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.