Monday, April 21, 2014

Model family

My poor family often gets called to model for me, especially when it comes to those tricky hand positions. One of my characters in the wilderness book also plays a flute and I drew it in one of the interior scenes. Just happened to have a flute in the closet (played long ago in high school), so I pressed it into service as well.  Afterwards, I played my flute for the cats. They didn't like it much. Maybe they were mad they didn't get to model.

Drawing from life, indeed!


Monday, April 14, 2014

SCBWI conference a sip of creative oxygen

I had a break from final book art work to attend a day session at our Iowa SCBWI spring conference this weekend.  As always, good to connect with fellow writers and illustrators, absorb new ideas and directions, and be reminded that my “Climbing Mt. Picture Book” metaphor doesn’t describe an isolated adventure. Others are there trudging along too, on their own trips with similar tales of success and setbacks to share. Although a crowded mountain is not a good thing on any Everest (see link and photo below!), there is contentment in knowing I am part of a collective who passionately try to create books that children will love.

Now, back to the climb. My creative oxygen is flowing and enthusiasm remains high, but I’m running low on mental energy! Excited to report though, I can see the summit ^ from where I am today.

This is the image I have of fellow climbers toiling up Mt Picture Book. Their backpacks are full of lap tops and manuscripts, portfolios and rejection letters! Some have published books and awards, too but that sometimes doesn’t make the climb much easier. I snagged this photo, taken by mountaineer 
Raif Dujmovits, from an article written by Dujmovits in The Guardian. It illuminates  the very real problem of too many climbers on Mt Everest. Kind of fascinating! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rest Stop, colored

The original, uncolored, for comparison

Monday, April 7, 2014

j'aime la couleur!

With the start of the current book project, I thought I'd invest in a new set of watercolors. In the past, I've used a combination of gouache in tubes, and Dr. Martin's dyes. The tubes have always been messy and do dry out if I'm not attentive with lids, so I wanted to give cake type paints a try. Friend Jennifer Black Reinhardt, esteemed watercolorist/children's book author/illustrator among other titles, recommended the French made Sennelier brand, so I bought some.

To open the lovely black metal box is akin to the thrill of opening a box of chocolates. They present so beautifully, I can't help but make inspired art! Upon loading my brush with water, I got spooked momentarily by the pristine little blocks of color.  I started by making a simple color chart (even though a clear acetate one is included with the set) and this helped "break the ice". I did my first colored pieces for the book over the weekend, and love the creamy texture of these paints.

Viva la l'illustration traditional!

(hope I translated that right!)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bee Season

First bee of the season. What it collects honey from at this time in Iowa I fear I don't know.

I wonder how intense bee-keeping is? Maybe I'd do better just sticking to planting and caring for pesticide free gardens filled with flowers they like.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rest Stop

Working, working, working...

At this point in a book project, I think I've arrived at my own personal  Death Zone in that Climbing the Illustrative Everest analogy. The enthusiasm is all there, but mind and body are beginning to weary. Hallucinations must be close.

For a break (and to work out some technical printing issues I'm having), I worked on a composition from last year, a little piece inspired by a rest area we stopped at outside of McMinville, Oregon. The Douglas Fir towered above me and my fellow travelers (I didn't exaggerate the human scale here!). Taking a stretch under the dappled summer light offered complete restoration before continuing our journeys, back into Subarus and CRVs.

Haven't had time to color it, but thought it might be interesting for you to see what value does in between all those tree trunks, before and after I add color and shadow. It looks chaotic now, but there is a pattern in there! I'll post the color work when I finish.

Rest. Stop. Go.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Of restoration and uncertain harvest

Just had a week in the Pacific Northwest, a nice break from work and snow. All the spring flowers were out there and I long to draw and scratch some, but the book is beckoning to be finished.

The mudslide in Snohomish county, WA (about 45 minutes north of Seattle) has me grieving for the community. Washingtonians are made from tough stuff; keeping up on the news of recovery has me daily inspired. The clean-up is grim though; indeed, they have uncertain harvest in their future. One victim described the devastated area as not even a junkyard, but more like a landfill.

This morning, I pause to hear the hope of spring in our birds and send strength to those in the search efforts.

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;

And give us not to think so far away

As the uncertain harvest; keep us here

All simply in the springing of the year.

—Robert Frost, excerpt from "A Prayer in Spring"

Wild cherry, Oregon grape, rhododendron,
taken on the University of Washington's campus