Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring 2014 Demo Night at Ringling

Hello again! I'm back!

Well, sort of. There are 4 weeks left of Spring semester and so it's a bit frantic, but things have been going great!

I have some drawings that I can finally share online. These were for Demo Night this past Tuesday at Ringling College. I demoed how I create all of my black and white spot illustrations. Like these two fellas:

Technique is charcoal pencil on hot press watercolor paper. It's quick, versatile, and looks great when printed. Try it!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rabbit Trail of a Thought

A quick late-night rabbit trail thought for you to follow, if so intrigued…

I've noticed this old man in my neighborhood who always sits outside on his patio working intently on his laptop. He wears a headset with a microphone and has a stack of books and a tall beverage by his side. He's AWLAYS out there. I drive by several times during the day, and even at the end of the day, he's still sitting out there. He has invented a strong recipe for chair butt glue is my guess.

That, or it's his job and he's required to sit out there.

Or, it's his passion and he LOVES sitting out there.

I'm thinking it's the latter - which is really inspiring, and leads me to this next thought:

It's Sunday night and I am preparing for class tomorrow - Figure Drawing II for Computer Animation. We are having a critique and a pop quiz on some reading from Walt Stanchfield's book Drawn to Life. As I review the reading material, I find myself falling even deeper in love with art, sketching, storytelling. It's often confounds me that this is a textbook and that I have the great privilege to teach this stuff. Stuff like observation, emotion, the hidden truths of life, and how to show it ALL in a simple gesture drawing. As artists, we study things that most people aren't trained to see. Like angles in a pose…

"Some of the most graceful people are put together with 45 degree angles. Watch them - they seem to have studied how to play one angle off another to create those tantalizing poses. Sometimes the angles of cheek against neck, or hand against cheek are so subtle they are felt rather than seen." -Walt Stanchfield.

Meanwhile, other students at some other university are studying for a lab test on microbials.

But the artist - while we may not make a scientific breakthroughs that change the face of humanity, we do make pictures that reflect the beauty of life to those now living (and those yet to come), to imbue hope and restore love, to evoke an emotional catharsis, uplift and entertain. Does not this literally change the face - and heart - of humanity?

I feel there is a lot going on much deeper in art than we will ever be able to perceive…or appreciate.

To return to the old man sitting on his patio - in my mind I link him to this other quote byWalt Stanchfield...

" Hours and hours should be spent with anatomy books, old Disney films, and scenes of the old masters. Also much time must be spent flexing one's emotional muscles with 'essence' sketching, reading a great variety of authors - novels, biographies, psychology, metaphysics, and of course, humor. Don't be like a friend who used to say he was waiting for the 'light to come on.' Well, he was a real charming guy but he retired before the light came on. Moral: Don't wait. Immerse yourself in the search now."

I guess what I want to say in summary is this:  I am grateful to be an artist and a teacher. I have always been intrigued by spiritual things and how the life force is woven into our physical beings. It is a rewarding and passionate pursuit for God, beauty, knowledge and understanding -  a search worth immersing oneself in.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Life's like a Whirlwind

Whoa it's been over a month since I've blogged. Time is a flyin'! Like this Fall semester at Ringling - where did it go? Today was our final critique for 2D Design. Can't believe we went through 8 projects that fast.

Speaking of projects, I have become really good at keeping secrets. There are 3 different projects that I'm illustrating right now, and I can't show any of the process work or announce anything yet. AGH! Once I get the green light, there's going to be LOTS of new stuff to show.

Meanwhile, I did make it to our last faculty figure workshop. This time I tried out my gouache paints and did a few sketches. I liked the way this one turned out, the mark-making seemed to be simple and show form the best. Light side/dark side!

Something else kind of cool to share... 
I got to have a "mini showcase" in one of the illustration cases on campus. Here are a few snapshots of what I had on display. On the left are recent book illustrations, and on the right are a few paintings from my Guardians of the Heart series. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Educational Weekend


It's November 2nd. It's raining outside. And it's humid. It's also Saturday and a perfect opportunity for blogging about last weekend's incredibly enlightening workshops at Ringling College of Art & Design.

First, on Friday at lunch artist Bobby Chiu gave a lecture on what makes an image go viral. He used his own artwork as examples of which images appealed most to people and generated a reaction, and which ones did not. On average, the pictures with some sort of narrative idea, happy/funny/or awe-inspiring emotion/ or pre-established fan base did better than images that were just a nicely-painted character.

The one line that really stood out to me the most was when Bobby said, "Idea trumps technique every time". I have to admit that he's right! I came home that day and looked at a recent painting I did for fun that I was going to post on Facebook for Halloween. And then I had nice technique but there was no story, no emotion, no idea..well maybe a slight beginning of an idea. It was just a nicely-painted character in an environment doing the presentation pose. Uh oh.

So, the very next day I attended an SCBWI event on Visual Voice. My friend Fred Koehler talked about what makes an illustrator unique - things like your world view, how you choose to portray a character's body language, technical style, how you describe the scene and what palette to express the mood. 

The big takeaway for me was this: All your experiences affect your worldview and your voice (good excuse to TRAVEL!!!) Everyone has a unique voice. Get in touch with who you are, journal and capture the memories of life, and bring those details into your work and it will be authentic. 

We did a great exercise where we had to answer personal questions about our life, like "what is something that you saw that changed you forever". The purpose was to remind yourself about what makes you unique. The next exercise had us sketch from a prompt, and make two drawings. The first was how any old illustrator would illustrate the prompt, and the second was how I would illustrate it - being the unique, experienced individual that I am. It was a really thought-provoking exercise that again, made me come home and rethink my work and say to myself, "how can I make this more unique?" 

On Halloween Eve, I decided I would rethink my Halloween idea and make it into something more narrative and playful. So I sketched out this:

I didn't have time to paint it, so being inspired by Bobby Chiu, it occurred to me that I could offer it as a coloring page to my followers on Facebook as an experiment to see if it would generate any interaction. I went to bed and then it occurred to me again that I could make it better! So I got back up and reposted this:

The thought was, if I erase the pumpkin face, that will allow my audience to be creative and invent a face for the pumpkin character. And if they color it in and repost it on my wall, I'll give away the original painting that I made. I got two responses, maybe could have had more if I'd thought of it sooner? It was all a fun interactive experiment, and I feel like I really learned a lot from the process. 

Anyway, hope you found this helpful for your own creative process!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cobblestone Magazine

In July I was contacted by Cobblestone magazine to create a few color spot illustrations for their November 2013 issue. Today I got my free copies in the mail! 

It was fun getting to illustrate this colonial time period (which seems to be a theme lately considering my trip to VA).

Cobblestone has a fabulous website where you can learn more about the magazine, which is for kids age 9-14.

Oh Inspiration, How I Love You!

I recently went on a business trip to Richmond, Virginia to represent Ringling College of Art & Design at the National Portfolio Day, hosted at Virginia Commonwealth University. It was a really great experience and always fun to talk with eager students who are so incredibly talented!!

While out there in VA, I had a bit of spare time to go exploring. It was dreary weather all weekend, and on Sunday I got up early to attend church at Saint John's where Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" Ifollowed an old red brick pathway that meandered around tombstones that were so old the inscriptions had been worn off.

I love graveyards. They always stir me inside to appreciate life, rethink my priorities, urge me to pick up the phone and tell my family I love them. I love the indescribable feeling of pondering who the person was who is buried here, and wondering if George Washington or Patrick Henry or even Abraham Lincoln stood in front of the same tombstone when they visited this church.

This visit to the Saint John's church primed me for an even more adventurous walk to the Poe Museum a few blocks over. It began to rain and silly me did not have an umbrella. I was very damp when I arrived, and for some reason that feeling just made the experience of touring the Poe artifacts all the more lively! Rain has that affect of carrying off one's mind into deeper mystery and thought. All I can say is that it was REALLY COOL walking through the Poe houses, reading the original Raven manuscript, and marvelling at the very desk where Poe sat to write with it raining outside. 

To conclude my thought-provoking morning adventure, I happened upon THIS BOOK in the Poe gift shop. My day could not have suddenly become any brighter!!! This book is a gem written and illustrated by one of my favorites, Scott Gustafson. OH JOY!! Inside almost every page has gorgeous dynamic illustrations. I went to lunch after and poured over the pictures, making a copy of the cover in my sketchbook. J'adore! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Website Design, Same URL

I have a new look to my website!!

After running into issues again with iWeb, I decided to scrap it and set up a new fresh site. This new site has a shopping cart so I don't have to link to Etsy, and it has a built-in contact form so visitors can email me from the site. AND, it has a blog...which means I'm going to stop posting here on Blogger and try to move everything under one roof and see what happens. So please, stop by my new website and take a look! 

Thank you for following my blog (old and new!)