Monday, May 23, 2011

Progress, a micromovement at a time....

Yes,  I have managed to make some progress...somewhat slowly and painfully, but progress nonetheless.  I've drawn the beginnings of several pencils for the book dummy...these ARE only beginnings- there are many improvements and additions to be made (some of my post-it remarks and suggestions to myself are still visible on the scans)(which I've darkened a bit, since they are only pencil).  

(ha, new reminder to self- fix the headphones!  Those don't look like headphones, it looks as though she's wearing deflated earmuffs. Or figs, although that makes no sense)

(note to self-fix hand holding book, way too small proportionately)

(this one is still quite rough, just in the sketchbook, not yet on the 'official' paper)

I'm not yet sure that I'm going to use all of these- in fact, it is unlikely.  And as you can clearly see, they're just beginnings- I have yet to add any pattern, any background elements (although in keeping with the pages that I've already done, and my general stylistic vision- ho ho- background elements/details will likely be kept to a minimum).  

However, this bit-by-bit approach, although slow, seems to be the one that works best for me.  I have SEVERAL pieces at once on the go, so I can complete a little bit of one whilst thinking of the others.  I find this easier than working on one piece to completion, because when I don't know what to do/things don't seem to be working, I don't continue to fiddle and fuss (with possible disastrous results), I just move on to another aspect of another piece that I DO know what to do with (hopefully).  This project in particular lends itself to this approach...I'm still not really sure to what degree I should 'finish' the pencils. I have the impression that it isn't good to 'complete' too many pages for a publisher (it might give the idea that you would be unwilling to make changes)- so I'm not sure whether it might also be possible to make pencilled pages 'too good', too.... In any case, my current plan is to draw them up to the point at which I would begin to paint them (although I plan only to PARTIALLY complete the patterned areas- no point in killing myself- also, if anything would give the impression that I might not be willing to make changes...!)

And finally, for your amusement, something completely pointless:

Accusatory spoons!  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Behold! The amazing powers of procrastination, unleashed!

...well, what I have really discovered is that the very act of deciding that now is the time to do certain things that I am, for whatever reason, either putting off or hesitant to begin (i.e. dummy pencils) may actually result in my instead completing OTHER things that have long languished unfinished (i.e. yet ANOTHER  page of my picture book that has been awaiting completion for some time now):


 Hmm, the colours are a bit off...the table is actually a light turquoise colour...I'm going to have to fiddle around with the scanner's colour settings one of these days...(I'll probably do it when I'm avoiding some other task!)  Come to think of it, I had noticed some greens being a little 'off' a couple of times...this is probably related.  

...and I actually DID begin work on the dummy sketches after all... organizing previous notes and sketches,  followed by further thinking, image research,and yes, even some sketching has so far been begun!  It is actually turning out to be a fairly productive few days off.  More soon.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Another page (finally!) completed...

....not that it was completely executed in its entirety since the last post...I've been extremely busy with my job recently (which is, by the way, sadly, completely unrelated to art and/or illustration, but happily, related to another of my interests).  Although nearly completed months (?how many?) ago, I somehow managed to put off finishing it (partially due to a fear of ruining all of my so-far-satisfactory work with an unsatisfactory final touch?).  Enough was enough- in my zeal to update my site with newer work, I decided that it had to be finished.  You may remember having seen this at some point:

This is the first page of my book. The rungs of the crib are cut off by this scan, but I didn't feel like paying to have a scan done at the local copy place (until I need a high-res version to send out, that is).  I'll get back to working on the dummy drawings tomorrow.   I'm hoping to get at least a few good pencil drawings done for the dummy over the next week; maybe Illustration Friday if I have time (and find the theme inspiring).

I'm planning another postcard mailing- I've had quite a good response to the 'Spring' image; that may be the one to go with, although that won't be suitable for mailing to the children's market- I'll have to come up with something else for that (cue ongoing inner dialogue of doubt as to suitability of work for that market, etc.). 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Autumn & feather boas

Here it is, finally, for your viewing pleasure, the painted-in-colour sketch for 'Autumn'.  (So, in my mind, apparently, autumn is blood-red and wine coloured [and pomegranates look rather like beets], while summer is black and orange and spring is bright yellow and green.)  Still, on the whole I'm mostly pleased with these...I'll get to making 'good' drawings of summer at the very least (a bit of a mess) and perhaps others too (I used cheapo paper and it is quite buckled...not the best for a high-res scan even if I decide that the sketch IS acceptable- that's a big IF-) sometime soon.  'Winter' I might redo.  I quite like the pose but the pseudo-crystalline formation?  Ugh...not quite what I had in mind.  Surely something better can be done with the idea.  Well, in any case you'll see updates on this at some point in the near future.

What else?  Well, I went to another burlesque-themed drawing session yesterday; here are  a few sketches that are okay- no more, no less.  Not a spectacular session for me but fun nonetheless...:

No, she did not have (or wear) wings....this was for one of the contests, which involves adding something to the drawing, usually.  This one was- give her wings.  Hence the wings.

 Again, no...although props might not be out of the question, there was no giant bottle- it was another contest; this time the assignment was to give the drawing the appearance of a (presumably Art Nouveau!) poster or label.  I didn't really give it much thought until the last few minutes and gave up on the idea quickly...I decided that this was NOT on its way to looking Art Nouveau in the least...

Here, more use of the ubiquitous BOA.  Yes, I've officially had enough feather boa....I know, I know, I suppose that it's to be expected at these sessions, it's one of THE burlesque accoutrements, it's coy and flirty and sexy and all that....but I have found it very annoying the last couple of times I've encountered it.  Here, and in the previous sketch, it isn't bad...but there always seem to be a couple of poses in which there seems to be very little to draw BUT the boa- which I don't find to be either terribly amusing or otherwise helpful to me drawing-practice-wise  (I, for one, don't feel the urge to incorporate feather boas into my work very frequently).  Ok, ok, enough about that.  I'm sure that I'll see them again if I continue attending these drawing sessions, so I'll try to think positively about the whole thing.   Perhaps drawing feather boas will turn out to be a highly useful skill at some point, for some reason that I am now unable to foresee.

I'll be back with further news and remarks soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Autumn- sketch in black & white

This is just a quick update, a tiny little post before I go away for a couple of days.  Here is a sketch for 'autumn', the final season-  I'm not yet sure whether I'm satisfied with this idea.  Something about the woman's expression, combined with a certain other something about the way she's holding the glass reminds me of Aubrey Beardsley- this pleases and amuses me (although I hope that I'm not copying one of his drawings without realizing it!).  I'll finish painting it when I return; in the meantime some sketching may transpire, and I'll consider a colour scheme- but I'm not bringing my paints, not for three (likely very busy) days away.  I'll be back soon enough...!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

IF: bottled

Here is my entry for IF this week; the theme was 'bottled'.  This is obviously just a quick sketch, nothing more than silliness and the first thing that came to my mind (they're not even in a BOTTLE, it's clearly more of a JAR).  This fast and associative idea-generation seems to be the best way for me to get something done for Illustration Friday these days instead of agonizing over it- I mean, it's really just for fun- if I do indeed come up with something that I like- e.g. 'cultivate' a couple of weeks ago (which prompted me to rename it 'summer' and do a 'seasons' series), all the better.  Back with more soon- the final season still to come.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Well, here I am, fully a week later, and yes, once more I have completed a rough drawing for another season and little else besides- general busy-ness being once again the excuse.  Ah well.  By this time next week I want to have finished not only the final season (several sketches/ideas for it, at least, if not a reasonably completed drawing-sketch) as well as an entry for this week's Illustration Friday. 

This week's season is Winter.  I'm reasonably pleased with it- particularly because the 'annoying' sketches that I mentioned last week were 'winter'.  (They are still too annoying to post- but I will mention that I was thinking more along the lines of a woman curled up, rather than stretched out.)  I'm still not sure about my attempts at a 'crystalline' formation around her- this could be better executed. 

Well, that leaves Autumn....I have some thoughts.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I always intend to post more frequently.  I recently realized that one of the factors in my failing to do so is my tendency to put it off until I have 'more' or 'enough' material- be it  news, sketches or interesting thoughts.  The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy, and I haven't had a lot of time to work on projects, alas.  I did do some more sketches, though, developing the idea of depicting the four seasons symbolically (inspired by the IF drawing in the last post, which suggested to me an interesting embodiment of 'summer').  I completed a sketch of 'spring' that I'm quite happy with, and did a few for 'winter' that I'm completely annoyed with.  Typically, I am tempted to wait to post an entry until I have that elusive 'more'- in this case, another sketch that I like.  I am not, however, going to wait as I so often do- in spite of the nagging inner voice that says 'that's not enough, only one drawing? that's not very interesting' etc., I'm going to post the one thing that I'm willing to show.  Here it is, 'spring':

Winter and autumn soon to come (perhaps one at a time, even)!

Monday, March 21, 2011

IF: cultivate

I quite like this idea that I came up with for this week's IF; it's very quickly executed in my terribly swollen (and quite difficult to make scans from) sketchbook, but I'm thinking of doing a better version of it.  It might not be a bad idea to make this into a series of four seasons- this being the summer.  I like the strangeness of it. 
Speaking of strangeness...sometimes I wonder whether I'm just kidding myself. Is there really a place in kiddie lit for me?  Is that, in any case, what I'd really like to do?  Ideally, I know that I'd rather illustrate picture books for teenagers and adults...yeah, that's a lucrative market- lots of THAT kind of stuff around... I often feel as though my style is unfortunately between markets- too weird/creepy/non kiddie for the kiddie market, too naive,not slick (or sophisticated or collage-y or urbane or whatever, depends on the moment) for the editorial market.  It seems as though I'm just missing the mark everywhere... but what to do? What I do is what I do...and it seems to me that to be myself is the only way to proceed.  Some people will like it- it's just a matter of finding those people. 

My focus for the next little while is going to be developing new pieces for my portfolio.  I feel as though I haven't changed things around for a while- not that I haven't been doing anything, it's just that so few things have, shall we say, 'made the cut'.  I'm pretty happy with a number of the ideas that I've come up with recently just playing around and sketching (this IF being a good example).  Here is another recent sketch:

...which I developed further into:

(not sure that I'm happy with this, though...)

Another that I'm considering doing a 'good' version of:

 Well, that's all the news of note for the moment.  I am continuing my valiant (if insufficient) attempts to augment my online presence- I'm considering joining either lunarize (their winter 'publisher' gallery was sold out) or hire an illustrator (in order to further the aforementioned presence online).  I must follow up on mailings.  Oh, and do some more DRAWING, too... further sketching for client, pencils for dummy, pieces for portfolio.  Bonne semaine!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

IF 'warning', new commission, a few 'yuks'

...And so I have returned from a short trip to Florida, rested, relaxed and more ready than ever for spring.  My 'perruche' postcards have arrived, and I'm very pleased...tomorrow, the mailing will commence...

I haven't participated in Illustration Friday for a while now, much to my chagrin.  Yesterday, though, I began to make amends.  Here is my take on 'warning':

I'm also starting work on a new private commission that seems as though it will be fun- I've just done several VERY rough sketches (really to rough to show, sorry, although I may change my mind later), too rough to show the client at this point.  I'm going to do some more passable sketches to email to her tonight.  I'm really looking forward to this project- she seems very open to ANYTHING, but has given a few guidelines ('anything' without ANY guidelines can be hard).  I will be posting more on this at a later date... and work continues on completing my book in book-dummy form.  Lots to do...

Oh yes, I'm still doodling pointlessly for my own amusement.  For your perusal:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Perruche perdu 'poster'; further doodling for yuks

Well, I've completed the second side of my new promotional piece:

However, I'm not completely satisfied with my handpainted contact's a little irregular...Luckily, I scanned this before painting in the contact information, and added in the same information using photoshop- I'll use that for my cards.  (Here, once again, is the other side:)

I'm somewhat annoyed with myself, though, for not having checked the 'oversized' postcard template (vistaprint) before- it's a little more vertical than the standard, alas.  I'm unwilling to crop either image, but I'm not sure that the standard side will show the contact information sufficiently (it can't be too small; we don't ALL have eyes like microscopes!).  I'll have to do a test; if it's not clear enough, I'll consider either a) adding the contact information to the 'girl' side (just superimposing on the image) or b) painstaking photoshop additions.  This will not be easy on the 'girl' side (for this side, a 'frame' of another colour might make more sense), but fairly easy on the 'poster' side.  We shall see.  (And that'll learn me to check sizing details ahead of time!)

Finally, some more doodling.  Argumentative rival teas! Once again with the floating heads! Accusatory coffee!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Doodling for yuks and another attempt at 'perruche perdu'

As I promised myself that I would, I've been taking it easy and drawing more for FUN and with less self-imposed pressure- it's been good.  I can feel my mental muscles loosening... Here are a couple of, things... that I drew over the last several days:

the above faces the next:

(curse this non-spiral sketchbook, though!)

I did also finish another drawing that is a possible 'front' for the 'perruche perdu' card- I've painted a tiny version of the poster here; I plan to do the full-size version of the poster itself next.  I used the same background pattern here as I used in the piece with the two women...I may incorporate the pattern into the poster somehow, too- perhaps something similar to what I did here- just a simple black outline.  I'm working on NOT overindulging in detail overkill...

(hmmm...perhaps the pattern could stand to be a bit darker? )

As part of my recent campaign to relax and enjoy what I'm doing more, I indulged myself in a leisurely visit to the Grande Bibliothèque, where I found a beautiful and inspiring collection of the work of the early 20th century French collective,  'Le Pou qui Grimpe'(link en français only-sorry, didn't find such a thing in English) are a few pages:

More to come...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Various various

I finished the 'perruche perdu' piece that I was working on...s'alright; I'm not thrilled but perhaps am just not receptive to a work-based thrill at the moment.  I plan to continue with my idea of a 'series' for the next promotion-  'pieces' rather than a single image- soon.

I've been particularly frustrated recently (as mentioned in the post previous to this one) with setbacks on the 'flying' book project, and decided to NOT continue working on it in that particular state.  Instead, I've been working on... whatever comes to mind, just for fun.  Here is one such thing:

What is it? What does it mean? What is it for?  I don't know...but it was enjoyable.

..Here is the 'perruche perdu' piece:

I'm planning to work next on the 'flying' pages that I've ALMOST completed, which will give me more to add to my online portfolio (one point on which I feel a nagging self-induced pressure/anxiety).  I'll also work on a purely pencil dummy- Diane Dawson Hearn suggested on the PBdummy chat that doing more than TWO finished pieces in a book dummy would give the editor(s) the impression that you would be resistant to change.  (Thanks Diane!  I wouldn't have thought of that myself!)

Ok...that 's all for the moment.  Back soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Setbacks and revelations

Hello all.... I've been working but have little satisfactory finished work to show for it.  Yes, yes.... I will tell you my tale of woe...which comes, incidentally, complete with what I am trying to see as a positive outcome. (Oh, it is, it's just hard for me not to want things to work out perfectly, every time, and for everything that I do to be the BEST THING I've ever done, etc....).

So...I've been working on a page for my book...rather desperate to complete ten pages for the SCBWI grant contest as mentioned in the last post. ( I'd really wanted to have completed two new ones already! ) I have long had in mind what I wanted to do.... here are a couple of sketches:

...and here is the pencil drawing before I began to paint:

Well, it turned out...not well.  And it wasn't that I made any particular was difficult for me to put my finger on exactly what I was not pleased with.  This led to a fairly miserable mood in which I thought of other pieces that I've worked on recently that I had also been less than pleased with....and they  had something in common. But what was it?  And then I realized... that sometimes, my penchant for DETAIL is sometimes too much.... too much detail, on too similar a scale, is not as successful as if I were to use it sparingly or in greatly differing scale, if that makes sense.  I realized that that I had made that very error recently in the pieces that I consider to have been less successful.  My "Heidi" piece, while not terrible, used allover detail (sky and 'grass/flowers') on about the same scale, and the figures were detailed on a similar scale.  Same with the cover that I did for Crow Toes...  Hmmmmm....

So, I decided to minimize colour... in this version, I planned to 'grey/blue' out the buildings and just keep them lightly outlined...and to do a black outline of a pattern in the sky (didn't get to that point here):

...somewhat better, yes?  But then I was able to pinpoint a final criticism of the earlier pieces... again, related to scale.  I really am more effective at tight scenes, not crowd scenes, not 'pulled back' scenes.  A wide perspective isn't what I do best... particularly since I have the aforementioned tendency to detail everything.  Of course, these are things that I can work on... but another consideration is that I have already completed several pages of the book, and want to continue it with the same consistent 'look'...not that I am not already planning to change several pages...  so I began another version of this page:

with the woman's figure in larger scale.  This was difficult to convince myself to do- I'd really envisioned it containing her figure.  I may continue with both.  This one I plan to execute with the more minimal colour scheme also.  So, positive outcome (realization re. strengths/weaknesses as well as things that don't work so well that I will endeavor to reign in) follows despondent mood.

What else?  I started working on the 'perruche perdu' promotional piece; will post that soon.  Was planning to post that tonight but alas, a setback in that piece will delay me until tomorrow or the next.  I'm not terribly upset about this one...just something that needs to be done.

In older news, I went to another 'Dr. Sketchy' drawing session...liked the model a bit less (too much wig, too much feather boa-maybe I was just sitting in an unfortunate location)- but had fun nonetheless and did a few decent drawings.  Here's one:

Ok...that's it for the moment.  Be seeing you!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Perruche perdu and book dummies; oh my, yes!

It's about time for me to plan, execute and send out another promotional mailing.  In the past, this has taken the form of postcards- colour image on the front with b&w printed contact info/email address on the back.  However, for this next one, I may spend a little more money and print both sides in colour- in fact, I'm considering the possibility of doing two or more versions and sending them out as a series.  It won't cost TOO much, I'm sure...the magic and wonder of Vistaprint never cease to amaze. 

The idea is to make the 'info' side look like a poster- a poster for a lost bird; my contact information will appear where the contact information for the bird's owners would be.  The poster/info side will remain constant even if I do several variations on the front.  The front will feature various people whose connection to the lost bird are vague and open to interpretation- a story of sorts, but one that is lacking a certain amount of information and so is prime for speculation.   I saw such a sign in my neighborhood and found it fascinating!  (I also kept thinking about how I might improve the poster- how I would do it if it were MY lost perruche!)

Here are some of the sketches- please keep in mind that these are REALLY VERY SKETCHY-  I don't think that I've ever posted anything quite so sketchy before- to be honest, I feel a little strange about it- as though I were posting some kind of lurid and probably undesirable tell-all confessional.

These first two images were my first impression- I hadn't developed the idea in any particular way yet.  I imagined a woman passing the sign appearing very emotional, and I just quickly sketched the sign so as to remember what it looked like, more or less:

I developed the idea a little bit more (i.e. at all!) here:

Here are a few sketches of other possibilities- much less developed:

(I'm kind of partial to this one, though!)

(alas, it is not clear that the patinaed man is supposed to be a statue.  He is.)

And here is my sketch for the 'poster' side (still much work to do, obviously!):

Clearly, I'm still in the 'thinking' stage.  I'll be working on this project in the near future; will keep you posted on progress.  However, there's a couple of other things that I'll be working on...

First, I'm going to finish TEN pages of my 'flying' book (the wordless book) to my satisfaction (this, unfortunately for me, is not as easy as I would like!) in order to enter it for the SCBWI's Don Freeman Grant , one of the SCBWI's work-in-progress grants.  I have quite a few pages done...but, as I said, 'to my satisfaction'.  This must be sent in- i.e. postmarked- no later than the 2nd of February- therefore, it's something of a priority.  I love a deadline!  I do, I do.

I'm also going to work on the dummy for this project as part of #kidlitart's 'dummy' challenge.  The entire online group will be sharing their progress on their respective dummies from 6 January until June.  I plan not only to work on the dummy for 'flying', but also for 'Otto', another idea I've had for quite some time now.  It will be good to have a group- virtual or not- to help to keep me moving ahead and not...ahem... re-doing and THINKING about things endlessly as I am wont to do.  Until next time then....