Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Fun: Peter Sís Interview

Another one of my favorite illustrators. I think Peter Sís's work is fascinating... makes me want to get inside his brain to see how it works.

I should have posted this last week, but here's the link to the other author and illustrator interviews in this series.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Relief, Reward, and Random Happy Puppy

Relief: New client + 13 map illustrations + 3-1/2 weeks for finished art + fed ex didn't lose the box = deadline met/happy client/happy me.

Reward: New Notebooks! Which color to use first? (Why, red, of course!!!)

Random Happy Puppy: Well, wouldn't you be happy to have your own matching plush?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday Series: Scaredy Cat (#2 of 4)

I always like it when artists post sketches along with their finished art, so thought I'd do the same.

Does anybody else feel as if their sketching style changes frequently? I find mine does depending on what paper I'm using, and whether I'm drawing in pen or pencil. Mood and energy probably affect it as well. Just curious.

Here's #1 in this series.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday Map (on a Tuesday): Bangkok Spas

I'm a day late with this because it was a sunny holiday weekend around here. We relaxed and puttered around in the yard and I went off-line. (A rare thing!)

And if I don't end up covered in poison ivy, it will be a miracle.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Fun: Bruce Degen Interview

...from an archive of children's book author and illustrator interviews. Bruce Degen lives in my town. He's a really nice (and talented!) guy. I think this interview is from a few years ago...

21-Day Challenge Update: Full Plate

Know how sometimes you put too much on your plate and you can't manage to eat it all? (Or maybe you do, and feel sick afterwards...oh where am I going with this metaphor??) Well, that was me this month with the 21-day challenge.

Between the mega-map job (which will be wrapped up next week!) and regular work, it was just the one thing that I couldn't manage. But the good news is that not all was lost-- in the time that I would have spent on the challenge I was able to put together a rough 1/4 sized dummy of this story-- the one that I had been struggling with for so long to find a voice and a direction for the illustrations-- working at it little by little, every day. I am feeling very good about that!

So after next week when things calm down around here I plan to resume-- with the (at least) 15 minute a day writing exercise and regular sketching. (Might even find my way to doing a little more experimentation... I've never seriously tried my hand at gouache, and would really like to give it a go...)

In the meantime it's been so much fun (and inspiring!) to meet new people and see everyone's progress with the challenge. That's something I'll certainly keep up!

Monday Map: Down the Neuse River

This is from a few years back. Hmmm... hope I haven't repeated any maps yet. I'll have to take stock.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Random Quotes

"Just like children, anyone who regularly engages in the work of art develops a life filled with wonder, yearning, flow, and serious play all over the place. Is that childish? To me, it is the definition of being mature."
– Eric Booth, The Everyday Work of Art

I've dipped in and out of this book for a few years now-- time to sit down and read it straight through.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Series: Scaredy Cat (#1 of 4)

I had a conversation with my agent a few weeks ago about portfolios, and how it was good to include pieces that show a narrative (like the flying pigs.) She said many times an editor will like a single piece, but will ask-- "what happens next?" Because, of course, they want to see if an artist can sustain a look and a character and tell a visual story.

Good to be reminded of this.

Right now I'm working on black and white pieces that could be suitable for early or young-adult chapter books. Remember this sketch from a while back? I always liked it and wanted to rework it into something more... so here goes...

(And here's a great post about what one particular editor likes to see in a portfolio.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day in the Life

Last week Eric tagged me to do the "Day in the Life" meme that's been going around. Now that I think about it, an average day around here doesn't sound that exciting, except that working as a writer or illustrator you spend a lot of time in your head, so it kind of is! (Sheesh, I hope that doesn't sound psychotic.) So here goes:

- Up around 4:45, sometimes earlier, with coffee in hand. I know it's early. I can't help it. I usually read. Or catch up on blogging and projects if I have a lot of work.

- Then it's routine household stuff, making kid's lunches, getting them off to school.

- Exercise. Jog or walk or weights or the dreadmill (yes, that's what I call it...) if it's cold outside. At least 5 days a week. Otherwise I feel as if I haven't brushed my teeth.

- Then from early morning through the afternoon I'm in my room:

I'm thinking it looks bigger in pictures than it is in real life. (Neater, too.) It's actually tiny. But it's all mine, ha ha! (She says, laughing demonically!)

There's usually at least one cat in the window when the weather is warm, or a dog sprawled out on the spot of sun that hits the floor in the winter. It looks as if my car looms right outside, but I have a little part of my garden right outside the window that is filled with flowers and herbs in the summer.

I'll take small breaks throughout the day to check emails or read a blog or two. Sometimes I'll sit somewhere else in the house or outside with a notepad or my nifty drawing board (really just a panel of lightweight wood)-- just for a change of scenery.

When the kids get home it's more of the same, or we go out, or I play Mom-Taxi. Then when hubby gets home we catch up, cook dinner, go outside-- that part varies. If I'm really busy he'll start dinner-- he's great that way.

Afterwards we all read or watch a movie or a bit of TV. I rarely watch television, but the last few nights my son and I have been watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the travel channel. (My son loves to cook... though mostly things involving sugar and butter...)

Oh! I forgot the part about jetting off to Paris! But I'll save that for another day...

Here are some other typical days in beautiful and exotic locations... Elizabeth, Alicia, Frank, Eric. (I have to chuckle, since everyone says their own life seems so boring. For an outsider looking in they are so not!)

I tag whoever else wants to share...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Map: Garden in the Round

I have a wicked case of poison ivy on my leg from last weekend's gardening marathon. Sometimes it sneaks up on you a few days later and then you realize... uh oh.

But then I pull out my Poison Ivy Secret Weapon.

My hairdryer.

Yep-- that's right.

Point the hairdryer at the rash (without burning your skin, of course.) At first it will feel hot and tingly and you'll think you can't stand it, and then it will begin to feel that strange kind of good, like when you scratch. Do this for a few minutes and then slather the area with aloe. You will have hours of relief... really!

From what I understand, the heat from the dryer releases the histamines in the rash. That's the nasty part that makes it itch so badly. Doing this every day will also help dry it out quicker. Then you can spend your time pondering what purpose poison ivy has on this earth.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wanted: More Hours in the Day

Ack! No time today, my friends, for a long post. I plan to catch up on reading and commenting and memes and 21-day challenges and life in general soon... (and yuck, grocery shopping, too...)

In the meantime here's a helpful site called Posemaniacs, found via Danny Gregory's blog, for when you're in need of figure drawing reference. (Okay-- so it's not the same as a life drawing class, but still, I think this is really cool!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Series Samples: All Together Now!

And finally, the pieces all together.

This was for the poster competition at the recent NESCBWI Conference in New Hampshire. The theme was "Take Flight," and you could do anything, as long as it fit on a 20" x 20" poster. I wanted to do a sequence of pieces with a narrative instead of one single image. There was some really awesome work in the competition.

I'm thinking of doing a series sample each Wednesday... it's a great excuse to work up new ideas (...won't drag it out as long as this one, though!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Thing With Feathers

By this past Saturday I was feeling quite cooped up from my marathon-map-making-month and desperately needed to get out in the garden. (My garden was desperate for me, too, since I hadn't cleaned up from last fall...)

I was weeding and pruning away when I saw this Robin with a big fat worm in her mouth, perched on the fence:

Not so unusual for Connecticut in the springtime. But then I noticed where she was headed:

I'd been working less than 5 feet away from this Rhododendron and hadn't seen the nest. The mother Robin didn't squawk, or dive-bomb, or anything. I like to think she trusted me. And those babies sure were hungry:

Little things like this give me hope in this crazy world.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Art For Grabs

Robert Genn calls it the Mickey Mouse Bill.

What is it? The Orphan Works Act of 2008.

"Congress is getting pushed by big companies to change the way the copyright laws currently work. If you have deep pockets, you'll weather the change... But if this law is passed, you will be forced to register (for a fee!) every single painting, photography, lithograph, sculpture, or pot that you make. The current copyright – you create it; therefore it's copyrighted – will no longer exist." (–Message posted on the illustration listserv.)

Remember how difficult stock art houses have made it for illustrators and photographers to earn a living? Here's another level of bureaucracy that would do the same by changing current U.S. copyright laws (art is automatically covered as soon as you create it) to force you to register every single piece of art in order for it to be protected.

Somebody who wanted to use your art would have to use due diligence to find you, and if they couldn't, well, your work would be considered "orphaned" and they could use it free of charge. Problem is, anybody could say they tried to find you, but who's to say how much effort they really used? We all know there's way too much theft going on already. This would add to the problem.

In addition, this bill would potentially open the door for companies to open private registry services "for your convenience" (yeah, right), once more making a buck off the artist. Not to mention the companies that could gather up all these "orphaned" works, register them in the company's name, and resell them.

I don't usually rant on my blog, but I'm really tired of moneymaking schemes that take advantage of people who do honest work.

The Illustrators Partnership of America has made it easy to send a letter to your representative in Congress. And here's how to do it for people outside the U.S. I hear they'll be voting on this within days, so time is of the essence.

Pass it along.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Series Samples (#8 & 9)

And finally... we reach the end.

(Click here to see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 &6 and #7.)

Next week: Some background and I'll post the sequence together.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

21-Day Challenge Update: Days 5-8

"Life is short, art is long. Get the habit."
-Danny Gregory, The Creative License

Well, I've fallen off the boat for a bit. I missed two days of my 15 minute writing on Friday and Saturday. Call it the feast or famine lifestyle of a freelancer, but of course after I committed to this challenge the work started pouring in. And last week I got a huge map commission that will keep me swamped through the end of May.

But have no fear, I'm still in it. The thing is, I'm actually in it for life, not just the 21 days. (I'll bet most of the other participating artists are, too.) Because on days I don't get to the writing, I still at least scribble in my journal. Here are pages from yesterday:

I was thinking about simplified expressions, and then my brain started to go into graphic designer mode, thinking about shapes and balance on the page. Why was I thinking this? I'm not quite sure! Maybe it was the subconscious kicking in, having to do with things I've been reading and thinking about lately.

I hesitated to post these, because I was really tired and they felt like nonsense pages. But it's all in the spirit of sharing, right?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday Map: Stay & Play at Myrtle Beach

This was for an area guide to Myrtle Beach. Fun to see the final map in context, despite the fact that the colors are a bit off and there's a moirée pattern from my scan.

I'll post an update on my 21-day challenge tomorrow.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Fun: Or Should I Say, Friday Fright?

I'm on a roll here with Christopher Walken. Talk about the perfect voice to read The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe. So... turn off all the lights... close your eyes... and listen....

Or maybe you want to keep the lights on. I wouldn't want anyone getting frightened now...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

All Thumbs & 21-day Challenge- Days 3 & 4

Sometimes it takes a while to get the ideas flowing, and I'm one big ball of procrastination. So I play this little game: I make a page full of thumbnail squares and tell myself I have to fill up each one. Some are pretty, um... crappy, but others turn out to be good possibilities. It's kind of like inching my way in to that state of inspiration... but it really works. Try it sometime!

I've been sticking to the writing for 15 minutes for days 3 and 4. Work is busy again and I haven't gotten to it until the end of the day when I'm tired and cranky-- but somehow it leaves me feeling invigorated. This is something I've really needed to do. I'm enjoying it.