Monday, February 25, 2013

SockNessie Has Been Sighted.

     Just a bit of what I have been working on. I am working on a a few different works for some competitions for  This particular entry was for Threadless's Original Monsters Challenge. 

I went through Several different ideas for the challenge:  The Abominable ToeJam, The WereGoose, The ToothScary, Democrans and Republicrats (inspired by Ani Difranco's poem Serpentine) and the Lost Laundry Monster which evolved into the SockNess Monster.  I approach the Threadless Challenges similar to how I approach Illustration Friday Challenges. I try to keep the ideas, the sketches and the final art loose, fresh and fast.  This is usually how I am able to fit them in amongst other projects, plus it allows 100% creative freedom and is a really good exercise in meeting quick deadlines but still producing quality work.

     Like I usually do, I start with research. I researched reference material for all the Monster Ideas I had, and had sketches for a few besides Sock Nessie. 
As you can see from some of the initial quick sketching, that SockNessie really, more or less "arose" to the surface and became the star of this art challenge. 
After re-working the idea of the washing machine scene and changing the composition to something a bit more dynamic that really featured the main subject, SockNessie, but also adding motion to the composition. 
I kept the detail of the Gum Wrapper Boat to still try and imply that this scene may take place in the washing machine, but the setting was really superfluous at this point in the project.

     I then Inked the sketch trying to keep the lines fluid and fresh like the sketch and then scanned in the final inked drawing.  Did a little "cleanup" (get it laundry joke, har har) and then ran the inked illustration through my vectoring program as the final Illustrations for Threadless need to be vector artwork.  Pulling the vectorized drawing into my chosen vector software (no commercial pug here)  ;0)

      I then utilized a really cool new art book I purchased in the past few months.  The Designer's Guide to Color Combinations is really neat and I recommend it for really design and illustration projects with very tight deadlines.   It basically spans time chronologically by the art of advertising and poster making form Victorian to Present day and breaks down color trends and combinations popularly used in each time period.
It's unique and really cool and I was curious as to how I could apply it to some of my work, so I decided SockNessie would be my little experiment.  I chose a color combination swatch from the Victorian Time period and applied it to my illustration.  I even used the book's color combination suggestion to select my shirt color.  I did in the end tweak the exact colors just a bit. By tweak, I mean I used tints of the colors and opposed to the 100% natural color value for them.  I have to say the results are quite successful. 

     I then put together the submission display.  Using a cute font I manipulated it to how I wanted and displayed the 5-Color diagram below.  I thought buttons would be a cute way to display the diagram.  Displaying the screen color diagram in a clever or fun way is kind of a tradition I have seen on countless Threadless submissions.  

     SockNessie is still looking for your support as well as your left socks.  She can always use all of the SOCKPPORT that you can give her by voting for her.  You can get there by double clicking the below photo.  If you don't have a Threadless Account, it only takes a few short minutes to create one.  You can then vote for SockNessie as well as all of the wonderful design competitions.  You would also need a Threadless account should you decide to buy something you like while visiting the website, and trust me, there is always something nice to buy on Threadless. 

     I am currently working on another submission as well as some reference on this weeks IF Friday illo challenge tonight. Thanks again EVERYONE who showed and continue t show SockNessie your love.  She appreciates it and so do I. THANKS! :0)  As usual, the step-by-step process for SockNessie is below. Check it out!

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

[revised sketch]

[inked drawing] 

[w.i.p. vector illo screenshot]

[w.i.p. vector illo screenshot]

[w.i.p. vector illo screenshot]  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Illustration Friday! The Queen of Sheepah. (WOOL)

   Yeah! It's Friday... well not really yet.  I had to post early this week as I will be attending an Illustration Conference this Friday.   This week's topic is WOOL.  I was inspired by an illustration on a friends webpage.  They did a fantastic illustration of a sheep knitting.  It makes me smile every time I visit her site.  I wanted to do something with sheep and yarn and knitting, but didn't want to recreate the same illustration.  I came up with this idea of the Queen of Sheepah (tentatively titled) which is a funny twist on the concept.  I wanted to display the "wool" in both the regal colored turtleneck and also making a "wig" of yarn balls.  I actually just was using this as an excuse to illustrate multi-colored yarn balls, which is quite fun.  I also think the idea of sweater wearing sheep is cute.

     Anyway, here she is. I have of course included development work. :0)

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE CHRONICLES: Vol.2 Would You Like Another Bagel, Mr. Kong?

 Day 1: Travel Day.

      As you have guessed I am not writing or posting these in order.  I can't honestly tell you why, but it just kind of happened this way.  As I sit here and kinda sort of watch-kinda sort of listen to episodes of The Simpsons, I have vowed to catch up on my blog, though to be honest, Illustrator's Day is coming up in Atlanta on Friday, I have 3 competitions I'm preparing art for and of course there is always Illustration Fridays.  Not to mention I am behind on my emails and I'm also blogging... eek.

      In any case I wanted to chronicle Day 2 from NYC Winter Conference.  Day 2 was a Travel Day/Fun Day.  B and I boarded a plane somewhat early morning... I know, I have never been one to like getting up early, but it's true I was awake before 8am, without staying up all night.  We had a nice seat mate, but I can't really help but think constantly about the Season Finale of Grey's Anatomy where the medic plane crashes and the characters either die or get stranded out in the woods for 7 days.  There is quite  a bit of woods in between Georgia and New York and I admit, it was on my mind.  I've always been paranoid of flying and I don't think any future quantity of plane rides will ever change this. Alas, I am forever cursed with my fear of being suspended in tons of steel floating aloft in the sky only by the thinnest hair of physics.  I did enjoy watching, and watching only as I didn't feel like plugging my headset, a good episode of The Office.  It was the one where Pam's Ex-Fiance gets re-married and invites Jim and Pam to the wedding and Jim is very worried that he is going to be messed with or beat up or be called names.  You've all seen that one, I'm sure. It's a very good, very funny episode and I played a little game with myself to see if I could remember what the characters were saying to each other in my head.  As my memory of such things is always touch and go, this made for quite an interesting game with some really good add libbed dialogue (if I may say so myself) even if the entire "show" was only in my own head.  It made the time go by quickly and in a more amusing fashion.  I will always have a special place in my heart for Mystery Science Theatre 3000...

 ...Speaking of shows, in know this is a random interject, but, I am watching the Haunted Tree House Episode of This particular Season of the Simpsons, and I want to say,"Also, how AMAZING is Bart Simpson's Hat right now."  It's made of an MJ Thriller Record album, he's carrying a Batman comic under his arm and he has a make-shift cape tied around his shoulders. This is a fantastic costume, possibly a contender for next year's Halloween.  This is, of course the spoof on Pet Cemetery  and MJ's Thriller, when all the dead pets rise out of the ground as Lisa share a tearful sentiment over Snowball's grave.  These are just a few of "my favorite things" (sing song) and for wanting to be a Toys 'R' Us Kid (because they never really grow up, for those who are unfamiliar with the 80's TRU Ad Campaign.)

      As we were heading in for a landing at LaGuardia, I noticed the Statue of Liberty. She was SO small it was as if she were that miniature key chain in her own gift shop.  After check in, B and I kind of took a detour after detour trying to figure out how to navigate the subway to Grand Central from where we were staying. In the end, we gave up and we walked the eight block hike it took to get to Grand Central.  This would be the first of the seemingly endless eight block pilgrimages I would make that weekend.  Since we had some time after that, I insisted we g to the Busy Bee Bagel Cafe in Brooklyn for lunch.  
I was very eager to see the cafe I designed the logo for in person and eat some of the tasty food I read and type set captions for on their menus.  As I am not from NY, and was obviously a visitor (I wasn't calling myself a tourist as I wasn't in NY to tour), I was SO not aware how far Brooklyn was from Manhattan. Geography has never been one of my strong subjects.  I asked for a map of the subway route and with B's help we navigated our way to what we thought was the right stop.  After walking 14 city blocks later, we realized our map-reading mishap.  It was an interesting walk and, as I have never set eyes on Brooklyn, I found the walk refreshing and nice, even though the wind was cutting us in half and making the chilled temperature seem much more arctic than necessary...  Perhaps brisk more so than refreshing would be a good adjective to compromise on.    After following a phone GPS on foot, which is something everyone should experience in their lives,  we arrived at the Busy Bee Bagel Cafe.  This arrival was preceded, however, by a short  and somewhat arbitrary detour into a hair salon to ask for some quick last-minute directions... you know, just for safe measure.  THIS is where I had my Mickey Mouse moment.

[I'll define what I mean when I say Mickey Mouse Moment.  It is always eminent and undeniably inevitable that Every Single Human Being, regardless of gender, age, class, education or disposition, whilst visiting Disney World or Land (doesn't matter), lights up like the fourth of July when they see that Mickey Mouse Costumed Character in the park.  Regardless of all their previous denials of how unimportant and uninterested they are in taking a photo op with the most beloved animated character of all time, at this point they are pushing over babies in strollers, shoving elderly people out of their way and even tossing small children that happened to get under foot into nearby bushes just to take their picture with that poor over worked, possibly underpaid college kid dressed in that Mickey costume.  I've heard stories of it coming to fists when it comes to Mickey time.  And this is exactly what I mean when I say a Mickey Moment. When you are willing to make a complete ass out of yourself to get that photo-op of a life time no matter what it takes to get it.... and yes, I had a Mickey Moment.]

      ...Luckily there were not ANY babies in strollers, elderly or small children to trample.  I can at least maintain my reputation as a nice guy.  So this nerd took his photo with the logo on the sign, and he took his photo with glass decal on the front door (holding up entering traffic).  The place was as cool and as hip as I imagined. Very artsy, very bohemian and very relaxing and comfortable.  Those of you that are local, should definitely check it out.  The food is wonderful and the atmosphere is choice.  My vegetarian wrap-something was very tasty and I enjoyed my first bag of potato chips I had in months.  I also had a fruity power smoothie which was very nice and I really liked the table made from an old painted door. Very cool.  See photo ;0)
We hung out with one of the owners, Simeon, and he told B and I of the plans for the businesses expansion and of how Sandy had affected them.  B and I even got the honor of signing the wall, a very tall canvass with a painted portrait of a fallen angel on top and plenty of room for visitors to sign on the bottom.
As there were many who have come before me and signed, I picked a small corner to sign my name and draw a little "busy bee" of my own.  It was a very nice and relaxing afternoon, but it was time to leave and go to the Empire State Building.  We had tickets to go all the way to the top (120 stories) and we didn't want to miss it.   We said our goodbyes to Simeon and with his help we found a subway station only a few blocks from the cafe.  This would have been handy knowledge before had... but anyway.

      We hopped on the subway and headed back towards Manhattan to the Empire State Building.  I have to talk about one detail from the train ride.  As always there are adverts on the trains, but there was one that was posted up that I saw all weekend for an online pet shop.
These ads displayed the most adorable little kittens and puppies and made me glad I was not near an animal shelter as I would have been more likely to adopt every adorable animal in the place.  I would say these adverts did their job well, but a week or so after that, I can't even remember the name of the website without googling it.

 photo by B.E.

      To make a long story short, we arrived at the Empire State Building.  I was very excited, though we couldn't really find the entrance and ended up entering in the CVS that was on the side of the building and kind of making our way through to the proper entrance foyer.  We then proceeded through an elaborate but very classy red velvet rope labyrinth that I assumed would be filled with a cue of people during the daytime... as I am sure few tourists visit there at night, the labyrinth was a quick solve and soon we were riding the elevator to the 80th floor, where you can see an exhibit of the history of the building of the Building.  There were also so many interesting statistics about the place.  B and I purchased the audio tour and since they seemed to be rushing people through the exhibit space to get them to the observatory, we didn't get t stay long.  As I usually like to get my money's worth from museum exhibits, I like to read EVERYTHING.  If there is a plaque, I'm reading it. If there is a photograph or Illustration, I'm studying it.  I was slightly disappointed I could not do this at the 80th floor.  Once back n the elevator we were on our way to the 120th floor.  The elevators were so elegantly decorated and the floor button pad was shaped like the building itself... I know, cute, huh?  Also no one was really speaking to each other, very much like a regular elevator ride you would have anywhere, but 80th to the 120th was a much longer ride to pretend that no one else is in the elevator with you.  I often wonder why the etiquette is as such, but you never want to be "that annoying elevator loiterer that talks to you while you're just trying to get to your floor" do you? SO you just shut your trap and enjoy the ride, pretending that the ceiling of the elevator is really the most interesting thing you could possibly have ever seen.

  photo by B.E.

      Once we reached the observatory, B and I realized something very quickly once we stepped outside.  If we thought it was cold and windy down on the streets of Brooklyn, it would not have been able to hold a candle to how cold and how amazingly strong the wind was blowing off the top of that building.  Partly because the wind was so strong it would have "blown it out." Har har.  I was kind of glad there was a safety cage for all the wayward visitors that might just be, quite literally, swept off their feet if they weren't careful.  B was really excited and actually took some fantastic photographs when we were there.  I have posted just a few.  I can't quite express in words what it is like to see the city at night from 120 stories.  I was absolutely without words.  There are SO many beautiful lights that you find yourself hypnotized.
I found myself staring at the seemingly endless traffic of cars, trucks and taxi cabs so small and so far below me.  It was as if you were watching an ant farm that was inside a Lite-Bright with every color light shining simultaneously.  I could see everyone ice-skating at Rockefeller Center or hurrying about their lives.  NYC from that view is really something to behold.  But the wind and chill whips you back into reality and you have to run back inside to warm up again.  Posted around the Human Safety Cage are large green numbers.  These correlate to the touch pad of the audio tour B and I purchased.  B decided it was much better to walk around the glass conservatory and view the sites that the audio tour mentioned form the warmth and safety of the inside. This works for B as he is in actuality, as tall as a two-story house and could see over the ocean of heads of people trying to do exactly the same thing he was.

      I, on the other hand, am about as tall as a teapot and had to devise an alternate strategy.  As I explained before, I am ALL ABOUT getting my money's worth, and my trip to the Empire State Building was no exception.  I decided that the outside blustery chilled Arctic winds would be OK in rather short bursts and doses.  Since looking out the observatory windows, now crowded with people, I knew the best solutions was to calmly take a deep breath, press the appropriately assigned audio tour number on the pad and then... with for it...  Rush outside!.. So quickly and look and look and look and look and look and look (itchy and scratchy) to see what the audio guide was talking about and then.... Quick rush back inside!... warm up a minute then..... Rush right back outside! and then look and look and look and then.... Rush right back inside to warm up for a minute... then... well, you get the picture.  There were 7 numbers on the pad and each numbered part of the tour is anywhere between 5-8 minutes in length and yes I did not leave until I did every sing point around that entire observatory. That was A LOT of running in and out or a door.  Who needs a gym membership in NYC, I tell you.

      After B and I left the observatory we rode the elevator down to the 80th floor where the gift shop is  located at.  Since Micah was not able to accompany us on this trip, she did request we bring her something back form NYC.  She collects snow globes and I found this really adorable pink one that had all the major NYC landmarks in it. Very nice and cute. I got that for her and purchased a lapel pin of the Empire State Building for my satchel and a shiny postcard with an illustration of King Kong hanging off of the ESB.   B bought a magnet some water as we both felt like we had spent the last hour and a half exploring a desert instead of the tallest and, perhaps that evening, the coldest building in NYC.  We decided that diner should be at one of those hole-in-the-wall mom and pop pizzerias that serve the super large slices of NY-Style Pizza.  As I had previously been on a low-carb veggie diet for several months previously and could only dream about bread, dinner that night was, for me, a slice of heaven.  Heaven incidentally came with bread sticks, as well.... heaven's a pretty yummy place.

      That pretty much sums up Day 2.  We took the train back to the hotel and turned in semi-early for us (that's like11pm), since I had a VERY early day ahead of me... and you all should know by now how I feel about early days.  Stay tuned next time kiddies for the next SCBWI Conference adventure.  Same Bat Chanel, Somewhat Same Bat Time.

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

Monday, February 11, 2013

SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE CHRONICLES: Vol.3 Hurry Up and finish! The Fed Ex is Coming! The FedEx is Coming!

 Day 2 Illustrators Intensive
     So, This being my very first SCBWI conference, I wanted to "do it right" as they say.  I signed up for the optional Illustrators intensive the Friday before that "actual" conference begins.  I'm very glad that I did as it proved to be very enlightening, compelling and inspiring.  As many of you knew I dragged my partner all the way (8 city blocks) from our hotel to Grand Central Station, above which was the Grand Hyatt where the conference was being held.  So that very morning I woke up got ready, bundled up because "baby, it's cold outside" and went downstairs for breakfast.  I didn't grab my portfolio at that time as I would be horrified if coffee got spilled all over it, or someone nudged up against the table and spilled their food, or perhaps I might mistakenly smear some eggs on it or something.  As I am considerably prone to accidents and am definitely the universes magnet for mistakes and personal humorous amusement, I was particularly VERY paranoid with good reason.  So the portfolio was left safely on the hotel desk. B was still sound asleep (snoring), so no worries there for something to happen to it, though knowing my luck I assumed there would probably be some kind of freak earthquake, where the Hilton would crumble and fold to the ground along with my portfolio folding inside like an accordion.  This is not to make like of the many people who would have tragically passed in the freak accident as well. God Rest, right?

     In any case, these are the wonderful thoughts I had as I made my way down to the Metro Cafe "next door" to the hotel.  I use the phrase "next door" as the cafe is actually attached to the building, but you have to go outside (in the cold) and then enter the cafe.  I really feel there should have been an entrance from the inside of the hotel. It would have been a courtesy as I'm certain 95% of that cafe's customers come from the Hilton, but I digress.  Considering I had resolutely decided that I would "take a break" form my Low Carbing diet, I selected a lovely egg white omelet with red peppers sauteed caramelized onions and feta cheese (you could pick three toppings and those sounded delightful.)  The omelet came with "breakfast" potatoes which, in my opinion, seemed very "Southern" for NYC by the way they were prepared.  They were smothered in butter, seasonings and either chives or parsley.I couldn't tell as the potatoes were SO yummy, that I honestly could not be bothered to pay attention with what they were seasoned with because of all the crispy browned outside and soft warm potatoey-goodness inside to care, really.  I hadn't eaten potatoes in 3-4 months and believe me, they were heaven... The omelet was also good.

     After breakfast I went back upstairs to the room to grab my portfolio and finally head to the conference.  I was really excited and kind of nervous, more so about the showcase than the conference itself.  Even though I spend countless hours working on my craft, I still gut butterflies in my stomach and somewhat queasy thinking about how the work will be received.  I think this is true for many artists.  I was reminded of a scene from Julie and Julia (a fantastic movie, if you haven't seen it. I can't recommend that movie enough to people.)  It is where, after revising her cookbook at least three times over from "scratch" (pun intended) every time, she is packing her latest draft of the book to be considered by the publisher.  She says something that really stands out in my memory from the film:
She says,"I just want to savor this moment: The moment where ANYTHING is possible. The moment where you imagine they are going to just LOVE everything you did and it's going to sell a MILLION copies and Change the World."   By the way, Meryl Streep does a FANTASTIC "impression" of Julia Child in the film.  Sometimes I find myself impersonating Meryl emulating Julia in the kitchen when I cook sometimes.  I think, at some point, artist or not, we imagine that ALL of our hard work and efforts will be appreciated in exactly the way we always want them to be.  You kind of want to reside in this positive and somewhat euphoric state and Never leave.  Though, at some point, you must leave the Hilton and walk your 8 city blocks to the hotel and hand over your "baby" to the wolves and hope for the best.

     As I don't live in the largest metropolitan city in the US, I actually enjoyed the novelty of my somewhat long walk to and from the conference each day.  I find it strangely comforting to be surrounded by the tall and larger than life buildings.  It's kind of like being given a bear-hug by very large creatures made of brick, stone and mortar.  I enjoyed the smell of street food vendors and all the lovely wafting smells from the various restaurants of every shape, size and food type.  Once I did arrive, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to get to the hotel lobby from Grand Central's long corridor. I still had to ask for directions to get to the conference area and arrived barely on time.

     The setup was nice and very classy.  Though I do have this one of the very few criticisms about the conference space and setup:
The tables were VERY small. I would have to say too small.  Though, my portfolio box was rather large, I admit. there was still very little room for a notebook and a pen (which I held in my lap while taking notes that day).  There was hardly any room for coffee.  My main complaint was the room in between each place setting for attendees.  I chose an end seat towards the back of the room due to my accidental tardiness.  Unfortunately the leg of the chair was wrapped around one of the legs of the table.  Again may I reiterate my potential probability for accidents.  I, of course was not the only one at the table.  At the time, there was a woman sitting two seats down with some coffee she had on the table.  You may already guess where this is going.  As i was trying to unravel my chair that was apparently VERY intertwined with the table leg, I was encountering a problem with unhooking it free.  The seat right next to me, which at the time was not as of yet taken, was to close for me to slide my chair out some to be able to unhook the chair from the table without completely uprooting the table from the carpet.  As any of you that know me personally, I'm kind of a shy guy and when encountered in a large gathering of people, I prefer not to draw too much attention to myself and flipping a table over in the middle of an already crowded conference area would not only draw attention, it would be an awfully embarrassing spectacle.  So I decided that I would try to discretely wiggle the chair free so as to not cause a BIG scene.  Unfortunately, as you might of guessed, I was not successful and the only thing I succeeded in doing was causing the table to lurch backward and forward and spill that cup of coffee all over that poor woman's pants.  I was horrified when this happened and really kind of stood there speechless, unbelieving that I had "done it again."  May I point out that it was even MORE HORRIFYING to find out later that she was one of the speakers on the editor/agents panel later that afternoon and she was actually a known agent amongst many and kind of a big deal in the organization, as in to say that many of the SCBWI big wigs were on first name and personal basis with her.   Sometimes I think I'm a character on some reality television program for the entertainment of a personified Universe in some parallel reality, because you really can't make up something like that. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Ms. Tugeau.  I'm very sorry I spilled coffee on your slacks.  She did mention how expensive they were afterwards, which made me feel much worse.  There were no napkins about that could help her clean up. I offered her my scarf to use until I could go retrieve her some napkins, but she declined and preferred to go get them herself.  I sat down, sipped my coffee (which didn't spill, mind you, as I had been holding it) and quietly sipped my coffee pretending to be invisible until the lights went down and the conference began.

     Due to limitations and legal reasons, I can only share little tidbits from the speakers that lectured that day.  I figured It would be easier to run down the list and talk a little bit about each one.  The overall theme of the Intensive was the most important lessons that Illustrators learned on their journey to success.  As I had state previously, this was a very inspiring series of art lectures and I felt very fortunate to listen to the many pearls of wisdom from such wonderfully talented illustrators.

     Shaun Tan was the first to speak that day.  Mr. Tan has a very distinct and unique style.  I'm very intrigued by it actually.  I found myself hypnotized by the texture and line work that I found it difficult to try to listen instead of being pulled into this fantastic world he imagines.  Actually he was a very eloquent speaker and I found it not at all difficult to listen to his lecture.  He spoke about personal style and how one's style comes from their own personal thought process when they are solving a visual problem or it is the cumulative affect of your variable environment.
  I found his concept of personal style very interesting and could honestly have listened to him elaborate on the subject the whole day, but everyone gets cut-off after an hour to keep things moving along. A few other great points he made that day was for artists to avoid negativity.  If you are getting bogged down with negative energy, whether it is rejection from publishers or particularly tough clients or even individuals you know in your personal life and it begins to chip away at your work or affect your ability to create. AVOID IT.  He also advised you should go with the flow career wise. By this meaning if you can get editorial work with magazines or journals then go for it until you can get work where you would like to get work from. Sage advice and fantastic illustrations. Thanks Mr. Tan.

     Barbara McClintock spoke next on how she learned to draw just from the passion she had for art.  She would go to the museums and sketch the greats including Top Cat comics. ;0)  Everyone knows her from her distinctive lifework evocative of the great French cartoonists and satirists.  I know her as the Illustrator from the Fraggle Rock Book Series from my childhood.  I can remember spending hours in my local library as a child and seeking out the Fraggle Rock Picture books.
   They were so wonderful and magical to me and I honestly lament forgetting to bring one that I had still in my book collection to get her to sign. Alas…  Her lecture was also very enlightening and inspiring.  There were two things she said that I really liked.  The first was her advice regarding a blank page or canvass," don't draw in the center, Always draw to the edges."  I like that approach.  The other thing she said was in answer to a question of how do you know when an illustration is finished, as ms. McClintock's illustrations are so lush with both colors and detailed line work. "You work until the Fed Ex Truck Arrives at your door to pick it up."

     Floyd Cooper took a more practical or tactile approach to discussing lessons he learned.  He did a demonstration of his illustration process. I, of course, can't divulge all the details of how this magician does his tricks, I can say he works subtractively.  By which I mean one "erases" the illustrated image out of built up layers, for those who are unfamiliar with the term.
   Mr. Cooper's advice for us all is that more than anything, be on time. Meet your deadlines, yours and your clients.  Always go for it. "Stick your neck out there."  This is how both you, your work will grow.  Well said, Mr. Cooper.

     David Ezra Stein talked a bit about how you can move past the creative block all artists and writers come in contact with from time to time.  "It takes a lot of love and courage to keep going," said Ezra.  Among the many wonderful points and ideas to try to "trick" your mind out of the rut it has found itself in there were a couple of things that stood out to me.  Always keep moving.  This kind of way of thinking of keeping your mind creatively fluid, like a river. Keep it flowing. If you bump into a rock, work around it and keep flowing.
  It's this try, try again positive upbeat approach that really appealed to me of how he was describing how he would "un-block" his mind.  If you get stuck, shelve the idea (don't forget it) and come back to it later. Move on to something else and circle back around and maybe the answers you were seeking will come to you.  Ezra's work is very fun, expressive and evocative.  It certainly reminds me of the Impressionists and their mission to evoke a mood based on how they "captured" their subject depending on the time of day and effect of the daylight.

     I very much enjoyed The Brothers Hilts segment on printing processes, particularly the elusive and complexity of the K in the CMYK.  Their book, Insomniacs, captures a beautiful array of "blacks."  The two brothers collaborate on each illustration separately, then digitally combine the two together to create the final illustration.  It's a very intriguing artistic process and as you can see in the photo, it turns out beautifully.
  Coming from a graphic design background in print as well, I could relate to the difficulties of trying to get things to print the way you would like them to.  I admit that Newsprint was less pick than the magazines I worked with, but still just the same.  We all want to see what is on the monitor on the page as well.  I did lament that the one book I really wanted to purchase from the SCBWI bookshop that they had set up in one of the areas of the conference part of the hotel, was their book, Insomniacs, and it was completely sold out as were many of the Shaun Tan books.  Ill speak of that on another post.

     Next was a panel of editors and agents compiled together to talk about when one should quit their day job, or if they even should.  It was comprised of Brenda Bowen, Chris Tugeau (whom I spilled coffee on) and Jan Constantine.  They answered many questions about how/if you should seek out artist/writers representation.  I found it educational and very informative.  There were too many points to mention today. Perhaps Ill put together a synopsis of things they were talking about in a subsequent posting on here, but not today.

    Mark Teague closed the day with his talk about how you can continue to get work after you initially are published.  Strong writing is key, and as he put it,"whatever you write about, don't be boring." It's good advice, though I am not sure, anyone aspires to be trite or boring.
  I liked his sentiment of how the magic of Illustration is in the details.  We have all heard that God is in the details for years and years.  It's something I certainly agree with.  Ultimately, he advises of finding as many small jobs in-between the big jobs as you can.  "It is the work that will sustain you."

    At the end of this day I was quite tired, but no sleep for the weary.  I had to come back for the Portfolio Showcase (which is another post.) I'll be honest I am sick and tired of typing this evening.

First though before I let everyone go, I wanted to put in a few shout outs.  At SCBWI one of the best things, besides all the wonderful speakers, positive energy and inspiration are the wonderful artists and writers that you meet while there. Every time you turn around you can meet someone new that is immensely talented.  All you have to do is be willing to say "hi."

   I wanted to post a few of the wonderfully talented people I met that weekend.  I am still waiting on permissions for some of those so I will add them as I get permission. Visit their sites as there is more fantastic art to look at.  I can honestly say I haven't felt surrounded by so many creatives and so absorbed in a creative community than I have that weekend since art college days.


Gwynneth Jones

Beth Greenway

Peter J. Thornton

Adam Winsor

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

Friday, February 8, 2013

IF: WHEEL Birds of a Feather Sail Together.

     It's Illustration Friday! Yeah!   The only thing you get to do during the week that is truly just for you, the artist: the inner kid that never wants to grow up.  You grab your crayons, pencils and paints and put together something.  This week's topic was WHEEL.  At first my original plan was to create a hamster dressed in a corporate suit, blindfolded and running on a hamster wheel whilst a smidgen of cheese would be "held out" in front of the hamster…. Needless to say I ditched the idea b/c when I sat down at the desk to draw it, I hated it… So I tossed it.

     I began to think again what I really came to mind mind immediately, because that is usually what I do for IF Fridays.  This exercise keeps the ideas and the art fresh and fun.  I don't bog it down in the conceptual phase.  I think this is why I like these works a lot.   I thought of Caveman/woman creating the first wheel. I thought of the wheel of time, a water wheel… and then it hit me, the steering helm of a pirate galleon ship.  I mean after all, most Illustrators really want to spend most of their days drawing fun things, like Pirates. :0)

    SO I decided I would Illustrate a Ship's helm as the focal point of my ship, but I wanted to draw some sea-faring birds to add to the fun of the image.   As usual, I have provided some of the development sketches in the beginning of putting this Illo together. 
Here is the thumbnail composition I made.  I try to keep all the phases of the Illustration process very brief to keep these projects fresh, fun and not so time consuming.

    Anyways, get your compass ready and set sail today because it's Friday. May the Weekend find you adventurous. :0)

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