This is a project I've been meaning to do for YEARS. Book covers for my favorite book series. I'm going to reminisce about my experience of the books too, because this is my blog and I can.
I first started reading the series in late 2006, my senior year of highschool. I was getting large stacks of books from the library for a couple weeks at a time and working my way though the stack before returning for a new stack. I was somewhat active in an online book community called Readerville, where a book called The Thief was suggested. I picked it up on my next library trip.
So I checked out The Thief and liked it Ok... well, mostly. To be completely honest, the ending made me angry. To avoid spoilers I won't say why, but I felt at the time there was inadequate foreshadowing. Silly me--I have since re-read it more times than I know, and the book is positively dripping with foreshadowing of the sneakiest sort. Needless to say, its a book I enjoyed more upon re-reading, since I then got to be in on the joke--especially the ending.
It was a few weeks before I got back to the library and checked out the Queen of Attolia. I have clearer memories of reading this book--its a hard one to forget. The first few chapters can be tough to get through. I remember, however, reading a particular scene in the middle of a book where things start to take a more positive turn. Not having expected this from how the book had been going up to that point, I laughed out loud.
This is a problem because I was reading it while in the audience of a choir concert. Oops.
It was a concert where several highschool choirs all come together and took turns performing for each other... I had to be there, but I didn't think quietly reading would be a problem. My bad. My choir teacher came by to jokingly but clearly tell me to NOT laugh any more. 😅
Not long after my family went on a road trip, and I finished the book on the road. Oddly, I don't have a clear memory of how I felt reading the later part of that book, though I remember reading while driving. I know I liked it.
And then I lost it.
I have never before or since lost a library book.
I was SO upset with myself.
I decided to myself that, as penance, I would not be allowed to check out the next book in the series until I found the book.
I never found it.
Months later, I knew it was gone for good and I finally checked out the next book.
The King of Attolia.
AND MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER.
I was absolutely and completely besotted, twitterpated, ENAMORED with this book.
After I first finished reading it, I was still so in love with the book and caught up in it's world and characters that I wasn't ready to move on. It was July at this point, so I had no school or homework to distract me. So, I did the only logical thing to be done at that point.
I read the book 5 times in a week.
I loved the book SO MUCH it drove me CRAZY that I didn't know anyone that I could TALK TO about HOW GOOD IT WAS.
Enter the internet, and the Sounis lovejournal community.
Y'all are the best.
We discussed every little piece of these books, and other books we loved. Howl's Moving Castle, To Say Nothing of the Dog, the Vorkosigan Saga, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the Temeraire Series and many others were also favorites of many other Sounisians (as we called ourselves). I was able to meet a few Sounisians in person, and go with them to meet MWT in person more than once.
I got a job in the bookstore, and was therefore able to snag an ARC of the next book before it released, and then share it with the Sounis friends who lived near me.
BUT WHERE WAS COSTIS. ("Younger version of Teleus? No sense of humor?" "The same.")
Costis was off being awesome, as Kamet was able to tell us a few years later. It was worth the wait.
I was Very Pregnant, working on buying our first home and (of course) moving while also chasing down an 18 month old around the time this book came out, so I wasn't participating as much in the fandom as I had been when I was merely a very busy college student. (I thought I knew what Very Busy was before becoming a parent. I laugh at my past self.) I recently made time to listen to it again as an audiobook and found it even more delightful.
They say you need to put in your portfolio what you want people to hire you for. So, for years I wanted to make covers for the most awesome books ever, because I want to be hired to make covers for the most awesome books ever. So here they are. Want to hire me?
I do plan to make one more in the very near future. I can't wait. It's gonna be purple 😉
And I just have to say, the dedication of Return of the Thief still gets me teary-eyed when I think about it.
If you've read the books... which cover is your favorite?
If you haven't... what are you still doing here???
Here is a video of my process of drawing my three sea creatures images, along with some of my ramble-y thoughts on sketchbooks.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Rome! We only had a couple days there (the rest of our time was spent in Sicily for my little sisters wedding) but we managed to see a few of the big sites there. The Colosseum was cool, and gelato is delicious, but my favorite thing I experienced in Rome was a certain mosaic floor in a certain room in the maze that is the Vatican Museum.
I was so mesmerized and occupied with trying to quickly snap a picture when people moved off of them that I got separated from my family 😆. I had to pay for phone service for the day so I could find them. It was worth it though.
On the plane home I tried doodling my own mythical sea creatures inspired by the ones in the mosaic. Each of them was mostly based on a specific one of the creatures in my photos, though I did my own spin on it. See if you can tell which drawing was inspired by which mosaic creature...
The first one:
Since that one looked slightly sinister, I wanted the next one to be a little more benign:
And since I like things that come in threes, I decided to do a third one when I got home. This one gave me some trouble before I worked out something that I liked:
I imagine them being displayed on a wall in a row, like this:
Soon I want to get a video together of my process on each of these images, but with the NY SCBWI conference coming up it might be a few weeks until I get to that.
Which of the three is your favorite?
This year, I finally put together an entry for the Narrative Art Award! I've wanted to in previous years and then life happens and it didn't get done... but this year I made it happen!
This video shows the ENTIRE proces, from bad ideas and ugly sketches to final art work. I hope you see something interesting or helpful here. Enjoy:
Recently I've seen this #DecadeOfArt or #ArtImprovement meme going around, and thought I'd try it out. It's really interesting to see my art over time, and see pieces in the (Approximate) order I created them in.
I have to say that I am SO GLAD that 2012-2013 me took the time to experiment. As a senior majoring in Illustration, there was definitely a lot of pressure to commit to a style. My supervisor and teachers made comments about how I would need a consistent portfolio to get hired.
And then I interviewed at Cricut, and having a portfolio that consisted of many SETS of images, each set in a different style, is what got me hired. (Well, that and the fact that I was working competently with vectors.)
And that experimenting with styles is what eventually let me land on the style I use now. There's been an itch in the back of my brain saying, don't you want to try something new? But then I start a new piece and I can't wait to get to the "cutting out" stage, which is where the magic textures start to happen, and I know I'm pretty happy with the process I use now. While I definitely will continue to experiment and push myself, I know that I've found something that works for me... because I didn't commit too soon to a style.
Today was a SNOW DAY! We have about THREE FEET of snow covering our yard... and cars... and house. Which is a problem for tomorrow morning!
Since snow is really here, I thought it would be fun to share the the blog posts I made AGES ago about folding and cutting paper snowflakes. (2014 is ages ago, right?) The photos are kind of terrible, BUT the info is still good ;-)
I didn't get my typical process images this time... but I did take a video! I'm learning new things 😊. I have to say, though, that the video doesn't quite go to the very end of the process... it was getting long, and I didn't want to have a crazy long video, so... yeah. It shows most of it though.
As you see above, I ended up going with an accent color--while I like the monochrome, I wanted a little more to it. In the past, my layers have been created as if they were separate "blocks" of a linocut. This time, the layers are assembled as if they were a reduction print... this is how they come together:
I even nudges a couple of the layers a bit, as if the registration was a little bit off... I want to experiment more with that in the future. Maybe its something that nobody but me appreciates, but *I* think it's cool ;-) .
I'm temporarily pulling this blog out of hibernation to show you a few new things I've done recently... and then I'm putting it right back to sleep.
I've been feeling like I'm in a bit of a slump lately, so I've been trying new things to try to work through it. Behold:
In April, I did a quick Easter Bunny sketch. It ended up working for both the SCBWI Draw This! prompt (bloom) and Colour Collective (lemon yellow) as well as the holiday... triple dipping! I challenged myself to only use 4 colors in this--pink, yellow, purple, and green. The grey of the bunny's fur is just the green and pink layered over each other... cool, eh?
I also played around with some mermaid pictures for Mermay! This first one was another limited palette experiment (limited palettes are FUN!) I think it has only... 6 colors? Anyway, I just wanted to see what would happen if I treated a piece a bit more like a cross between a painting and a reduction print. Some bits I like and some I don't. If I really liked where it was going I would spend some time getting that last 20% just right, but... I don't, so I moved on to other experiments. It was an interesting exercise, anyway.
I got an iPad Pro for mothers day (well, mostly just because I said It's Time Now I Need This) and played around in Procreate a bit as well. I kinda just let myself try things and do whatever I felt like, which ended up being in a VERY different style than I usually use. It was fun, but... uncomfortable. I'm headed right back to my comfort zone after this, thank you very much.
Last but not least... I actually made a VIDEO. 😲 (<- the face you should be making at that news.)
Well, sort of. I just drew in Procreate, and procreate made the video. BUT I recorded audio to go with it, and put it all together, AND uploaded it to Youtube! Which probably seems really basic to a lot of people, but it was a HUGE DEAL to me. Take a look below if you're curious!
That's it for what I've been working on recently.
I also added a links section to the bottom of my "about" page, so you can find pages showing contests, interviews, and challenges I've participated in. Take a look if you're interested.
My final piece of news is that I am now the Illustration Coordinator for my SCBWI Region, Eastern (Upstate) NY. I'm excited and nervous, but I think it will be a great experience so I'm looking forward to it.
And that's it for now--this blog is going back to sleep!
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Its a truism, but, well... it's TRUE.
I love blogging, but I've been thinking a LOT lately about priorities. What is most important for me to focus on right NOW? Where do I really want to go with my art? What do I do now to GET there?
You've heard this from me before, but... being the primary care giver to two toddlers takes a lot of ME. My time, focus, attention, and energy. The time and mental/emotional bandwidth left to me after mothering daily needs to be carefully portioned out. Since I enjoy blogging I *want* do do more with it, and I think a couple years down the road I WILL do more with it, but... the time isn't now.
The main reason I need to write this post is for me, really. I'm publicly giving myself permission to NOT immediately write those blog posts floating around in my head about critiquing, the artists cycle, why I don't like the word "talent", and all those other blog post ideas in my head. There will be a right time for them.
But even if things seem quiet here, don't think I'm not working. Quite the contrary. Like I said, I'm doubling down on my priorities. Right now, that means finishing my book dummy. Then researching agents, writing and sending queries. So, things have been a bit quiet here and will continue to be so, but that is because the more important work is being done behind the scenes... and one of these days will be the time for my blog to shine.
Right now, I have cute little toddlers to enjoy, and a dummy to make.
Off to work.
If you're curious about the other things I've been working on in the last couple months that weren't blogging, here are some summaries, with links:
In December I finished a project for Cricut that... I don't think has been released yet? I'll have to see when it goes live and post a link when it does.
In January I turned in my entry for the Folio Society/House of Illustration Book Illustration Competition. My entry did not make the longlist, let alone the shortlist. However, I really enjoyed doing the project, and I love having the pieces for my portfolio. What's more, while I didn't love every single entry chosen for the longlist, the winner of the competiton was one of my top three favorites and I absolutely love that it was chosen as the winner, so no disappointment there.
If that didn't make my January busy enough, I decided to apply for the Adobe Creative Residency. I first heard about the residency LAST January (2018) when I was--AHEM--9 months pregnant... so understandably I didn't jump to apply at that time. This time around, I was just a mom to a 12 month old and a 2.5 year old, so... why not? In all seriousness, though, I felt I had to at least apply and see what happens. You miss all the shots you don't make, right? I feel the exercise of just creating the application was incredibly useful, though. It forced me to get absolutely clear about what I want to do, what my best ideas are, make a case about why they're good ideas, outline how I can implement them, and show how they'll grow my career.
I turned in my application just a few days before attending the SCBWI conference in NY. I meant to write up a blog post about my experience there, which was AMAZING, but, well.. time. Sigh. A friend from SVS asked to do a quick interview about my experience as she prepares to go to her first SCBWI conference, though, so you can get a bit of an idea of my experience here.
Just a couple weeks after getting home from the conference, my Drawing Class started up again. Since this isn't my first time teaching it all the basic outlining and preparation is done, but it still gets some of my time and attention. I absolutely love doing it, by the way, and hope to expand to do more classes in the future... but one is enough for now.
Behind the scenes of all THAT, I've been slowly working my way through Jessica Abel's book Growing Gills, just one chapter/exercise per week. Its a book about making the time to do the creative work that is important to you, even when your life is really full already. I've been working through it with a few others on the SVS Forums. We're only a few chapters in, but its making me get EVEN CLEARER about what I want to be spending my time on, if the SCBWI conference and writing the Adobe Residency Application didn't do that enough already.
So, like I said before... this blog has been slow and sleepy for awhile. That is not going to change. The thing that IS going to change is, I'm not going to feel GUILTY about that. I am officially putting this blog (along with my newsletter, while I'm at it) into hibernation mode. I may poke it awake now and then if I have a new piece to share or some other bit of news, but other than that my time is going to be focused on other projects in the near future.
Thanks for reading! I hope to have many big creative projects to share here in the future.
Time sneaks up on us... now that the SCBWI conference is over, its time for my drawing class to start again!
For more info, click here, or on the "classes" tab in the site menu.
I wanted to briefly talk about why I wanted to teach a drawing class. Isn't just drawing enough? Why take away from precious creating time to do it?
For a long time I've been interested in not just drawing, but HOW we draw. What actually goes on in a person's brain when they are making something? It's something that is hard to articulate--artists usually know how to do it, but not how to explain it to someone else.
I don't have all the answers, but I love sharing the ones that I do with the people who sign up for my classes. It's fun too see the ah-hah moments and the visible progress as they "get" it, and see a drawing that they made that actually looks like the real thing.
I feel strongly that learning to draw has benefits for anyone, not just those who want to be art professionals. It helps you focus, set aside your natural biases to see things in a new way, and to meditate, among other things.
So, if you're in the Schenectady area and any of those things sound cool to you, I'd love to see you in class!
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