Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Update

Eggquiring minds want to know...

Did I come up with 30 ideas in 30 days for Storystorm?
Yes!  I actually came up with 46!  Woo-hoo!
(I know there are some stinkers in the bunch, but there are definitely some I'm looking forward to working on.)

Did I write the first draft for a new picture book for 12x12?
Yes!  (I also revised an old manuscript that I had set aside for years!!!)

Did I create a new picture book dummy?
No.  But... I did work on a number of new illustrations.

So far, so good...
The challenges seem to be keeping me on track!
(I'll keep you posted...)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year, Friends!
I hope your year is off to a good start and that you are having 
lots of fun and productive studio time!

For me, the new year means lots of new characters and lots of new ideas!  (It also meant an explosion of masking fluid in my studio that led to an hour long clean-up and nearly having to cut my hair... Have you ever tried to get masking fluid out of a paintbrush?  If you have, then I'm sure you can imagine my near hair catastrophe! Hahaha!)

I digress...  Back to the new ideas...

In addition to the super fun projects I am already working on, I signed up for the Storystorm (previously PiBoldMo) challenge!  
The goal is to come up with 30 new picture book ideas in 30 days.  I have to say, inspiration is flying because we are about halfway through the month and I am already at 30 ideas!  (Some good, some not-so-much, but at least the inspiration faucet is on.)

I plan on putting some of those ideas to use in another challenge I signed up for: 12x12.  The goal of the 12x12 challenge is to write 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months.  (I am giving myself the additional challenge of turning those manuscripts into roughly illustrated dummies... Wish me luck!)

I'll be sharing my progress here, so please check back soon...
In the meantime, I'll be in my studio 
(trying to keep the mess to a minimum)!

Monday, December 26, 2016

My Illustration Process: From Start to Finish!

Since I love seeing how other artists create, 
I thought it would be fun to share my illustration process 
from start to finish...

My process always begins with sketching.  At this stage, I'm trying to get a feel for the character(s), the movement, and the expressions.  I also like to try and develop a rough plan for the layout of the page(s).

Next, I create more finished drawings based on my original sketches, but making adjustments as needed.  I create these drawings on plain old copy paper (but in the size the final artwork will be in).

After my my layout is set and my drawings are complete, I use my light box to trace my drawings onto 140lb. watercolor paper.  When my original drawings have been transferred, I use a dark brown prismacolor pencil to lay in my underlying values.  (I want to get a base down so that I can see where darks, lights, shadows, and highlights will go.)

When I finish my colored pencil layer, I cover the images with clear gesso and let that dry.  Then, I put on a wash of burnt sienna fluid acrylic.  This layer adds warmth and depth to the final painting that would be difficult to achieve if I left those areas white.

Now the fun really begins... I start adding color (using acrylic paint).  I start by painting the areas that would be furthest away (in the background), then moving to areas that are closer to the viewer (in the foreground).  
I build up my paint in layers, starting with darker values and gradually lightening them.  Not only does this allow for smooth blending, it gives the final painting more depth.

(It was at this point that I accidentally dipped my sleeve into my palette and smeared it across the page as I was working. 
I don't recommend that!  Hahaha!)

When I'm adding color, I try to avoid using paint straight from the tube.  I use a porcelain enamel butcher's tray palette and mix my paints directly on the smooth surface.  Once I've mixed my colors, I transfer them to folded damp paper towels.  (This keeps them workable for a long time.)  If I spritz my paints with water and cover my palette with plastic wrap, I can use the paints I've mixed for days.  (Also, the porcelain surface is great for easy clean-up!)

I keep building on previous layers, moving around the painting (avoiding working on any one particular area for too long).  The final step is to add the last little details and the whitest whites.

(Actually, the final step for this painting was fixing my "oops" paint smear digitally!)

I hope you've found this start to finish look at my illustration process helpful...
See you in 2017!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Run, Crab... Run!!!

Last week I teased you with a quick gestural sketch.
These are the paintings the sketch led to...

Do you love to see how an artist creates their art?  Me too!
That's why next week I will be sharing my process (in detail, with pictures) 
from sketch to finish!

Friday, December 9, 2016

An Update and A Tease...

I realized I never posted an update to the doughnut illustration I shared last month, so I wanted to be sure to let you see how it turned out...

In case you missed the previous posts, this is the sketch it started from:

And, since I'd love to keep you in the loop, here is a little tease of something I'm currently working on:

Be sure to check back next week to see what becomes of this rough sketch!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

When All Else Fails... Make Art.

I have been at a loss for words lately.
I have been feeling all sorts of feelings, but I can never seem to find the right words to express them.  

When I was little, I was painfully shy.  (So shy in fact, that school conferences were arranged to discuss my shyness.)  While I had a difficult time speaking up in the typical verbal sense, I discovered a way to communicate that didn't involve words... Art.  Throughout my life, I have found that even when I don't know what to say, I can turn to my familiar friends, drawing and painting, to help see me through... It's my visual voice.

Since I currently find myself in the all-too-familiar predicament of struggling to verbalize my feelings, I was excited to read this post by Alisa Burke.  When she shared the #artistsforlove movement that a beautiful and generous group of artists have started, it felt like a call to the easel.  
This is my offering...

Click here for a hi-resolution downloadable & printable version.

Please feel free to download, print, and share this image.  Or, if you feel called to do so, create your own image for the #artistsforlove movement.  I love the idea of humans around the world creating beauty for a common purpose, don't you?

No matter where you live, no matter what you believe, I think we can all agree that we could all use a little more kindness right now.

(A painting I made of Patience in February 2014.)

Even though I often struggle to find the right words, I am very grateful to know people who don't.  My friend Patience Salgado is a kindness revolutionary, and her words are magic.  I am so happy to be able to share them with you...

Kindness is not doing acts to appease our guilt

or to try to prove our goodness,

Revolutionary Kindness asks us:

.....to be bold in our resistance to what we know is not right/true

for our fellow humans…

...to be honest with each other and ourselves about the state of our nation (and hearts) and the ways we have individually contributed…

...to be willing to be uncomfortable while we learn the nuances and implications of our white privilege…

...to keep trying when we get it wrong…

...to be quiet and listen to the groups of people who have a different

skin color, religion, sexual orientation and abilities…

...to be ridiculously bold in our belief of the power of empathy and kindness…

...to act, to serve, to give - not because we are good people,

but because we *know* and deeply feel our own humanity...

and know just how much we need each other

and how much we need kindness ourselves…

...to believe that kindness can change or touch something

when no one else around you can see or believe it…

....to take kindness to places where none seems to exist, or to seek and discover it in the unimaginable…

...to try, just try kindness as a way of understanding the world and yourself…

...to offer what we have and nothing more, not to save the world, not to fix, but to follow our call as humans - the outcome is not our business.

This kindness humbles you, makes you fierce, stretches you in ways you didn't see coming, checks you, heals you, reveals your biases, comforts, disturbs, empowers, surprises...it changes *you*. ❤️

-Patience Salgado
You can read the original post at:


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