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!
This year, I decided to enter the House of Illustration's Book Illustration Contest. This year, the book was Howl's Moving Castle, so obviously I couldn't resist. And... I did not make the longlist.
Many beautiful entries did, though. Take a look: bicpeopleschoice.org/book-illustration-competition-2019/
Regardless, I am proud of my work, and I'm glad to have created these pieces.
Soon, I will share progress shots of how each piece progressed to finish. For now, here they are:
In fact, Sophie did not sell hats very much. After a day or so observing in the workshed, and another day going round the clothier and the silk merchant’s with Fanny, Fanny set her to trimming hats. Sophie sat in a small alcove at the back of the shop, sewing roses to bonnets and veiling to velours, lining all of them with silk and arranging wax fruit and ribbons stylishly on the outsides. She was good at it. She quite liked doing it. But she felt isolated and a little dull.
Then it was Michael back for some reason, Sophie thought as she opened the door. A turnip face leered at her. She smelled mildew. Against the wide blue sky, a ragged arm ending in the stump of a stick wheeled round and tried to paw at her. It was a scarecrow. It was only made of sticks and rags, but it was alive, and it was trying to come in. “Calcifer!” Sophie screamed. “Make the castle go faster!”
[Howl] set off with dignity to the bathroom, wading in blue-and-silver suit. The rest of the blue-and-silver suit followed him, dragging step by step down the stairs and rustling across the floor. By the time Howl was in the bathroom, most of the jacket was on the ground floor and the trousers were appearing on the stairs. Howl half shut the bathroom door and seemed to go on hauling the suit in hand over hand. Sophie and Michael and the dog-man stood and watched yard after yard of blue or silver fabric proceed across the floor, decorated with an occasional silver button the size of a millstone and enormous, regular, ropelike stitches. There may have been nearly a mile of it.
Of these, which is your favorite? Which is your favorite longlisted entry? I'm having a hard time choosing.
So its, what... 2019 now or something?
Resolutions are a thing around now, as is grumbling about how they don't really work and how you should be ready to improve yourself at any time of the year, yadda yadda.
Also, having a Theme Word for the year is also a thing lately. Last year, my word was Baby Steps. Which isn't one word, but I was a bit of a rebel. It was an extremely fitting word for the year, considering that I had a baby in January... and he ended up learning to walk in December. And now nothing in our house is safe.
But I digress. Aside from things associated with my kids (who are darling, just by the way) I took a lot of baby steps in 2018. While I didn't sell art in any shows or fairs, I attended a few with the express intention to do research and think about what I would do in such a show. That was a good baby step.
I completed a few small illustration projects last year as well--no mean feat with a baby and toddler demanding most of my attention. (I mentioned that they make up for most of it through cuteness, though, right?)
Oh, and a couple of those illustrations got a bit of recognition, actually placing twice in the monthly SVS illustration competitons (including my Octopus Bath image, created the month after giving birth, since... I'm crazy?). Thats a good baby step.
My goal had been to get out three post cards last year... I only sent two. BUT. That is still good! I had a very positive response to the second one in particular, from an agent who wasn't even looking for new clients. So flattering!
I also planned and taught my first ever art class. That was a BIG baby step.
My word for 2019:
I started a lot of good things in 2018. I just need to keep them going. I don't need to slam on the gas and accelerate as much as I can... I just need to keep the balls I have rolling.... rolling.
Like, with postcards. I would like to ACTUALLY send three post cards this year. And submitting to agents in particular. (Gotta get that dummy finished first... speaking of actually completing projects, thats another thing to keep rolling...)
And with art shows... I want to do more than just attend this year. I want to have a booth in one or two, mostly just to learn. I'm sure it will cost more to get my tent, tables, prints, card reader, etc. than I'll be able to make back, but the point for now would be the learning.
Also, with contests. I just turned in my entry for the House of Illustration's Book Illustration Competiton. Because, um.... HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. Seriously.... how could I NOT? I want to keep the ball rolling by continuing to enter in competitons when I can. And hey.... if I enter competitons, I may even win a couple like I did last year. You miss all the shots you don't take, amirite?
Continuing the momentum on my drawing class, I will be teaching it again this semester (starting mid February). The plan is by next fall to teach a painting class, as a sequel to the drawing one. And ALSO teach the drawing class. (Maybe consecutively, rather than during the same weeks.... hmm. Obviously lots to be figured out here.)
Ok, y'all get it already, I know. I'll be done now.
Oh, one question: do you have a word for the year? What was it last year? What is it for this year?
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