Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hail and Farewell Augustus

A new personal philosophy formed while I was recently shopping and had to look past all the fall (even Halloween) decorations clogging the aisles. Reader, it was only July! All of a sudden, I had seen one too many jack o’ lanterns. The whole retail calendar has gotten out of hand, tricking me into thinking I must prepare and consume for an event or season four months in advance. I’m boycotting out-of-season purchases and getting back to real time, celebrating each month as I know them and love them. So goodbye August, named after that wild Roman Augustus Caesar- he threw a mean summer toga party, I am sure. August, long golden month, of cicada calls changing to cricket song, faded swimsuits, fading gardens, fruit abundance, Iowa school bells, and that slight transparency to the sky. In August lives the dog days of summer; I enjoyed their bark!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More prairie at my board

Sunflowers are out in full-faced bloom this week, just in time for a job on sunflower images. So gracious of Mother Nature to provide me with live models.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reference materials In-the-House (or Garden)

The internet is a real boom to the illustrator searching for visual reference. It's especially important when working on a piece that requires realistic details. Before Google, I used to hunt down photo reference (or "scrap", as we refered to it) in books and magazines, or try to take photos myself of what I needed. It was pleasant, but time consuming! Now, if I need a reference of say a zebra, I can google "zebra" and up pops 1000 zebra images. I can check that number of stripes with ease and create an accurate looking zebra from what I see.

Golden is the opportunity like a recent job, where I was assigned a monarch caterpillar; currently the butterfly weed in my garden is crawling with monarch caterpillars! How many feet do they have? Which end is the head? Are the antenae on the "back" end shorter than the front ones? The Answers were a click of my iphone camera away, just outside the door. Here's my reference and the black and white rough drawing that followed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Midnight in a studio

Working on a big art deadline is kind of like running a marathon; you must keep a steady pace for a sustained amount of time in order to finish the race. But sometimes you can misjudge and find that the last day, the last mile, you still have a long way to go.

I try not to work late nights anymore. But on a recent job, I found myself faced with this situation. The house is quiet; everyone else is snoozing away, including the cats. But I'm still at my board. It's midnight and I'm tired; I'd worked over several days but there is still a final stage to finished art. I need more than my trusty Pandora mix of music to stimulate me. Caffeine can be tricky on the night shift. I get too wired; drawing lines erractically and hey, I AM also wielding a surgery sharp exacto-blade! Wine makes me sleepy. And I almost never eat snacks. But I needed something, so I went up to fix a cup of peppermint tea and there on the counter, was a left-over donut from breakfast. We are not huge consumers of donuts, but a new neighborhood shop, Daylight Donuts, is a current siren call to our family on Sunday mornings. I eyed this blueberry flecked cake donut and thought, I'll see what carbs and sugar do to me and my deadline. It was delicious. About 15 minutes later, I felt reborn. I swirled the paint with gusto, scratched with precision, and finished earlier than I thought I would. I slept like a baby for a few hours and then shipped out the art the next morning. So, not that I advocate junky food as midnight snacks for stalled-out artists, but this time, it did the trick for me!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From the pages of my sketchbook: Mt St Helens

There is a saying around where I grew up. If the weather is beautifully clear and sunny, it's a Five-Mountain Day. It's meaning? You can see five wonderous mountain peaks within the Casade range all at one time- Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, Mt Adams, Mr Rainer and Mt St Helens. Mountains have always meant comfort and home to me, a powerful symbol of the Pacific Northwest. Whenever we fly back, I'm always a little weepy when the pilot points out these magestic giants from our 35,000 feet vista above.

Mt St Helens blew when I was in High School and I'll never forget this dramatic event. This summer, we drove to the visitor's center to show Lucy part of the story. The Johnston Ridge Observatory, a look-out point named for a volcanologist who perished that day on the mountain, offers a fabulous vantage of the crater. The alpine view is spectacular, and professionals climbers tell me the route to an even closer view is only a rigorous hike away. Even as Mt St Helens continues to rumble on and off, the flora and fauna have slowly returned. I sketched a few images to remind me of this renewal.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roadside Florist

In my Mom and Dad's neighborhood in Vancouver, Washington, there is a gardener who runs a little roadside cut-flower cart. It is self-serve. The cart has about 20 small "wells" cut out of the top. Each well holds one or two exquisitely formed dahlias or zinnias, all in bridemaid's dress colors. 25 cents a flower. There is a little slot where you slip in your money after selection. I got my mom a beautiful bouquet (she has dahlias herself but doesn't like to cut them), wiping out most of the day's stock. The next morning, I noticed the cart was replenished with all new blooms again. I did not see anything of the proprietor, but the business was Old World Charm to the core.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cicada Love

Cicada Love

Cicadas in the summer trees
Possess a choral expertise.
Tummy muscles trill in song,
all day long.

Armored body, jerky gait,
eyes that seem to contemplate.
See-through wings and legs askew,
you shed a skin,
And now you’re new!

You are searching for a wife,
to share your leafy insect life.

Prehistoric wonder bug,
Could another love your mug?

Good luck out there,
With Cupid’s call
and may you find your one and all.
I have one fear, I must confess
Please, do not fly up my dress.

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