Thursday, December 26, 2013

Some Truth For Today

I need to tell a story. It’s an obsession. Each story is a seed inside of me that starts to grow and grow, like a tumor, and I have to deal with it sooner or later. Why a particular story? I don’t know when I begin. That I learn much later. Over the years I’ve discovered that all the stories I’ve told, all the stories I will ever tell, are connected to me in some way.
Isabelle Allende

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Some Preliminary Work for Ari's War

In lieu of a Christmas piece, I give you some prelim work from Ari's War.  Enjoy!  And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Aaaand Dragon Tamer . . . Might Be Done?

I just . . . don't know.  I can't get the colors right - or at least the way I want them - on the computer.

Acrylic, watercolor and pencil on watercolor paper.

Bear Attack is Finished!

"Bear Attack"
Pencil and Ink on Paper.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Idea for Address Stamp

Another idea I'm working on, inspired by this stamp.  I thought it might be interesting to use this on postcards I send out as the return address - and just on general correspondence.  Not that I send a lot of letters, but maybe this will encourage me to try . . . We'll see.  Obviously, I've blacked out the address.  I know all of you were just chomping at the bit, hoping to track me down and surprise me this Christmas, but I'm trying to keep my blood pressure down (haha).

The fox/dog/wolf creature is a morin, from my story you can read about here.  I think I'll carve it out myself onto a block of rubber I know I have lying around here somewhere.

And here's the idea for the postcard back:

And here are some ideas for the back of an envelope:

Anyway, if you would let me know what you think, I'd appreciate it!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Remember that piece . . . ?

So, that piece I posted way back in, what was it?  June?  Yeah.  I have been working on it.  So.  It's going to be the first piece in my black and white portion of my portfolio.  This is obviously just the final drawing.  I am putting it on the board today.  Cross your fingers!

I got some pieces of inspiration from SFAL2 back in May.  I jotted then all down in my sketchbook to review later, but 'Bear Attack' jumped out when I asked myself what was an experience I knew about.

It's kinda hard to say how these experiences kind of merged in my head - but they did, and I had all the pieces before I could really trace them back to their source.  So . . .

For those of you who know or have gone back through my blog posts, you know that I spent some time in Alaska at the end of my junior year in college working on my thesis.  It's kinda a long story, but what you need to know is that the school gave me money to go up to Alaska for several months and I ended up getting on board with someone who did outreaches and ended up traveling all over the state, helping out and taking pictures and drawing and painting.  Anyway, I was up there during the summer for part of that when the salmon were running (as in going upstream lay their eggs).  We went fishing or hiking (when we had time, which wasn't often), and one day near the end of our trip, we ended up in the area around where the Russian Kenai Rivers join up.  We had been there all summer, seen almost every kind of wildlife there was to see: moose, caribou, eagles, etc.  You name it, we had seen it.  Except for bears.  And it was salmon season, so that was a little odd.  We had heard the bears were out, we had even been witness to some of the damage they can cause by breaking into storage sheds and garages to get into meat freezers.  But I hadn't seen one.

So we hit the woods, hiking down to the river and the first thing we hear from people hiking up is that there are bears everywhere. And there were.  Like three.  Two huge grizzly cubs and a mother black bear.  None of them were as big as the bear in this piece, obviously, cause this is fantasy, but we had an experience or two that day that I will never forget.

The other piece of this little story is kind of about one of my brothers, Mark.  He's married and off doing army stuff - and that was always one of those things that everyone knew was going to happen because my brother is a warrior through and through.  He's always been that way.  Anyway . . .

When we were little, we would go up to Tennessee a lot; my parents had bought a cabin up there that we rent out and homeschoolers that we were, we would drive up there and stay for months at a time, fixing up the house, pulling weeds, cutting firewood, etc.  Sometimes I think that homeschooling is just and excuse for parents to have ready access to child labor anytime and anywhere - which is why I have every intention of homeschooling my kids whenever I have any.  Anyway . . .

We had two dogs at this point, a golden retriever and a beagle, and even though they had free reign to go off and run all over the mountain, we still occasionally took them on walks (I'm not sure why either).  Which is what we were doing when some giant monstrosity of a dog runs up completely out of the blue and attacks our golden retriever.  Now, all six of us are freaking out - my mom, my two younger brothers and two younger sisters (one of whom was like, three).  One of my sisters is crying, youngest brother is crying, Mom had picked up my littlest sister and is shouting trying to get the owner to come and take care of their dog, I'm trying to keep the beagle out of the fight, and Mark is just mad.  He jumps onto the back of this huge dog (that's bigger than he is, cause he's, like, eight) and starts beating it's back with his fists shouting "Get off my dog!  Get off my dog!" Which, of course, freaks my mom out even more.  But Mark doesn't care, he wraps his little hands around the other dogs collar and just keeps tugging, trying to pull the dog off our golden.

Anyway, I don't remember how we got that thing off our dog - but I'm pretty sure it just got fed up with the little hellion on it's back.  But that's Mark.  Never met a challenge he couldn't beat; throws himself 100% into whatever he's doing.

So all that to say, these are the two main ideas that came together in this piece.  The little kid with the pitchfork doesn't really know what he's going to do with said pitchfork, but he's not gonna stand there and let the giant demon-bear eat his sister and brother.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ari's War

A very incomplete sketch of Ari and Zan -
don't want to give too much away yet.

As usual, this is a rough outline of a story. I am in the process of developing it further for a project that I am working on, which I am sure you will hear more about soon.  

Please don't steal anything.

Once upon a time, in a far away land there lived a girl named Ari.  She grew up with her mother among the Suomi people: a group of semi-nomadic people who followed the migrations of the jakatta herds.   
Ari's father was not of the Suomi, he came from a land far to the south of the Unen Mountains.  He died when Ari was very young and her people could never fully accept her into the clan.  They made her tend the lesser herd-beasts - a job normally given to children too young to ride the morin (huge dog-like animals the Suomi ride).  She was never allowed to participate with the young people her own age.  
She would not have even been allowed to have one of the morin, which are sacred to the Suomi, but she found and cared for a runt pup which was not expected to live.  She named it Zan, and he ended up gaining health and thriving with Ari and her mother's care.  
One day, after tending the herd-beasts for several weeks, one of the younger boys came to take Ari's place.  He treated her with indifference, as many of the children followed their parent's example.  It bothered Ari more than she would ever let on, but it didn't stop her from trying to help the boy lock up the herd-beasts before a storm which was moving down the mountains hit them.  But he spurned her help so Ari turned and went back to her mother's home with Zan.   
The storm raged on for two whole days, and no one could leave their home until the blizzard subsided.  When the storm finally died down, the clan came out and found that the lesser herd-beasts had escaped their enclosure.  The elders turned on Ari, blaming her for the loss which she protested, but the boy who had relieved her watch did not come forward to corroborate her.  Everyone feared that the beasts had been lost and died in the storm, the uproar becoming so great that the elders cast Ari out of the clan.  
Ari's mother wept bitterly and pleaded with the elders to change their minds, but nothing she could say moved them.  She tried to go with Ari, but she had been lamed in a battle many years before and had no morin of her own.  Zan could not carry two people for many miles, Ari knew this, and she told her mother that she could not take her also into banishment.   
So Ari and her mother parted.  She and Zan wandered far into the mountains looking for shelter, but it wasn't long before they came across the trail of the lost herd-beasts.  In a moment of blind hope and desperation, Ari decided to track them down by herself and bring the herd back to her clan.  They would forgive her and take her back, she thought.  But herd-beasts are difficult to round up and heard by yourself.  Two days had passed before Ari and Zan had managed to track all of them down and push them back down the mountain.  The task was made doubly difficult by a pack of snow-cats that picked up her trail and stalked the herd for many days, scattering the herd time and time again before Ari and Zan could drive them off.  Slowly, Ari and Zan's strength was sapped and their progress became slower and slower before the snow-cats came in for a last attack.  A Suomi hunting party came across them as Ari and Zan were making a last attempt to defend themselves.  The hunters drove the cats away, but they accused Ari of trying to steal the herd-beasts.  They did not take any notice of Ari's protests or pleas.
That final meeting broke any desire to be accepted by her clan that Ari had left.  She spent the next few months learning how to live on her own.  She had no contact with anyone from her clan, not even her mother and she grew very adept at avoiding people entirely.  
One day she came across a trail that she had never seen before.  Following it, she and Zan came suddenly upon a strange group of creatures.  Both groups were startled; the strangers quickly turned on Ari and Zan, but were eventually overcome.  Greatly disturbed by the fightand the discovery of such strange creatures, Ari backtracked them to find out where the strangers had come from.  The trail went back into the mountains, and the creatures’ wanton destruction of any life that crossed their trail disturbed Ari even further.  The trail eventually led Ari to a huge encampment of the creatures who were stealthily making their way down into the valley where Ari’s people lived.  
For a moment Ari was tempted to leave them to their fate, but she remembered her mother and some small kindnesses that some of the clan had shown her on occasion and she ran off to try and find help.  
Her first instinct was to warn the village, but would they listen to her?  Fortunately as she was making her way down the mountain, she comes across another trail - a hunting party of Suomi.  She followed this trail, and found one of the younger members of the party separated from the rest.  It was the young boy from her clan - the one who’s inattention had led to the herd-beasts breaking free.  Ari tried to convince him that these strange creatures were on their way down into the valley, but the boy was sullen and refused to believe her.  The boy ran off, leaving Ari more desperate than ever.  She knew there was very little she could do on her own - or even her clan could do on their own against such an army.  
As she and Zan were making their way further into the valley, Ari spotted a herd of the jakatta, hundreds of beasts, and the beginnings of a plan started to form in her mind.  First she made her way back to the scouting party and while they were sleeping, crept into the camp, found the boy again and told him what she was planning to do, telling him to warn the village in case her plan fell through.  
Then Ari and Zan moved out and began working to round up the herd of jakattas.  Ari had learned a few tricks in her time alone in the mountains and she and Zan eventually got the jakattas moving.  
The boy meanwhile stayed silent.  But the scouting party comes across the creatures that Ari and Zan killed, and the boy reluctantly tells the others what Ari said.  
Ari moved the jakattas down the valley and caused them to stampede over the unsuspecting army of creatures.  But she’s not able to turn the herd out of the path of the village.  The hunting party had made it back, not in time to help turn the herd, but soon enough to get most of the clan out of the path of destruction.
When the dust settled, there wasn’t as much damage as was originally feared, but there is enough that the elders still do not accept Ari back into the clan. But she found that it didn’t hurt as much as it had, she content with her life in the mountains, she’s not helpless - and there’s still the chance that something could change down the line.  

To be continued . . .

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

From Scott Robertson's Mecanimal Sketches

Scott Robertson is a designer and a teacher at Art Center College of Design. He also publishes a lot of really cool books through Design Studio Press.

I think I've talked about his book The Skillful Huntsman before, where he takes three of his student through the entire process of conceptualizing a story for a game or movie.  It's been a huge inspiration for some of what I am doing with The Robin Hood Project.  

He has a lot of awesome (FREE!) tutorials on YouTube that you should totally go check out.  You can also check out his website or his blog here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some Truth for Today

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

- Aristotle

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And Now We Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

Here's what's been happening in my life since I last really posted:

So I went to SFAL 2 and managed to get back home without having been transported to Oz by a tornado, though that might have been interesting.

I have mixed feelings about Kansas City.

I don't know what to write here.  I don't know what I want to say.  I'm working on one or two (or 6) projects. I have a bunch of ideas that I want to experiment with.

I'm trying to get off coffee.  Teacchino has been suggested as a possible substitute, but I think I made it wrong because it both smelled and tasted like paint-thinner.  Or what I imagine what paint thinner would taste like.

One of my brothers came home from college for the summer, so things were a little reminiscent of that Chinese saying around my house: "May you live in interesting times." I know it's usually meant as a curse, but I rather liked the variety.  Of course there's always the possibility of too much of a good thing . . .

My sister got married this summer, too.  Life has been both very stressful and very boring.  And I have no idea what else to say about any of this right now.  So.  If you haven't seen some of what I have been working on through Instagram, here's a quick update:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Some Truth For Today

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Year, Another Owl Calendar

The Owl Calendar is back!  And I've submitted another piece.  Head over to My Owl Barn to create and download your own calendar, or just follow this link.

Check back soon to get more of the story about how I created this piece!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October the Twenty-Fourth

"'Where am I, and what is the time?' he said aloud to the ceiling.

'In the house of Elrond, and it is ten o'clock in the morning,' said a voice. 'It is the morning of October the twenty-fourth if you want to know.'"

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 1

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Some Truth for Today

Pictures adorning Renaissance altars and palace ceilings were valued as high art in part because they communicated a sense for the sacred. It has been a long time since traditional, hand made arts have aspired to that role.

 - David Apatoff, Illustration Art

Friday, May 3, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

I stumbled upon Sandra Flood recently - quite accidentally.  But I really like her work, there's a narrative/character study aspect to her work that sparks my imagination.     And I love the loose application of paint; how she lets the underpainting show through.

She's self taught, working in oils and lives in New Jersey.  You can see more of her work on her website here.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dragon Tamer . . . Again

Housewives didn't kill me last weekend.  But this past week has been really difficult for a number of reasons that I don't want to get into.  Still plugging away at DT.  I have piled masses of color on it in Photoshop and I think I've found something.  I hope.

Where Dragon Tamer is now.  

Where I was going originally.

This is a little too dark, I think.  
But I have a tendency to leave my pieces too light, so . . . 

There are still a lot of aspects that I am struggling with, but I am happy with the overall values and I think that pushing the dragon back a little as far as value goes is going to work.  Hopefully the final wont be the riot of color that you see here.  I'm still not as comfortable with Photoshop as I should be.  But I think I have enough here to make informed decisions about my palette.

As you can see, I am no where near where I wanted to be by the end of last week.

  1. Dragon Tamer: new color comps and start on the final again.
  2. Clean my room (this is an epic undertaking, I may not survive, so if you don't hear from me again, that's why).
  3. Sketches for the New Commission - send them off for approval by the end of the week.
  4. Help my mom set things up for the Garage Sale this weekend (Again, I might die . . . or get mauled by housewives.  Whichever comes first).
  5. Review and edit my summary of the steampunk Little Red Ridding Hood story and lay it out in the format I am going to print the booklets in.
  6. Outline my plans for teaching art classes from home.
  7. Continue to revise, edit and research painting for sister and FBIL.
  8. Not die cleaning my room or setting up the garage sale or participating in the garage sale.
  9. Wash my dog . . .
  10. Start assignment for LPG class.
  11. Email sample images to art directors.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Some Truth for Today - And Some Whining

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you an episode of drama.

I don't know why I am writing this here, other than it has to do with art and I feel the need to get it out.  I am disappointed, again.  I told y'all that I hadn't been accepted in this year's Spectrum, that it was disappointing.  And it was really, really disappointing.  Not crushing; it's a waste of time to let something like that crush you when there's paintings on the board to be finished and ideas in the sketchbook to be processed.  But, still.

And I had another one today that I don't quite understand.  I am on the verge of tears (quite annoyed about that) and I don't know how to process all of this.  I mean, disappointment and still plugging on despite it - that's part of life. Even more a part of being an artist.  But that thought really doesn't comfort you in the midst of the disappointment.  I feel like I've made strides - I am certainly a better artist than I was at this time last year.  But obviously I still have a lot to learn.

You know on this side of disappointment, when there's nothing to balance it against, I am in danger of loosing perspective.  That's the real danger.  That's what I have to walk (or run) away from with intention.  Because really, I'm only disappointed that no one recognized what I feel I've gained over the past year.  And while recognition is important, it's not the most important.  Art needs to be made for it's own sake - whether or not someone's there to applaud it in the end.  Because I enjoy making art.  I enjoy telling stories.  And if I let external things start dictating where I find joy in this process then I might as well pack in the bag now.

The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.  --C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
There's a story that I really love about the composer Bach.  He had composed this new piece of music, practicing it over and over with his musicians until it was absolutely perfect and had scheduled to play it at a church.  Well, the day came, and Bach and his musicians had shown up to put on this concert when the caretaker had walked up, mortified, and said to Bach:

"I'm sorry, sir, but no one has come to hear you all play."

But Bach (oh, how I love Bach) just waved it off, and said, "we'll still play," turned to his flustered musicians and said, "get ready," and Bach filled that empty church with his music.  

Now I first read that story here (and it's a great article, you really should read it, the story is told much better by Ms. Clarkson), and something written there has really stuck with me and I've been thinking about it a lot, lately. Bach "understood that the music you make carries a beauty that is meant to be given, played into the world regardless of audience or recognition. It wasn’t about him. It was about what God had given him to create. He played it because it had to be played whether anyone heard it or not."

So I guess in the midst of this, that's what I need to hold onto.  

Though it would be nice to be making money with art at some point.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Much Needed Update

My dog got bit by a snake last week.  That was interesting, for lack of a better description.  The vet said all the rain we've been having has flushed the sankes out; he already had three other dogs come in with snake bites.  She has cancer and she's blind, so I think we need to start adding "the indestructible" to her name.  She's been such a good girl though all of this, no complaining at all!

So, updates.  I'm trying out Glipho which is a social media site that's compatible with Blogger, Tumbler, and a bunch of other sites.  As of right now, it looks like I can't set a time and date for the post to be published, but I might be able to work with that . . . I'll let you know how it goes.

I entered Spectrum, found out that I didn't get in which was a let down, but I'm moving forward.  

Haven't gotten the new cards yet - they should be here by Thursday.

Justin Gerard, Cory Godbey and Chris Koelle's Lamp Post Guild is up and running, I am taking one of the classes with them.  About to start the first assignment later this week - again, I will let you know how all that goes.  

I have a commision (my first one! (Save the Dates for siblings don't count)) which is exciting.  Starting work on that this week.  

I also, in conjunction with the postcards I ordered last week, have been trying to figure out what I need to do for future promo pieces.  I've come to the conclusion that I need to do something that really exemplifies who I am as an artist, something that shows where my passions and interests lie.  

Defining my passions and interests was easy: story.  Working out how that can be developed into a tangible mail-out or email isn't as straightforward.  But I think I have decided on a place to start. Maybe.

I'm going to take some of my stories and some other people's stories (public domain) and create a small series of ilustrations and spots for each.  I'll create a summary of each of the stories and lay them out with the illustrations, print and bind it in a booklet to mail to publishers.  Hopefuly it will show that I have a concept of narrative illustration and layout, etc., etc.  

Now part of the problem is that a lot of art directors seem to want emails - but maybe that's not a problem at all.  

I'm going to start with my Steampunk Little Red Riding Hood, maybe Dragon Tamer (when I'm finished) and then probably something by Dickens - Tale of Two Cities or Christmas Carol, I think.  Eventually, I want to take a public domain book, fully illustrate it myself, hand-bind a few copies and self publish.  Tale of Two Cities is where I'm going to start, I think.  But that will be a project years in the making, so we'll see.  But that's potential-future-maybes . . . 

In the meantime I am also trying to get set up to teach some art classes from home . . . And then there's the gift I'm painting for my sister and future-brother-in-law . . . Yeah.

Right now, my goals for the week are . . . well, it's me, so there are a lot of them:

  1. Dragon Tamer: new color comps and start on the final again.
  2. Clean my room (this is an epic undertaking, I may not survive, so if you don't hear from me again, that's why).
  3. Sketches for the New Commission - send them off for approval by the end of the week.
  4. Help my mom set things up for the Garage Sale this weekend (Again, I might die . . . or get mauled by housewives.  Whichever comes first).
  5. Review and edit my summary of the steampunk Little Red Ridding Hood story and lay it out in the format I am going to print the booklets in.
  6. Outline my plans for teaching art classes from home.
  7. Continue to revise, edit and research painting for sister and FBIL.
  8. Not die cleaning my room or setting up the garage sale or participating in the garage sale.
  9. Wash my dog . . .
  10. Start assignment for LPG class.
  11. Email sample images to art directors.

That's enough.  Right?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Some Truth for Today

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books.  It is the last book in a series of three stories that started with a retelling of Swan Lake.  All three are illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg.  I love them.  They resonate in a way that I still cannot define.  So I thought I'd share this piece:

"Though once I was a singer of tales, they were not very good, for I always put too much of my heart in them, and never enough (I was told) of calculation.  Where others would captivate and entertain, I would only sing a simple song that bent its head as if in prayer before time and truth and love.  It was all I  could do, and all I wanted to do, and I don't know why.  I followed nature's wild rivers and God's glittering lights, and they led me into a land where I was alone.
. . . Long ago, in the time of the old emperor, I was young and just beginning in my profession.  The usurper was there, and one could not escape his evil presence . . . there was a struggle between what was, in the main, good, and what was, in the main, evil, and that time after time the good prevailed made the children born in my time believe that this was the natural order of things, that even if it took a great deal of effort, effort would always find its reward and the just would triumph, as would the innocent.  
I still believe, which is why I am on a hillside waiting.  And I certainly believed then, even as the usurper began to gain the upper hand. Surely, I thought, the crimes that bring him power will soon bring him down . . . I did not change my songs, as did the other singers who listened carefully to everything that was new, and soon I found that I was nowhere, they were everywhere, and the usurper had taken the throne.
Can you imagine my surprise the day that he sent for me? Why would he bother with a singer of the old songs?  Why would he bother with me?  But he did bother.  He cared inordinately . . . I was so afraid that my heels shook as if in an earthquake.  As soon as he began to speak, however, I realized that I need not have feared.  Either he would kill me, and I would have eternal peace, or I would beat him with courage alone.
. . . I was expecting to die right then and there, but he said, "I order you to unravel your singing."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Unravel it!"
"Meaning, sir?"
"Your songs," he said impatiently.  "Undo them."
"I can't. The're already sung."
"Then sing them again, differently.  Sing them so that they are about me.  Sing them so that when people hear them they will weep for my sacrifices and admire my powers."
At this I laughed, which must have astonished him, knowing as he did what he had in mind for me.  "I would not laugh if I were you," he warned.
"Why not laugh?" I asked.  "I know how you will torture me, but I know that I will not sing the songs as you would have me sing them.  You might as well try to burn water, because I'm water, and water doesn't burn."
I spent then the next years of my life - the longest years I remember - in the deepest torture chambers underneath the loftiest prisons.  By some chance or interference I refused to die, day after day, until finally the armies of the young queen captured the city and freed us all.  No longer a singer, and fit only to be a soldier, I joined the victorious armies just as most everyone else was leaving them.  Of low rank, broken memories, and no prospects, I knew nonetheless that a new struggle was inevitable.
 . . . "Why didn't you simply alter your songs?" he asked, gazing at my scars, of which there are so many that even to this day I can be only a man alone.
"I couldn't."
"They had already been sung.  They existed."
"But why not change them as requested?"
This question puzzled me.  "Never was there the possibility that I would do that."
"Why?" Notorincus pressed.
"I suppose it's because they're like people," I said.  "They may be like dumb or ugly people, or people who are deformed, but I couldn't just take their names, annihilate them, and issue new ones, could I?"
"I suppose not, if you think they're like people but are they really?"
"Yes," I answered, nodding.  "They have in them something, sometimes a great deal, of the people I love, some of whom are lost forever.  Therefore, I could not have split them like wood, or carved them like stone.  It would have been a betrayal, and it would have corrupted the world."
"The whole world?"
"Just my part of it," I said, "but this is, after all, the part for which I am responsible."
"You would have died rather than abandon the old songs?"
"But life is so precious."
"It is paramount."
"No? Then what is?"
"Love," I said, "and honor."
"Excellent!" said Notorincus. "Excellent! . . . And you?  Can you still sing tales?  The queen loves the singing of tales."
"No," I answered.  "I cannot.  I have in me only one more tale, and I must wait to see it before I can sing it.""
The Veil of Snows, Mark Helprin

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Contact Cards and Postcards

Just put in an order for new contact cards through, along with a set of postcards.  I love the quality of the paper they use!

Also, your first order through them is 10% off . . .

Sorry, I've been so bad about posting.  I will try and keep you abreast of developments, but other than working on postcards, Dragon Tamer, and another project I can't tell you about, I haven't been doing much of note.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Some Truth for Today

When I tell you that war is the foundation of all the arts, I mean also that it is the foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of men. It is very strange for me to discover this, and very dreadful, but I saw it to be quite an undeniable fact… I found, in brief, that all great nations learned their truth of word and strength of thought in war; that they were nourished in war and wasted in peace; taught by war and deceived by peace; trained by war and betrayed by peace; in a word, that they were born in war and expired in peace.

John Ruskin, Crown of Wild Olive

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some Truth for Today

It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Some Truth For Today

The more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Vincent van Gogh

Friday, March 8, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

Frank Duveneck was a Kentucky born painter of German descent.  I can't find a lot of art by him or even tell you exactly what it is that attracts me to is work, but I thought I'd share and let you decide for yourself.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some Truth For Today

I must continue to follow the path I take now. If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost.

Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Some Honesty

As of writing this post I am discouraged.  Dragon Tamer is not going well, still.  Color comps are piling up and nothing's working, I feel remarkably unproductive.

After much procrastination I have finished 2 other projects, which is good.  You saw one of them on this post, the other is my sister's Save the Date.

I am distracted by everything lately.  And none of my distractions feel productive.  I feel rather worthless.

I am at war again - I'm not sure what I am at war with: myself?  The world?  God? I am also not sure what this fight is about.  But I feel anxiety welling up again, I'm entering a state of hyperawareness, analyzing everything, every word, look and action, trying to find some kind of meaning some sign of I don't know what.  I feel dissatisfied  but I don't know what about.  I've jumped and I don't know if I am in the middle of a free-fall or just waiting for my feet to hit the bridge.  Or am I supposed to fly?

Anyway, enough of that.  This was a nice note for my week.  If you don't already know, I am on Tumblr.  I am also on Instagram.

Whenever I get lost with a piece or when I start feeling "off" in my drawing abilities, I like to go back to basics.  So I drew a lot of hands and noses yesterday.  And ears.  Here's a few pictures:

This is for a super secret project I can't tell you about - just in case the person it's intended for visit this blog in the near future.

Anyway, I aim to drink ridiculously dangerous amounts of coffee and get out of this funk by next weeks post.  Sorry this one's a day late, but, that's life.

Have a great rest of the week!

Friday, March 1, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

Edgar Alwin Payne was an American painter and muralist.  His landscape paintings capture the grandeur and  majesty of the West. In some ways he reminds me a lot of N.C. Wyeth.  You can find more examples of his work here.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some Truth For Today

People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Forays into Marketing

I've been researching into this a lot, because, well, I want to illustrate for a living.  There are some very interesting things out there to help the emerging illustrator promote themselves, but I am honestly confused by the massive amount of information available.  I wish there was one place you could go to get a step by step guide on "How To Be A Working Illustrator And Promote Yourself", but everyone seems to have their own opinion.  I'm at the point that I figure I'd better just jump in and see what works.

So I think I'll be making several of these "Forays into Marketing" posts to chronicle my personal experiences, 1. to look back on and reflect later, and 2. in the hopes that my journey might help some other people.  Because this isn't a working illustrator's blog, it's mine, and I'm nowhere near working full time as an illustrator.  Hopefully reading about me being honest with my struggles and making mistakes as I make them will help someone else.

I mentioned some books I have picked up in this post.  I've been trying to compile a list of publishers I can send postcards to, and it's been . . . interesting.  Some publishers don't post their addresses and some don't want to look at unsolicited work, etc, etc.  And then some of the contacts in the books I mentioned are  purely for writers, no clear instructions for illustrators.  Gah!

I have also looked at the past year's contest winners, like the Chesley Award and others to try and get recent art director information.  I've turned up a few that way.  Still, my list seems pitifully small.

Another idea that I am wrestling with is this idea that university put in my head that my promo pieces have to be "memorable" and "unique".  Part of me wonders if that isn't just trying to guild bad or mediocre art.  But if you have good art AND a memorable promo . . . Ugh.  I'll never get anywhere with all this.  Also, no illustrators that I've seen or tried to Google post pictures of their promo pieces.  At least the unique ones don't.  Which I can't blame them for - if you have a unique idea why put it on the net for a thousand other people and their moms to steal?

Also, I only have three new pieces for my portfolio, and they're kind of on a higher level than some of my old stuff.  So do I start sending things out now? Do I wait till I have 8 or 9 new pieces?  Which at the rate I'm going wont be till December.  Of course I'm asking these questions like there's a right or wrong answer . . .

So changing topics before I start questioning the meaning of the universe - here are some sites that I am considering using for printing my promotional pieces: - multiple card in one batch for the same price
Overnight Prints

And Mailing Materials:
ClearBags - what I use for packaging the prints I sell in my store
E-SupplyStore - what I use for mailing the prints I sell in my store

Now, I also have a large format printer that I can use to print out my own promo pieces, but I am considering the time/cost benefit of that.  It's obviously cheaper to make everything myself, but the time I'll have to put into it might make some of the above services more effective as far as time goes.

I remember different people saying in school that 50% or more of your time should be spent on promoting and marketing yourself (holy crows).  I'm not going to lie - I cringe whenever I remember that.  But we'll see how this goes.

In other news, I've recently made a change in my life to devote more time to art, which is where I am supposed to be.  I am nervous and questioning my sanity a little, but it was past time for a leap of faith.  Basically, I quit my job and am taking part time work so that I can focus more on my art.  I think I'm walking around with a permanent deer in headlights look on my face . . .

Also I am sick again.  That's 4 times since September.  The cells in my body are conspiring against me.  But they won't win . . .

Friday, February 22, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

Illustration from The Dark Fiddler: the Life 
and Times of Nicolo Paganini by Aaron Frisch

Gary Kelley is an illustrator who has worked in all areas of illustration, editorial, books, advertising, etc.  You've probably seen his work if you've ever stepped into a Barnes & Noble; he's the one who did that great mural you see over the coffee shop area of all the authors.  He also teaches with the Illustration Academy.  I met him once when I was in school and he's a really cool guy.  Loves jazz.  As far as I can tell, he still lives in Iowa.  He works in oils and pastels.  And he's awesome.  There's a lot of his work on his website.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Truth For Today

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. 

- Albert Einstein 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pitch Perfect Musical Swap Process

While the piece I did yesterday isn't really in line with the rest of my work, I proved to myself a few things that I thought I'd share with you.

I'd never seen Pitch Perfect before I got the sketch, actually hadn't even heard of it.  I didn't know who Fat Amy was, was completely clueless as to what horizontal running was referencing.  So I do what I usually do when I have no idea what something is: I call my younger sister.  And then I Googled it.  And once I figured out what I had been handed was more than a little intimidated.

I downloaded as many photos of Rebel Wilson as I could find and wondered all day what I was going to do.  That night I watched the movie with my friend Cathy and found some kind of affection for pieces of the story and the characters, and with that tenuous interest developed I stumbled on an idea and ran with it.

The biggest problem was that I didn't have any photos of Rebel Wilson in the pose that I needed - and even if I did, I'm not sure what would and would not be considered plagiarism in using a photo of someone as inspiration for a final painting.  I've also never done any kind of caricature (not that this was going to be one) or even tried to create a drawing of someone without good reference for what I was doing.  But I ended up finding two photos with the same-ish lighting that were kind of what I was looking for and I did a sketch or two to see if I could combine them into what I was looking for.

A week is not a long time to throw something together, so there was no time for second guessing.  It was close enough.  Combined with a photo I took of myself in the pose I wanted, I think I managed pretty well.  

I ended up doing the whole thing in watercolor and colored pencil - no acrylic under-layer   I missed that piece of it, I think, and I will keep doing the under-layer in acrylic.  I'm not quite sure what the difference was, just that I didn't feel that the watercolor was going down the same way.

So then I scanned it in and did some editing and created the background in Photoshop.  You can see the final piece here, along with the sketch I did for Sound of Music.