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.
It's almost February! Which means… time for New Years Resolutions! Right? Wait… I’m LATE? What do you mean late?
I’ve been thinking for a few months about what I wanted to get done in the next year, but life got in the way of me actually writing it out. So even though its “late” I wanted to get this post up, because it helps me to think things out, and also to feel accountable to all 2 people who read this blog. (Hi, mom!)
So, here are my goals for this year:
BE AN AWESOME WIFE AND MOTHER.
That, always, is the first goal. That takes precedence. But along with doing those things, I really want to push forward in my writing and illustrating this year:
Oh wait, this one is almost over? I know technically this is a challenge that takes place during the month of January. However, It’s been an incredibly fun and rewarding challenge for me--not only do I already have 32 ideas listed, I was so excited about 3 of those ideas that I already wrote rough drafts of them.
(I then later found out that one of the ideas had been recently been written and published, to be coming out in a few months. And in RHYME no less. I had the idea on my own, though (she whined). And I think I can still do something with the idea, I just need to let it roll around in my head for awhile until I know how to tweak it and make it my own.)
Anyway, I want to continue Storystorm through the year, with a goal of 100 total ideas in the year. Yeah, I did just come up with 32 in less than a month so I’m basically ⅓ there, but that was after not thinking about any or writing any down for a very long time, so I’m thinking they’ll be coming slower now.
The amazing teacher of my Childrens Book Writing class at BYU, Rick Walton, passed away recently. The first assignment for his class was to come up with 100 picture book ideas. It was an amazing class, and he was an amazing teacher and writer, and I want to get to 100 kind of in his memory. And its good to be in the habit of always looking for ideas, and then writing them down.
12x12 Challenge 2017
Complete 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months?? I’m going to give it a try--I already have three drafts, as I mentioned, so just 9 to go :-)
I’ve really enjoyed participating in the 12x12 community and I’m really looking forward to the webinars--the first was AMAZING. So pumped for this year!
By the end of the year, I hope to have a few manuscripts I feel good enough about to start querying agents. Which is scary, but exciting. I can do this!
Smart Dummies 2017
I got my Finn’s Feet dummy put together last year thanks to this challenge, and I volunteered to help with running it this year. I hope to have a bunch of great manuscripts to choose from by the time September rolls around.
In 2015, my goal was to get together a portfolio I wasn’t ashamed of and then start my postcard campaign. I worked and drew, put together a portfolio I liked, and then August of that year I sent out my first postcard, featuring my Adventure image.
The month after, I found out I was pregnant. We were thrilled! But I decided it wasn’t the right time to be pushing forward with a full postcard campaign, so that was the only postcard I sent.
Well, the baby was born and is growing up and I LOVE being a mother, but it doesn’t change the fact that I love illustrating! And I would like to convince people to pay me to do it! Which brings us back to the postcards. I think it’s time. I’d like to send out 3 this year--tentatively I’m aiming for March, July, and November. It’s time to put myself out there!
I said I'd do it, and I did. Earlier today, I submitted the dummy of my story FINN'S FEET to the Little, Brown Emerging Artist Award. Thanks to all who commented on my last entry to help me find a title. Now my little story is going off into the world...
It was a big project, and the housework definitely got neglected as the deadline got closer, but it's done. It feels so good!
I only saved progress images of one of the illustrations, though. I was just trying to get them done as quickly as I could, so saving out periodically as I usually do just didn't happen.
This is a good start for my goals this year of pushing forward with my writing and illustrating this year, and actually submitting my work as well. Before doing this project I thought I mostly wanted to illustrate other people's stories, but putting this together helped me to realize that I actually really like creating my own stories too. I will definitely be doing more!
...a character who has been living in my head for a few years now. I finally have his story put together in a dummy book, and after I complete a couple more example illustrations, I'll be entering it in this contest.
I have one small problem, though. I'm having a hard time thinking of a title.
What would you call a story about a boy with very long feet? Any ideas? :-)
Sometimes, my baby sleeps. And sometimes she doesn't sleep on me. And sometimes when she's sleeping not on me, I get to do stuff. Like make pictures.
My dummy is still in progress! But I was feeling really bogged down in the sketch-tightening phase (my personal least favorite in the whole illustration process.) So, I decided I needed to do a quick piece start to finish to remind myself what it is like to actually do the final stage--which I really enjoy!
So, I put together a quick piece for the SCBWI postcard contest. I just threw together the first image I thought of, without trying to be super original with the concept or composition--I just scribbled a sketch and moved forward on it. It was really refreshing, actually. I felt more free, less attached to what happened, and since I didn't care quite as much I felt more able to experiment with things without being stressed about the experiments going bad. So it was a great piece because I enjoyed making it, whether or not its actually any good otherwise ;-).
I didn't save periodically during the process on this one like I usually do, because I was just moving through it and trying things, as I said. Here's how it turned out:
Hello hello hello! I am alive and I am posting on my blog again--Hooray!
Taking a break like I talked about in that last post ended up being just what I needed, I think. I have had a great (life changing!) break, and am more excited to dive back into my art because of it.
If baby will nap, that is.
Instead of Inktober this year, I am participating in the Smart Dummies challenge to complete one picture book dummy in the month of October. I'm a bit behind, but I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge. I am putting into physical form a story that has been in my head for years, and it feels soooo good. And I finally get to make use of those dummy book layouts I put together last April :-).
Its really hard to balance this mom thing with being an illustrator, though. I mean, I knew it would be, but now I really know ;-). However, since getting back to doing illustration my husband has commented more than once that I seem happier and I'm just more fun to be around. I know that I feel so much better too.
I believe making time to do my illustration makes me a better mom--I'm more patient and happy when I've done it. I also believe that being a mom will make me a better illustrator, particularly for children's books--what better way could there be for understanding my audience? However, finding the time to do both is really tricky. They enhance each other, but they steal from each other as well--time that I'm momming I'm not illustrating and vice versa. I'm not sure there is any such thing as balance, there is just one day at a time. Its hard, but I think it's better that way.
Hello! I am still alive. And still very pregnant. Just about as pregnant as you can get, actually. Sometime in the next month, this little person is going to emerge and life will never be the same! In the meantime, we are trying to get everything ready AND get enough sleep. That whole thing about sleeping now because you won't when the baby comes? You all forgot or never experienced a huge stomach that kicks you and randomly contracts (sometimes quite painfully) and crowds your bladder. The short of sleep thing has already started, my friends. But this being baby #1, there is nothing to keep me from taking naps, so there is that. I make sure to get one most days now, and it is keeping me sane.
So, I've been doing Yoga and Naps and Breathing Exercises and Reading About Birth and Breast Feeding and Organizing Everything.... I have significantly cut back on my art for the last month or so, though. As in, I've barely even gotten my sketchbook out. I look at all the art from the people I follow on social media, and I certainly still THINK about it, but.... haven't really done any.
Now and then I start to feel a bit guilty about this. Does this mean that I don't REALLY want to be an illustrator? That I am stopping as soon as the going gets rough?
Maybe, but I don't think so.
For the last year and a half, I have really focused a LOT on my art and portfolio. Kind of the culmination of that were the two SCBWI conferences I went to this year--the National Conference in NYC this February, then the Greenleaves Regional Conference up at Lake George in April. Oh, and getting shortlisted for the Bologna Illustrators Showcase--so unexpected, and so encouraging! I am so glad I entered that contest went to both conferences, I have been really inspired and received great feedback. Mostly really positive feedback, too. Basically most of what I heard could be summarized thusly: "Your portfolio looks really great. You have a distinct look and obvious drawing skill. There are a couple things you have to work on, but once you fill those gaps in your portfolio you can compete with the pros."
So intimidating and encouraging at the same time. "You're almost there, just keep working just as crazy-hard as you have been for the last year!"
But, I can't. I don't make this as a lame excuse, but really and truly--I am pregnant and exhausted, and excited and a little bit scared, and really do have other more important things going on right now. That is just how the timing has worked out. I worked really hard for over a year, and its time for a break.
With this going on, I have been thinking a lot about this quote I came across on tumblr awhile back:
I read that and I think--yes. That is where I am right now. I need a time of dormancy for my art. My creative tree needs a winter, to just sit under the snow and not worry about growing or making leaves and fruit for awhile. (Ok, weird image, moving on.) I really do feel that when I come back to my art in a few months, while I expect to be a bit rusty in many ways, that it will ultimately be the better for it, and I will be able to fill those gaps in my portfolio better than I would if I just kept trying to push myself through them now.
This isn't artist's block. Its just a time of dormancy.
I'll be heading up to the Green Leaves SCBWI retreat tomorrow, and though I have a couple stories in progress, I really don't feel they are ready for an official critique--I'm going for a portfolio critique, and I'll continue to work on my stories until I have them in a good place.
Speaking of getting them in a good place, I do think it's time to start figuring out how the story will flow and get some thumbnails, particularly for my wordless story. I searched online for a nice dummy book layout to print, but didn't see one to my liking. Either they were colored (why??? I just need some squares) or they didn't have space to write notes, which I wanted. So like any self respecting graphics-savvy person, I just made it myself. And I thought I'd make these available to anyone else who might be looking for the same things I was in a dummy layout.
Feel free to print and use these as you need. If you like them feel free to share, but I would appreciate if you kept my information on them intact. Happy sketching!
A little over a year ago, I started keeping this blog. I hoped to blog every week--I did end up blogging nearly that often, yay me. :-)
In the beginning, I blogged about anything I wanted here. Within a few months, however, it became clear to me that I wanted to have more of a focus for this blog, and in the latter half of the year my posts focused more and more on my art, illustration, and craft work and less on my other projects. I feel this focus was a good thing, but on the other hand, I missed blogging about those other things as well--my baking, reading, and other life adventures. As I've been learning more about sourdough and creating my own recipes, I've wanted to share those things but felt that this wasn't the place.
My solution? Simply to categorize--I'll put another blog page as a sub-category to this blog where I can put all the non-illustration related things I want. This main blog will still be my focus, but when I REALLY REALLY want to create a post about something that just doesn't belong here, I'll have a place to put it. That way, I'll get to get whatever-it-is out of my system, but won't clutter up this blog with off-topic ramblings.
I'm not going to delete any of the old posts, they can still be found in the archives of this blog.
My most recent adventures have been in yogurt making--which, after sourdough, is pretty simple. Later, who knows--I may write about being a work-at-home mom, cloth diapering (current plan is to go for it--wish us luck) and probably post all the recipes I've invented. It'll be fun :-).
So awhile back I did a master copy of a piece by Norman Rockwell. Because, well, Norman Rockwell. Also, master copies are good practice. So after doing that one, of course I had to do one by Rockwell's hero, J. C. Leyendecker.
Thats right. Rockwell was a young artist with dreams and heroes once too! And one of his big inspirations was Leyendecker, who was doing Post covers long before Rockwell was. His have a different design sense than Rockwell's certainly, but his humorous scenes I think inspired Rockwell, who took that concept and perfected it.
I started this master copy in mid November. Yes, November. Then life happened and it got set aside for awhile, then picked up again, then set aside... so three months later I'm posting it, not because I think its perfect, but because I'm kind of sick of it.
I wasn't as strict with myself with this one as I was with the Rockwell copy I did. I did have a few layers (maybe 5 in the end, I think) and I took advantage of some of Photoshop's awesome tools such as Liquefy and Transform to try and get my drawing just right. It still isn't just right, but I don't think I did half bad.
One thing I really learned from this is that I need to learn more about how to create and manipulate Photoshop brushes. This was really made clear to me because to me, Leyendecker is ALL ABOUT the brushwork. The man was a master. So I look at his piece with all it's beautiful brush strokes and I try to imitate them in Photoshop and get frustrated because I'm not even close. I know Photoshop can't imitate brush strokes perfectly, but I know it can do a whole lot better than I'm currently getting it to do. Next thing to focus on, I guess.
As always, I saved periodically as I worked. Wow, my drawing was WAY off in the beginning! Photoshop makes it much easier to get it right--well, closer to right. Anyway, I think I learned what I needed to learn here and I'm excited to move on from this project.
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