oil painting, then scanned and tweaked in Photoshop. Submitted to Illustration Friday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For my sister

I just finished this painting of my sister's cat, Wyatt, as commissioned by the veterinary clinic where she works as a going away gift. It was done in a acrylic on gessoed illustration board, 11.5" square. I enjoyed painting it in continuation with the other two cat paintings I did for her these past months. I just hope she likes it as well!

I do enjoy doing these realistic animal portraits, and would love to get more work like this. But I definitely consider it to be very different than my illustration work. In that respect I want to get away from realism and explore my stylization of animals...
'Til next time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

For Mom

I spent last night and a bit of this morning painting this for my mom, for mommy's day. It is of our five family cats (Nemo, Gia, Ollie, Jimmy, And Moo-Moo) a.k.a. her other five children.
I love it when our cats do that silly "chicken" pose, so I decided to line them up and put them in a chicken coup-like environment. I'm posting this not because I want a critique but just because it's new and it's art and I'm just glad I did something. And honestly, it made me happy to make this for my mom, because there was absolutely no pressure. Yes, I wanted her to like it, but she's my number one supporter and just about any art from her daughter is appreciated. And I'm proud to say it made her very happy... So here it is, I give you: "Rulers of the Roost."

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.