Life with two kids is crazy, I'm not gonna lie. But somehow I've felt a new burst of creativity in the last few weeks. Some timing, eh? But hey, I go with it. So amidst the craziness of dealing with a toddler and a newborn, I've made time for some much needed "me-time"... in the form of creating illustrations, of course.
I love the SVS Learn monthly contests but haven't participated in awhile. However, I couldn't resist February's prompt--"Octopus". I wasn't the only one--there were more entries last month than any other! So I was especially honored to have my piece place third.
I brainstormed (while nursing) until I found an idea simple iconic enough that I knew I could execute it on the first try, with a very simple composition and minimal detail. I love creating a nice detailed illustration (as my portfolio shows) but with what is currently going on in my life right now I knew that simple was the only way I could make this happen. We have an awesome claw-foot tub in our home that I've been wishing to take advantage of for awhile, combine that with the prompt, and you get...
Ironically, the time I could have used to take a bath instead went toward making this illustration. No regrets, I'm really pleased with how it came out.
Well, I finally got around to finalizing one of my other sketches of this character.
Keeping a character and style consistent is harder than it might seem! Especially since there were months between when I did these. I am catching tiny things to tweak even as I post this... so there will probably be updated versions of these in the future, when I get the last one done and I can edit all three side-by side. I hope to get the third image done soon... ish. Because life with a newborn makes getting things done... slow. And unpredictable. But very very satisfying.
Happy New Year!
Time flies, doesn’t it? So much happened this year!
But for me, illustrating a lot wasn’t one of them.
Going back and making a count, I only completed seven illustrations this year. Thats IT.
And that includes this one. Time for tea!
I wasn't quite as diligent at saving progress of the image as usual--though I did take a few quick snapshots and put them on Instagram as I worked. I really like having a nice progress slide show at the end, though, so next time I'll have to remember better.
I’m mostly pleased with how it came out. I’m glad I took the time to push through and get one more illustration done. I call myself an illustrator after all. For that to be true, I gotta, well… illustrate.
So, WHY didn’t I get much illustrating done this year? After all, a year is a long time. It’s 12 whole months… 52 weeks...365 days… plenty of time to draw, right?
Plenty of time, yes. But that means it's hard to hold it all in your head at once.
For example, this time last year we didn’t know we’d be moving in a few months--it was still a big “maybe-but-probably-not”. And, while I’m being honest, I’ll just add that we also weren’t planning on adding to our family quite yet. Toddler, house hunting, moving, pregnancy… that has been my year, and the toddler was the only one of those I saw coming.
So many things I THOUGHT I was going to get done this year… kind of got pushed aside. For example, this is the SECOND time I said, “I’m going to do a real postcard campaign, like a real illustrator, for real! See, I’m sending out a real postcard!” ...only to find out that I was pregnant a couple weeks after sending out the first card. Again. Which of course led to a lot of stopping and thinking and deciding (again)… this is not the right time for this after all. (It might have been nice to figure that out before sending out the card, but, well… life, amirite?)
So I’m approaching goals a bit differently this year.
I still believe setting goals is a good thing. However, based on my experience, as well as a lot reading and research I’ve been doing lately, I believe that setting goals for an entire year is just too much. Next December is just too far away right now for me to set a super specific goal--too much is going to happen between now and then. Of course there are always exceptions to this, but in general, yearly goals slip away from me (and most people) too easily.
So from now on, my specific goals will be done monthly and quarterly.
So, this quarter, Jan-Feb-March, my goal is this: have a baby and figure out being a mom of two, at least a little bit. I also want to get more MG/YA appropriate images in my portfolio, and nursing is GREAT reading time, so I will be reading some fun MG/YA while I’m stuck (happily) under an eating/sleeping/pooping baby.
(Speaking of--if you have recommendations for great MG/YA novels that have been published in the last few years, let me know in the comments! I have a bunch of great recommendations from friends on Facebook but more can’t be a bad thing.)
Looks like not much illustrating will be done this quarter… but I am OK with that. We’ll see where we're at next quarter.
Thats it. I have some very basic, general goals in mind for later quarters of the year, but we’ll deal with those as we get closer--they will probably change anyway.
Here I come, 2018.
I am still alive. And very pregnant. Which kind of makes things in general… difficult. To say the least. Along with the third trimester has come some understandable tiredness which has led to me napping every day while my toddler does. Which means that my prime time for Getting Stuff Done is now mostly going toward Getting Sleep Daily.
Which means I haven’t been updating my blog (or Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…. Etc.) much lately. But hey, baby takes precedence. And also me. I’m important too. And lets be honest, those naps are primarily for me (though they do give baby a chance to practice his gymnastics as well. So it’s a win win.)
So this may be the weirdest timing EVER, but…
I’ve decided to start a mailing list.... TA DA!!
Considering the opening paragraphs of this post, it kind of goes without saying that this will be an occasional email, just letting you know when I have a new project or blog post or illustration. I don’t anticipate landing in your inbox any more than a couple times a month.
Ok, you’re saying, that sounds fine, but why NOW? You are very pregnant and not working on anything much right now to send us emails ABOUT, right?
Coming up early next year (not long after this baby will probably be making his arrival) a comic anthology I created a piece for will be launching on Kickstarter. “SERVED” is a collection of short memoir comics by Returned LDS Missionaries about their missions, with a NON-spiritual angle—its just a bunch of us sharing a little piece of our experience, in a way that is hopefully accessible to both LDS and Non-LDS readers. My piece, for example, actually has very little to do with anything churchy or doctrinal, and instead focuses on the experience of making mistakes when learning a new language.
I think it’s a fun project and will be a fun book to read and own, and I’d love to have an easy way to let people know when it launches, how the campaign goes, etc. if they’re interested. A way like, say… an email list.
I also DO have some personal projects I’ve been slowly working on that I’d love to share thoughts and tidbits on as well. I have a dummy book I have been chipping away at for a few months that I’d like to turn my attention back to (when I’m not napping or chasing a toddler). People who follow my blog or Instagram have already seen the sketches for the main character, and its time to work on my other main character and work out more story details and such. I’d love to share about that process as well--obviously I can’t share the whole thing online, but people have responded positively to what I’ve shared so far, so again an email list is an easy way to let people know about that.
Also, a few weeks ago I had something of an epiphany. For years now, I’ve dreamed of teaching drawing and painting classes locally—GOOD ones, not the Paint-what-the-teacher-paints type of classes you see all over. I want to teach a class that imparts REAL drawing skills and leads to actual ORIGINAL artwork by the students. But I always made excuses to myself—I have nowhere to teach, I’m busy, and besides, nobody wants to listen to an unpublished no-name like me, blah blah blah.
And then it hit me. Who says I need to be published to be eligible to teach a class? I know great info, I have experience—I have a freaking DEGREE in this, for crying out loud! What is that degree for if not to proclaim me as Legit. So, I’m going to do it. Since our house is tiny, the plan is to teach the class through our local Continuing Education program—just like the classes I took as a teen that got me jump-started in oil painting. Despite them being a more paint-by-number sort of approach… oh dear. (My mom still has the horrible paintings I produced in that class. For some strange reason. I guess because she’s a mom.)
My hope is to equip my students to produce something more personal and original than I was able to do. I’ll be reading and writing and organizing in order to make this class happen in time for next fall semester. Mr. Perkins will be left with a toddler and a crawler one night a week so I can go do this. He’s pretty cool like that.
So, these are the sort of things that you’d be hearing about once or twice a month if you were to sign up for this list. If it sounds interesting, cool, stick your email in the form. If not, that’s cool too—I know how crowded everyone’s inboxes get, if mine is anything to judge by. Either way, thanks for reading. :-)
Finally--FINALLY--I have another completed illustration to post! Hurrah! Just in time to submit to the monthly SCBWI Draw This! Competition.
This month's prompt?
For this one I came back to a limited palette like I used for my Chanticleer image--but only three colors this time (Chanticleer had 5). Though sometimes I like having more colors, I am really loving the limited palette look and will definitely do more with it. Although I only used three colors (a dark purple-grey, a medium brown-grey, and yellow) layering them gave me a little bit more variety (the same as what I did in the Chanticleer image.)
As always, here is the progress slide show:
Well, we moved.
Which isn't to say that everything has been taken out of boxes now. Nope. There is definitely more progress to be made in that area. But this house is feeling more and more like a home, and we're figuring out how we want things to go here. It feels good.
And I'm finally finding time to get back to WORK again.
The dummy I mentioned in my last post has still been swimming around in my mind and I've even found moments to work on it. Over the last few weeks, I've worked on getting to know the main character. Here are a few quick snapshots of sketches that I grabbed from my phone:
Next step is to scan, fix, and create a final illustration of one or all of them. I think I want to put one on the back of my next post card. Which one should it be?
Seeing that it's been over a month since I've managed to post here, this won't be a surprise to anyone reading this: I'm taking a break.
Why? Well, this morning we bought a house. Our first! We're so excited. It's a beautiful little cottage built in 1900 (no joke!) and now it's ours. And its time to move. And I have a toddler, and other things going on.
This doesn't change the fact that I've started work on a dummy that I think will be my best story yet (I always think THIS one will be the best yet, but its true!) And that I still plan to meet my goal of 3 postcards out this year, and also the need to update my portfolio (always, always, always. Sigh.) But, these things arent' going to happen in June, or even in July. I am taking a break, to (hopefully) come back with renewed focus and creativity.
I have posted this before, but I still love this quote so here it is again:
So, I'm embarking on a mini-creative-winter this summer. I will still read, and doodle, and imagine, but I won't push myself to get art done. Moving+toddler is enough.
See you in August.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get a critique from the awesome illustrator Will Terry. You can watch it here:
Since the video was posted, I've really wanted to get back to my tortoise piece and make some edits.
And then, life.
Long story short: I have a toddler and we are in the midst of buying our first home. (All two people who regularly read this blog already knew that, thus the lack of post explaining what was going on ;-) So, I found a few little chunks of time where I was able to do a little editing on the piece, but I was only able to make two of the three suggested changes. This was a couple weeks ago, and I kept delaying posting it, thinking that I would finally find time to make the last change, but I'm realizing that with everything going on right now, I won't be able to get to it for weeks. The tail in the foreground to this second remains untouched. So, I'm going to post what I have, and then once I make final edits in a few days/weeks/months/centuries I can post then too.
I posted the edited piece on the SVS forums and the changes were met with mixed reception. Several people admitted that they really liked the original piece and felt that it looked more like the way an actual tortoise walked. Others pointed out that the way a tortoise actually walks looks really strange to those not familiar with it, so the edited version *seems* more correct even though it isn't.
As for me, I like things about both. It's a cop-out answer, but as the artist I can't look at them without bias and I can't really choose between them. I'm not sure there is a good happy medium between the two, you just have to make a choice--would you like something truer to nature that might seem wrong to some viewers, OR, would you like something that *looks* right to people but actually isn't? Were this a real assignment, I think that is a choice the Art Director / Client would have to make, because there is no one right answer and, as the artist, I see merit in both.
This was a great (if still incomplete) exercise in taking suggestions/criticism and applying them to a piece. It was also encouraging to see that my crazy many-layered illustrator files are actually not that difficult to dive back into and make edits to the right paths--all that effort at layer organization was successful!
But, back to our main topic. I'm curious:
Which piece to you prefer, and why?
With one more completed illustration, my Friendly Monsters dummy is complete! Just in time for the #pbpitch party on twitter tomorrow... nothing may come of it, but then again, something might!
I left the text/speech bubbles off of this one. What do YOU think they are saying?
Theres someone I'd like you to meet--or should I say, someones.
These are the friendly monsters! (If you follow my instagram, you've already met them :-) They star in my latest picture book dummy. This is one of those ideas that hit at 4am (I was up thanks to a hungry baby) and just WOULDN'T LEAVE ME ALONE until I put it on paper. I jotted down a few lines and then was finally able to get a bit of sleep.
The first draft came out pretty easily. I let it sit, did some edits, and then I sent it off to a few different friends (and the 12x12 community) to get feedback. I love having different places to get feedback from, because I feel that when I just get it from one critique group they hear the first person's comments and then everyone just ends up agreeing with that person--not always, but fairly frequently. I like having different places to get feedback so people are thinking up their comments independently--I feel they're more helpful that way.
I don't know where I first heard this thought on critique, but its something I generally live by: If one person tells you something, its an opinion and you can ignore it if you choose. If two or more tell you independently that it is a problem (not just critique group partners chiming in, people critiquing who don't have any access to the comments of the other) then it is something you need to take a look at.
In the case of this story, having multiple critiques... didn't backfire, per se, but it did give me directly contradicting advice. From one friend, "There is too much X! I think you should take out X completely." From another "The X is nice, but I think you need even MORE X."
Oh, the joys of navigating critiques. I've at least got plenty to think about with this story, and I'll do my best to be true to what I loved about that idea at 4am.
As far as the art goes, I'm trying a slightly different style here, and LOVING it. Seriously, why didn't I try working this way before! I'm still using my cutaway linocut vector process, but really minimizing the linework. Instead of starting with the lines and then filling in the shapes and colors, I'm starting with the big shapes and adding lines only where necessary to define the form. I'm using the shadow layer to create texture instead of the line layer as I usually do. I really like how it came out. I think I'll definitely still do linework-based illustrations, but I want to do more of this approach as well.
As usual, progress images of how this one came together. What do you think?
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