Thursday, December 20, 2012

Magic Train Ride a.k.a. Illustration Friday: SNOW or As I Call this one, December.

     It is almost Christmas and to day is yeah… Illustration Friday.  As much as I truly love Illustration Fridays, I am utterly exhausted.  I'm almost falling asleep at the er….. just kidding haven't done that tonight, but I admit it has happened in the past, falling asleep at the computer. 

     After a hectic week of candy making, pralines in particular (they are really the only candy i know how to make… other than covering things in chocolate,) and running around with last minute gift shopping, I am about to fall out.

     Needless to say today's post will be short, SWEET and to the point….

     This weeks topic is SNOW.  I chose to share another piece from my calendar portfolio, December.  I have to say I did put in a great effort trying to find my development sketches for this illustration, but all I managed to scrounge up was my final sketched composition before I inked it and took it to digital paint.   I am unsure as to what happened to the rest of the development sketches… my only guess is that they are in a VERY SAFE Place (as my friend Lou likes to say.)

     Again, as with November, I had the three main conceptual elements for this illustration:
1.)  You must illustrate a potential future vocation a child could choose.
2.)  You must include the major Holiday for that month.
3.)  Each illustration must include an element of fantasy and whimsy.

     As you may have already guessed, December is about Train conducting.  It is a real and very rewarding profession.  I have met a few real life conductors, in my time, and they seem very satisfied with their career choice. :0)  Obviously, I have included the Christmas Holiday and our elements of fun and fantasy are explored through our little conductor flying through the building tops Christmas Eve night delivering gifts to all the good boys and girls of the world from his magical flying train.  You may remember this particular train from a previous illustration I have blogged about…  That's right, the very same Juliet Express with a little bit of a paint job.
You might call this a shout out, but I just call it responsible recycling. ;0)

     Well, folks, as I stated above, I am VERY VERY VERY VERY VEYRVYERYVYEYRYVYERY… Sleepy.  I will leave you all to your hot cocoa, your cold weather, your long johns, your prety sparkly Christmas Trees or Whatever Holiday Decoration adorns your decked halls, chill mac (my favorite), your pralines (if you have them) and your Christmas dreams of Sugar Plums (though I have never really dreamt of a sugar plum, nor seen one in real life.)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. :0)

Till next time…    
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Illustration Friday: EXPLORE. The Best Use for a Broken TV Set, Ever.

     It's Illustration Friday! Yeah!  I am growing fond of these weekly challenges.  I get 100% freedom on a random topic.  I get to EXPLORE something new and fun every week outside of everything else.  This really appeals to an artistic hermit.  Traveling afar in one's imagination; very fun.

     This week's topic is "Explore."  I decided to explore an old piece that I had been thinking about revisiting and re-working.  Illustration Friday gave me an excuse to do so. :0)    

     The concept was originally used to meet an editorial need for an illustration to promote "unplugging" to the next generation.  I created a scenario where a young boy takes a junkyard television into his bedroom and converts it to his own little reading space.  A place where he can travel into the depths of his imagination and he escapes into a good book.  I decided that this young boy would be interested in Adventure and Travel books.  He is imaginative, obviously, but also resourceful and has ingenuity.  I also thought it would be cute and fun to draw giraffes.  I had originally played with the idea of other animals and children (I have included shots of the old sketches.)

    I had first rendered the image back in college day.  Though I had taken the image all the way to finish using acrylic, I still preferred it's "prelim" or preliminary state.  I liked the monochromatic sepia tones of the paint.  I felt that the prelim was actually superior to the finished illustration.  Even so, after all these years, I have toyed with the idea of revisiting the illustration and improving it.  Finishing it in another medium, possibly watercolor or ink and digital paint, as I so often do these days.  When I read the email disclosing the "explore" topic for Illustration Friday, I knew that I needed to pull this old friend out of the closet and re-work him.

     One issue I did run into was that I did not have the original sketch anymore.  For whatever reason over the years, it disappeared from closet or sketchbook.  I, fortunately, had a "cleaned up" version of it on tracing paper that survived.  I used this as a base to rework that final you see submitted here for Illustration Friday.  Besides my obvious abandonment of using a monochromatic color scheme, you will see that I added very few new colors to the mix... just enough to make it work, though overall there is still a very strong foundation of color based in brown or sepia, like the original illustration.  I also took this opportunity to develop the map that is taped to the back "wall" of the television and also the photographs.  These were originally planned for the first illustration but, again, for whatever reason were cut. 

    The collage medium has never occurred to me previously before last Friday when I was reading my emails and decided that I would not just re-post the old version of this image, but "EXPLORE" it again and recreate it new and improved.   I hope you enjoy it and perhaps are inspired to curl up with a good book on one of these Very Cold Holidays. :0)

Until then, as always...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

thumbnail ideas for original editorial piece.

possible adventurer. 

My first crack at the concept and composition. 


Tigers, Oh My. 
Tigers were originally the animal
our little adventurer would imagine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Illustration Friday: WHISKERS

     HOORAY! For Illustration Fridays!  For those Creatives out there, you should be on that site submitting either weekly or bi-weekly like myself! :0)

     Any way, this week's topic is "WHISKERS."  You all may be getting to know me by now and you might guess that I don't like going for the "too obvious" solution on these.  I LOVE Puns and Punny things.  I thought it would be fun and kind of clever to illustrate my whiskers by doodling this cat with a lumberjack beard, which is what are often called "a man's whiskers."
     I usually try to keep the visual solution, materials, rendering method and illustration process as SIMPLE as "Lewisly" possible... meaning how simple can Lewis live with and still be happy and efficient on this very quick turnaround.  I have made it my own personal challenge to create quick and satisfying art without over complicating it for these weekly challenges.
   Anyway, i hope you all enjoy my Lumberjack Kitty.  I had a lot of fun putting this one together. :0)

Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

BREEZE a Little Dream for Me.

     With the onset of Winter and all of it's "lovely" cold weather, I am reminded of a logo design competition I participated in last year.  I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI for short.  I amuse myself by pronouncing it "Sissahbwee."  This of course is only in my head as I would never pronounce it out loud this way for fear of being taken to the looney bin.  Anyway, our regional chapter, the Southern Breeze,  holds a small regional convention every year.  This year marked 20 years since the National organizations founding.  To celebrate, Southern Breezers (this is what we call ourselves… not just in my head) held a design competition to create a logo to be used for our regional convention. 

     The logo had to illustrate 20 Years, had to involve some sense of the national organization and employ only 2 colors.  I designed 3 logo submissions for this competition, each with it's own unique concept.

     1.)  This first logo personifies the God of Southern Wind, in this case Goddess.  I did some research (as usual, I know… Big nerd.)   I wanted to see how the element of wind was represented through Art History.  One of the ways was personifying the Greek or Roman Gods/Goddesses in a human and more accessible form.  They were known as the Anemoi.  Notus is the God of the South Wind.  He is one of the Four Wind Gods and as you can surmise, they are each in control of one of the four basic directions of movement: North, South, East and West.  Notus was associated with the desiccating hot wind of the rise of Sirius after midsummer, was thought to bring the storms of late summer and autumn, and was feared as a destroyer of crops.  He was associated with the desiccating hot wind of the rise of Sirius after midsummer, was thought to bring the storms of late summer and autumn, and was feared as a destroyer of crops.   He is normally depicted as a young man who looks to be in their late twenties, by human aging standards, and he has a set of dragonfly wings protruding from his back, like a fairy.  All of the wind gods have wings of some sort.
     I wanted to personify this classic Greek God in a way that was applicable to the concept of the logo design.  Instead of a feared God of the Summer Storm, Notus, is remained as a young Southern Belle, blowing the soft Summer Southern Breezes in a playful and fun demeanor.  This is yet another way I choose to imagine how inspiration and creativity is "divine" onto all of mankind.  The hot air balloons represent thoughts or inspiration blown into the world by the young Southern Goddess.  I integrated the number 20 into the design of the hot air balloons to not only illustrate the past 20 years or great young adult and children's literature that has been touched and guided by SCBWI, but to echo how this legacy will live on in 20 years or more to come.

     2.)  This next design had more to do with the 4 minor wind gods than Notus, him/herself.  There were four others that guided the breezes of life.  These four entities are known as the Anemoi Thullai or Tempest Winds.  They are wicked demons and were counterparts to the harpies (half vulture-half women creatures.)  They were always depicted as wild winged stallions whose manes whipped ferociously hither and thither throughout Art History.  One of the concepts I had come up with for this competition was a creative "play" on a weather vane.  This brief "dive" into Greek Mythology gave me everything I needed to create a logo.  I created  my weather vane, emphasizing the South East, with is our region, in blue which is one of the usual colors used in visually illustrating wind.  I also wanted to create my own visual "wind" that would emphasize the number 20 I had integrated into the silhouette of the winged horse.
 I actually played with a few icon/patterns before deciding on what you see in the final.  I used the air wave icon pattern subtly under "southern Breeze" to help further illustrate the element of wind and also bring a nice visual movement to the graphic as well. 

     3.)   This logo concept has nothing to do with the Greek Gods/Goddesses of the wind.  This logo is "rooted" in the ideals and visual comforts of Southern Literature.  I wanted to create a design where a book would actually come to life, as they so often do in our imaginations.  I wanted this one book to not only illustrate but also represent the history of all Southern Children's Literature.  I wanted this image to echo scenes we may recognize from the charming writings of Mark Twain.  I chose a day at the "waterhole" as my scene for this logo.   The movement and "breeze" is created by the motion of the boy swinging into the "pond/book" and by the dog that is chasing after him. 
     I used the graphic of the book pages in two clever ways to help illustrate this scene as well.  You will notice that four of the books pages are almost invective of water waves.  the other pages are fanning-out to not only help create the image of the summer sunshine, but these also create a motion not unlike the spinning/flickering frames of a zoetrope, there fore literally making it seem as if this story is cinematically coming to life in our imaginations.  I often imagine myself in a dark movie theatre "watching" the book as I am reading it… a fun detail I wouldn't be so normally apt to share with others, but we're all friends here, right? ;0) 
     The final element of the logo is the number twenty entertained and tangled into the limbs of the growing tree of knowledge.  It is branching out from the history of literature reaching out into the future of Southern Children's Literature.

     I have to inform you all that none of my submissions won.  I have posted below the winning logo design from this competition.

     I am a good sport as I have talked about in previous posts, though I am a very critical artist, particularly when it comes to the winning design.   I have to say that the winning logo is very nice, and I am quite certain it looked great on a convention tote.  I think it is well balanced, classic but not too conservative and well balanced.  I even like their choice in fonts.  I do have a few criticisms for it.  1.) I think that the concept was a bit oversimplified and not very creative.  The icon for SCBWI is a kite and I think this was a too obvious and uninteresting solution, conceptually.  Repeating the kite image 20 times is a bit too easy if you ask me.  Also, these silhouettes are stock.  I know this to be true because I recognize them from a website I like to visit as well,  The designer made NO effort to create the imagery on their own and I have to say that I don't find that really designing.  They copy and pasted stock illustrations of children flying kites and put some text to it.  Other than these few faults, I rather like what this designer did and congratulate them on winning the competition. :0) 

     In any case, I am going to go put my house coat on, budge up on the couch with a nice piping hot mug of red tea (my favorite) and watch a little bit TV.  Baby, it's cold outside and I have a date with the X-Files. :0)

Until next time, folks…
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Growing Up and Growing Together is an ANNUAL Event!

     I decided to post on Thursday this week, because today is a very special day.  It is Thanksgiving day and it's a time to look back and reflect on the year and be grateful to be where you are and with those you are with.  I LOVE the Holiday Season: the cool crisp air, the food, the smells, the laughter, the fun, all the endless board games and playing cards,  the Holiday Shopping, the  music, the beautiful colors of all the leaves on the ground, tasty treats and good eats… the list goes on and on. 

     I will make this week a very brief post as I am currently readying myself for family time.  I spent almost 12 straight hours of Thanksgiving Feast cooking… the house smells wonderful, but I still need to go to the gym. ;0)  But I digress.

     Today I am sharing an excerpt from my Professional Illustration portfolio.  It is called simply, November.   It is part of a concept calendar I created upon leaving college to use as a promotional tool.  The calendar concept was to help children begin thinking about a future career.  Each month would feature a possible job you could pursue.  Each day of that month would be filled with a fun fact and would include a fun and simple activity you could do with you child that is in some way associated with that profession.  Each of the illustrations form the calendar consist of 3 main elements consistent with the entire series of illustrations for it. 1.) It must illustrate a possible career, as I had previously stated.  2.) It must include the major Holiday associated with the month itself and 3.) It must include an element of Whimsy Imagination and fantasy.

     I also planned to include a spot illustration of the child as a Grown Up in that profession. It would be coupled in the calendar design.  I am actually in the works of developing this calendar for possible retail sale.

     November is obviously about Thanksgiving and promoting the career of Farming.  Being that I am a Georgia resident, this seems quite appropriate to share today.  Georgia is a very big agricultural state.  We grow many of your peanuts, peaches, pecans and cotton (that we apparently sell to China then buy back from them… weird logic, but I'm not a Farmer or a politician so I guess, I'm not meant to understand it . lol.)  

     Anyway, I though it would be fun to "build" my farm out of all the wonderful Thanksgiving foods of agriculture.  I have included more than Georgia is responsible for, of course, but this illustration is meant more over for farming in general and what it's possibilities could hold.  I had a lot of fun coming up with all the many Characters for this illustration.  I wanted to create a sort of "Family" of animals for my little farmer to help illustrate the togetherness we all feel during the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Designing the farm itself and what it would be made of was in fact a real pleasure. I had a lot of fun over the course of the week I worked on it.   I have included some of the original development sketches to share for fun. 

     I must leave you all here. I still have plenty to "hunt and gather" for our Thanksgiving Journey today :0)… And I still need to go to the gym.

     Until next time, folks: Have a Happy and very Safe Thanksgiving.  Today is all about Good times, Good Food and Good Friends. ( a quote I borrow form my good friend Mia Scott.  She really hit the nail on the head with that one.)

Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Illustration Friday: TREE

     So this is my submission for Illustration Friday.  The Topic this week was "tree."
     I thought it would be fun to play with the idea of one's winter scarf coming to life.  With the roots being the fringe/tassels of the giraffes scarf.   This also gave me an excuse to illustrate Birds with Scarves and winter hats. ;0)
     I used a "new" technique I've been playing with.  I take my sketch, ink it, then scan the inked drawing into my computer.  I have then been using a variety of collected scanned fabric and specialty paper swatches to color the illustration.  I "cut" the swatches out into shapes then place them into the composition.  It's fun and reminds me of craft and art time from elementary school.   I have provided a few of the sketches/work in progress shots.  I will make a habit of posting them with these particular posts.
    This was a fun illustration to create and I can't wait for next week's Illustration Friday Challenge.   My goal with these is to keep the illustration simple and time-manageable as I am also working on other things simultaneously.  It's been a challenge to keep the concept and drawing process simple enough to complete the illustration within 3-4 hours tops.  Stay posted for new Illustration Friday Projects from me. :0)
    In the meantime, as always...

Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'll "B"e Good for Halloween!


Happy Halloween everyone! :0)

     I have saved this little tid bit JUST for today!  As I sit here and enjoy this new herbal tea I found called Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride, because I couldn't resist leaving something called that on the shelf, and also enjoy this really stinky but absolutely delicious aged cheddar cheese with some pecans, thanks to my new low-carb vegetarian diet, I am also enjoying listening to/watching The Monster Squad, because I apparently am self-diagnosed with latent A.D.D.  For those of you who don't know, The Monster Squad is the 80s B-Version of The Goonies. For those of you who don't know what The Goonies is, God help you.  Once again, thanks Lou. This movie has to be one of the best gifts I have ever been given. I LOVE this movie and I have to say I really LOVE cheese...  Anyway, I get off topic (A.D.D.) Why am I doing this?  It's Halloween. Nothing says Halloween more that Christmas tea, Cheese and the Monster Squad... OK so maybe it's not the most exciting way to spend a Tuesday evening.  Halloween, however, is Very exciting and the best part of it for me is making one's own costume.
     So Why go through the effort, huh?  Well I'll be honest, besides a party, It's the most fun I have with the holiday.  I, unfortunately was the only sibling in my family that was never allowed to go trick-or-treating. I know, it is truly sad to have missed out on that during childhood.  Long story short, my parents were very religious for a while... and then they got over it.  Alas, my childhood was stuck within that interim.  W.W.F.S.? (What Would Freud Say?)  Freud would tell me to make some bad-ass costumes. That's what Freud would say. So I do.

     I have provided a few snap shots below of costumes from Halloween past, but I will mainly focus on How I made an E.T.  Yes, ladies and jelly-spoons, I made my very own Extra-Terrestrial and had it mounted to a bike.  The inspiration for this crazy venture was pretty obvious for me.  E.T. is my 3rd favorite movie of all-time (or at least all my time on this planet ;0P.)   My partner and I recently took our nine-year old to Universal Studios in Orlando.  There is of course the E.T. ride.  Even though I own a copy of the film (both the 1982 and 2002 versions), I hadn't watched it in quite some time.  The trip to the theme park re-kindled that old flame.  Not to mention, some of my family members sent to me some vintage E.T. gifts for my birthday earlier this past Summer.  I think the Universe, and not just the Studios, was trying to tell me something.

     So after deciding to be Eliot from E.T. I had to figure out how I was going to handle the most important prop of my costume, my little alien friend.  I decided I could build him out of paper-mache, wire and foil, like how I create other props for my previous costumes.  My part of the costume was easy. I found a red hoodie and had E.T. ironed on to it.  Thanks Monograms-An-More for doing such a great job for me. 

     I had help with setting up the base that I would build E. T. on in the milk crate.  I wound and shaped a wire frame to use  as the base for my E.T. sculpture.  Next I added the foil layers to make a more secure structure for the paper-mache.

     "Come on! Don't be chicken shit!" says Pheobe as she tries to use the Frankenstein Monster as collateral to gain membership into the Monster Squad.... Sorry A.D.D. moment.  I Love it that I can see Frankenstein's Monster use the word "bogus."

     Anyway, I added on the Paper Mache to the Head of the sculpture.  Since I was going to cover most of the crate with a white sheet, the head was really all I needed to build. Until my sense to overachieve kicked in and said, "Lewis, you need to make hands too."

     So, I made hands.  Then it said to me, "Lewis, how TOTALLY AWESOME would it be if you could find a way to make his finger glow.  So I made it happen.  I admit I did have some engineering help from my partner.  He did help me figure out how to wire the finger so that I could flip a switch to turn the glowing finger on and off. But that little voice didn't stop there.  It mentioned a glowing heart....

... the flowers that bloomed than wilted with E.T.'s health...
....what about the speak and spell that E.T. used to phone home with...

     I even had a small tape recorder that played sound clips of things E.T. said from the film, not to mention the Flying Theme music as well.
Unfortunately, the volume on the recorder was SO low that you couldn't hear it over the rest of the banter from both of the Halloween events I went to this past weekend.  After spraying my hair with black color hair spray, completely shaving my goatee and my side burns so that I could look more like a 7 year old boy (I do not want to know what Freud might say about that) and mounting the E.T. sculpture to the bike, I am ready for Halloween. :0)

    I think I use my annual creative Halloween Costume Project as yet another way to not have to grow up completely...

"Wolfman's Got Nards!"... sorry did it again... This movie is really quite amusing.

     Like Peter Pan, there is a small part in all of us that never wants to grow up.  I hope that part is shining this Halloween.  Cheers to you all that had fun making your clever costume.  Happy Halloween! :0)

Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

P.S. as promised here is a few of past years fun:

 Max (Where the Wild Things Are)

 Charlie Chaplan

Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder Brand)

 Scarecrow/Michael Jackson (The Wiz)