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!
This is... kinda surreal.
I have a lot of different podcasts/channels/music I listen to while drawing and I basically just skip around to what I feel like listening to on a given day, so I don't really hear ALL of any given channel or podcast. (Note to self: do a post where I talk about all the cool illustration related channels/podcasts I listen to and ask for recommendations.)
I was just catching up on some recent Will Terry videos since I haven't listened for awhile. This title caught my eye.
I thought, "Hey, thats a legit concern, I wonder what he has to say about that..."
Then he mentions the tweet that prompted these thoughts and I'm like, "Hmm, that sounds familiar... wait a second... that sounds REALLY familiar..."
So I scroll back several months in MY OWN twitter feed and... there it is. My pessimistic tweets from late last year. And only now am I finding this direct response to them. Life is funny sometimes.
The good news is, I'm not feeling quite so pessimistic of late. My feeling recently has been--if you love the work and you learn and improve, that should be the most important success. It sounds lame but that's how it is.
Like the whole "Shoot for the moon: even if you miss, you'll land among the starts" quote, as cliche as it might sound. Maybe I will never ever succeed at the specific things that I want to. But If I'm working on something I enjoy, and learning and improving and doing good things with it, I will get SOMEWHERE worthwhile. It may or may not be what my current ideal version of success looks like, but I will get SOMEWHERE good if I do good work.
Finding the time to work is my current problem. Anyone want to borrow a toddler and a really cute baby?
I've always loved to see how my favorite artists have developed their skill and style over time. The hashtags #drawthisagain or #drawthisagainmeme have lots of fun examples of artists who revisit the same subject matter as they did in the past and show the two versions side by side. I never did it before... but that is about to change!
When the idea of this image first came to me, it stuck in my head and wouldn't leave. This happens every once in awhile. Usually, drawing it out gets it out and thats it. I tried just putting it in my sketchbook, but that wasn't enough. I was in college at the time. and was luckily in a class where we had a lot of freedom in choosing what we would paint for our assignments... which was just the excuse I needed.
Honestly... I wasn't thrilled with it came out (and, of course, am even less so now). Despite trying multiple thumbnails, getting detailed reference with my roommate posing in costume (Thanks, Annilynski) and doing everything I knew how to do, it just turned out OK. But, I was just a student. Giving it a good try was all I could do, and I did learn a lot from it.
Fast forward a couple years. I had graduated and worked in-house at Cricut for a few months before moving across the country with my husband. I was working from home, experimenting with my process and style and expanding my portfolio. What to draw? This idea jumped to mind--I wasn't satisfied with my last attempt, why not give it another go in an entirely new style?
So I did.
I liked it much better. I felt that the more graphic style was really working for me, and it had a bit more movement than the previous version.
Fast forward to now, a few years later again. I have been experimenting and developing my style more and found myself wanting to try this image yet again. Now with kids of my own, I found it easier to make Rapunzel look younger as I had always wanted. Its not as graphic as my second, not as modeled/realistic as my first. And I still don't love it, but it is an interesting addition to this series. I think I may have to continue to return to this subject matter over the years to see how my art changes.
What do you think? Which is your favorite and why?
You guys, I made a thing! A short comic, that is. And the campaign to fund it on Kickstarter opens TODAY!
Take a look:
SERVED comic on Kickstarter
I've been wanting to do more with comics for awhile now and this is the first time I'm really doing something "official" with it.
Comics and me took awhile to come together. Growing up, I read and read and read novels, then drew fanart of the characters. I, like many, mistook the MEDIUM of comics for a GENRE--comics were stories about superheroes, with lots of punching and fighting and science experiments gone wrong. I had no particular interest in that type of story. (Still don't.) And Manga? Well, without getting too much into it, in middle school the group of kids who were into Manga were really mean to me, so I became unwilling to try Manga just by association.
I always wanted to work in SOMETHING to do with stories, words, and pictures. I wanted to be an "artist" for the longest time, until in eigth grade when I read School Story by Andrew Clemens and realized, not only that those names on covers were actual PEOPLE, but that I could be one of them. Up to that point I was so focused on reading the books I hadn't stopped to really consider how they came to be.
So, for awhile I wanted to be a writer... until I found that I had a hard time expressing just what I wanted with words. Reading went fine, but words were so much harder than pictures. So, I decided I wanted to be.... wait for it... a LITERARY AGENT.
Yeah, I eventually realized that that was the wrong dream too. I loved reading, but I always came back to pictures. So when it came time to pick majors, I skipped English and went straight for the visual arts.
On my application to BYU Visual Arts department, I was asked to rank my interest in the different areas. I put Drawing and Painting first on my list. I wasnt sure what to put second... but illustration sounded cool. Besides, I might only be accepted to one and then my decision would be made.
Well, I was accepted to both. So now I had to choose one... to start, I looked at the list of required classes. Drawing and Painting included several I wanted to take, many I was less excited about, and some that sounded straight-up boring. Illustration, on the other hand, required only classes that sounded AWESOME. I went to talk to the department heads to learn more, and Brother Barrett was incredibly kind and knowledgable.
So, Illustration it is.
Wait a minute. Youre telling me illustration is making pictures that go with stories? This is what I've wanted to do my whole life! Why fidn't you say thats what it was called?!?
I mean, I knew that, but I never really internalized it until then.
So, illustration. There were a lot of kindred spirits in that major with me. One day in the studio we were chatting about books we liked, and the topic of comics came up. Oh, I don't really read comics, I said. I'm just not that into super hero stories.
Well, I was set straight pretty quickly, and was lent a comic to read then and there--Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. I was fascinated.
And SO BEHIND.
Here was this story telling medium that felt SO PERFECT for ME and I was just barely being introduced to it! My classmates had been reading and making these things for ages, and I barely knew what was possible!
Fortunately they gave me some good recommendations. I was hooked! This was my thing!
And then I left on my mission and lost some steam... but not all of it. I made several short fun little comics about funny things that happened to me and sent them home. They weren't great, (actually, they were pretty bad, I'll be honest) but they were lots of fun to make.
I wasn't sure where to go from there after coming home, though. I made a couple little comics for myself, but still felt really intimidated by the medium and kind of steered clear for awhile.
But when I was invited to create a short comic for the Served anthology, I was excited to say yes. I've read most of the stories in it and am really excited to be part of such a fun project--and humbled, because some really awesome and experienced comics creators have contributed. My little story feels shabby next to their polished work, but I'm proud to have done it. I think its a really fun collection and am excited for people to read it.
Take a look.
Please forgive any typos... this post was created one-handed while nursing a baby. Because I'm awesome like that.
Finally.... I got my three rainstorm sketches finished! Huzzah!
The real trick here was trying to make the character consistent in each. It isn't perfect, but I think I did it. The expression is different in each one, but I think the main facial proportions are consistent.
This character features in a dummy book I'm working on, but these illustrations probably won't make it into the final story. These were just an exploration of the character and style for the book.
Its funny how, when I was sketching this character, I tried many different looks--straight hair, curly hair, long hair, short hair, dark skin, medium skin, light skin. But there was a look I kept coming back to that just felt right. Somehow, she ended up looking a lot like my little girl--plus a few years. She just needs to be blonde :-). I guess it makes sense that she's the one I'd draw, since I look at her every day.
And its funny that after these sketches were already done, we had a few rainy days here. We put on her rubber boots and went out with her, and she had just as much fun splashing in the puddles and looking around at the wet world as I drew her doing here. Its so great to experience new things through a kid's eyes.
Here is how the final piece (the middle one) progressed to finish. I always think it's interesting to see how an illustration looked at the beginning.
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.
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?
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?
I completed a new piece! This one was inspired by one of my favorite artists, James C. Christensen, who recently passed away. He often created images with elaborate ships, mixed scale, and clever sayings, often in Latin. So it was something of an exercise--not exactly a master copy, and not with the goal of being entirely in his style. I wanted something in my style, but inspired by his. I think I succeeded in that at least.
I have progress images (I always think those are fun to see, maybe nobody else does though) but that will have to wait until my internet is working better--its patchy right now for some reason.
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