Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Card Time

Is it a searing indictment of our time? Or am I just jealous that I can't afford a smart phone?
Here's wishing we all appreciate the joy and magic wherever we find it this holiday season!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Which style is more super?

I am seeking input. I have always had an uneasy power struggle with the "line" in my illustrations. There are times when I thought I should hide my line completely, and paint the scenes and characters dimensionally in form (letting value and tone do the heavy lifting). At other times I miss the line quality of my sketches, and try an approach that keeps the drawing alive. Usually I'm somewhere in the middle. Even when an illustration is a detailed oil painting I generally don't hide my initial drawing completely.

So, I decided to have an illustration style smackdown with myself (...that doesn't sound exactly right...). I need to create a cover illustration for a story that I've written and am trying to get published. I did the exact same illustration, first in oils, then as wash over a drawing. Both pieces are initially created using traditional media, then scanned and finished in Photoshop. The one with the darker blue background is in oils, the lighter one is the tinted drawing. I am curious to hear comments. One look may be better suited for a younger audience. Does one look appear to be more dated? Please post your reactions to each, preferences, observations, etc. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Baseball Postseason Time!

None of the teams I root for, Red Sox, Phillies, Yankees nor Mets, made it to the postseason. Yes, you read that correctly, I believe in an inclusive world where one can embrace both sides of an intense rivarly. Call me a dreamer. So, in a salute to the playoffs (that I need to force myself to take interest in ) I will post some illustrations and sketches from a baseball picturebook proposal that I am looking to get published. The working title is Full Count, but at some point I'll need to come up with  less generic title. PLAY BALL!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A character for every character

I need an excuse to create more illustration samples featuring cartoonish people, so I've decided to make my way through the alphabet, coming up with a word for every letter to serve as a prompt for me to illustrate a character. As much as I love creating animal characters, I'm going to stick to humans for this exercise. Below is ABC, hopefully I will be able to stick to the routine of completing a few each month.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Ten Book Challenge

When you hear the word "challenge" most people are thinking ice buckets, but a friend of mine told me about another challenge. The "Ten Book" challenge. Name ten book that influenced you in some way. I took it to mean "influenced in a personal way" rather than artistically, although I suspect there are no hard and fast rules. And many books on my list would qualify for both lists.

Here's my list:
Yertle The Turtle by Dr. Seuss. I could stop here, because everything you need to know about human nature, society,  and politics is revealed in this book (really, its three books in one). I decided to limit the list to one Dr Seuss, but I could have included How The Grinch Stole Christmas because I love that the villain is converted in the end, rather than defeated. Horton Hears a Who because you're never too young for metaphysics. One Fish, Two Fish,, Red Fish Blue Fish ... Green Eggs and Ham.... I could keep going.

The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkein. Every notebook and textbook I had in eleventh grade was covered with drawings of orcs and dwarves. 

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. I enjoyed all the Narnia books, but this is the one that packed the biggest wallop. 

The Once and Future King by TH White. (full disclosure) only the first part, The Sword in the Stone.
I loved the way Merlin taught Wart about different societies by turning him into different animals. It may be worth noting that this is the only book on my list that was assigned reading in school.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. My kids never responded to this, but was, is, and always will be one of my favorite books ever. Don't ask me about the movie.

The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton.  I only have vague memories about the details in this book by the Trappist monk, but profound memories of being moved by the book. Maybe time to reread.

When The Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs. During the Reagan years I had constant anxiety about nuclear war. This book spoke to that, and also opened my eyes to the potential of the picture book/graphic novel format.

Into The Wild by Jon Krakaur. I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into Chris McCandless for being arrogant and foolhardy at the same time he was opening his heart to experience life. But the book moved me.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  I had a really long subway ride to my apartment in Brooklyn in the mid eighties. Perfect for reading about getting lost in the sewers of 19th century Paris. And I'm a sucker for the musical and the movie.

Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. In tenth grade I ate these up. I did not know at the time that this science fiction classic was all inspired by the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. And, I must say, these may be the only books on my list that didn't hold up to rereading. But in tenth grade...

And, if this list was about artistic inspiration, rather than personal influence, I would have included Nicholas Cricket illustrated by William Joyce, Treasure Island, illustrated by NC Wyeth, and Pinocchio, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti.

Thanks Jeanne, for inspiring the blog!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The close of my 2013-2014 School Visit Season

The World's Largest Jack Rabbit in Odessa, TX

Now is the time of year when the school year comes to an end, and similarly my “school visit” year has come to an end as well. In 2013-2014 I had the opportunity to visit many wonderful schools across North America. If I was more diligent at keeping up my blog I would have devoted a blog entry to each school, but since I am a sporadic blogger I’ll try to lump them all together in one entry.

I don’t think British Columbia and Louisiana come into direct competition very often (not a whole lot of curling on the bayou) but for some reason they seemed to be involved in a contest to see which one could delude me into feeling like a literary celebrity. They each booked me for a full week. In British Columbia I spent the entire week working with a school full of young authors at Taylor Elementary. It was a rare treat to be able to spend multiple days with the students, sharing first my author/illustrator presentation, then having multiple workshop sessions with each class.
This is me drawing a caricature of a contest winner
in Taylor, BC

In Shreveport Louisiana I spent the week visiting 6 different schools and participating in their city wide Art Break, where the city’s convention center is devoted to student art and performance from across the parish. And they had a definite agenda, and that was to send me home heavier than when I arrived. Fried green tomatoes, crawfish, and barbeque were among their weapons of choice.

I also got to visit my first military base school in Fort Leavenworth Kansas. I made it to schools in both Carolinas, Texas, and Ohio. I was able to visit family and friends while visiting schools in Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. I visited students in my neighboring state of Massachusetts, and finished up with a visit to a school in Jamaica (Jamaica, Vermont, just 45 minutes up the road from me).

Here a few things I learned this past year:

         1) In Canada they pronounce “The A to Z Mysteries” as “The A to Zed Mysteries.”
Coming in for a landing in Canada.

         2) To eat a crawdad, twist off the head, suck the juice out of the head, pinch the tail, pull out the meat (eat it), then suck the claws. And most importantly: DON’T TOUCH YOUR EYES FOR THE NEXT 48 HOURS! (the spices burn).
This a small serving of crawdads. Cathy and Louis Smith demonstrate the proper technique.
         3) The world’s largest jack rabbit is in Odessa Texas.

         4) In Hershey PA Chocolate Avenue is lined with Hershey Kiss streetlamps.

         5) There is a life size replica of Stone Henge in Odessa Texas (not sure if the Druids would know what to make of Armadillos).
Stone Henge, Texas style
         6) Vince-a-saurus, Maddy-a-saurus, and Akeem-a-saurus are a few of the First Grade Dinosaurs in South Carolina

         7) Kids who attend school on military bases do NOT have to salute their teachers

It was a great year, and I would like to thank all of the teachers, librarians, PTO & PTA parents, principals and community leaders who worked hard to make my visits possible.
A workshop with students in Clayton, NC
One of many royal welcomes in Shreveport, LA.