Friday, June 28, 2013

LOOKY LOO LONEY: Illustration Friday!

It's Friday! Illustration Friday! Yeah! 

     As everyone LOOKS forward to this Weekend and as Everyone will be LOOKING up into the Skies very soon, This week's topic seems highly appropriate.  This week's topic is SURVEILLANCE.  I was actually inspired to pull something from a sketch I drew AGES ago.

     This sketch inspired a story idea I have about just this topic... Surveillance.  I won't divulge the story specifics, buts suffice to say our little character here gets in to quite a bit of trouble spying on the suspicious neighbors. :0) 
 Speaking of which, from my studio window, I can see several of our closest neighbors for my own spying adventure.  Kind of reminds me of the flick The Burbs with Tom Hanks, but on a kids scale. 

      I must go prepare for a trip into the woods to LOOK up to the skies myself.  Hope Everyone Enjoys Their Holiday Weekend or Week.  Happy Independence Day! :0)

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

[Original Sketch circa 2004]

[thumbnail composition sketch]


[New Sketch]

Friday, June 21, 2013

Weary Traveler: IF Friday WORN.

     Yeah! It's Illustration Friday! It always makes me smile.  As always the IF Blogs are brief, but I do need to discuss a little about this week's illustration and it's inspiration.
     This week's topic is WORN.  I had a bit of time thinking about what in the world I would illustrate that could relate to the theme.  I began to brainstorm, as usual earlier in the week.  I began to thing of worn in the since of wearing something like clothing and maybe that clothing could be worn in the sense it is old and weathered. SO I thought of an old hat or an old coat.  Old coat led me to think of another interpretation of Worn: to be tired and exhausted.

     I then began to think about maybe doing an old man or old woman in a coat, then I really became attracted to illustrating a hobo.  I didn't want the character to be human.   I have ALWAYS found animal allegories and fables appealing.
One of my absolute favorite being Disney's Robin Hood.
Ever since childhood, I found that film hypnotic. Doesn't matter how old I get, I will always be sucked into the TV when that film comes on.  So it was decided, an animal.  I decided on a bird because I like punny things and I like the phrase "old bird."  SO I was thinking maybe an old pigeon in a granny coat and house slippers, and then to some other bird in another costume and on and on...

     My mind, then finally rested on the idea of a crow.  I came around back to the idea of illustrating a hobo and at that time, it seemed like the most perfect concept for the week's challenge.
I think it is somewhat poetic, in a way, the idea of a hobo and by hobo, I mean 1930s-40s American Depression style hobo.  They seemed more like an iconic image to me.
Even though they are homeless and that is truly a very sad state to exist and live in, I always thought that there had to be some amazing and happy stories they could tell you, if you asked.
I was also inspired by the images of Emmet Kelly and Charlie Chaplin.  I also referenced Disney's Robin Hood.  You may remember the part of the film where he dresses as a bird to enter the archery competition.
  I let that image also influence this illustration.
His "long" life is visually represented by the band on the scarf.  Like the bands/rings from the cross section of a tree, these bands can be counted to know how old he truly is.  This was a reference to Nature and the natural journey from life to death. They are multi colored because life is so.
Also, I added a nod to Rembrandt with the Crow Hobos hat.  You may recognize it from his painting, Old Man in a Gorget and Black Cap.  I never will be a Rembrandt, but I LOVE his paintings. They have a charm and life to them.

    After listening to nothing but mountain music, I created my Hobo Crow.  I wanted him to represent the ultimate result and finale to a long and happy life well lived.  A weary and worn traveler of this world, untethered to it's structures and rules.  He is living out the final days of his life.  In this romantic sense, I find the iconic hobo poetic and touching.  One final note. You may have noticed he is carrying a copy of Candid.  This is a reference to a life that was the best of all possible worlds.  He is worn down, but still hopeful and optimistic about what the future might hold. :0)

    I hope of you find some adventure this week.  You definitely should wear yourself worn in some fashion. 

Enjoy the illustration and as always...

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

Friday, June 7, 2013

SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE CHRONICLES: Vol.i Interjection: Lunch At the Station!

    It kind of amuses me to call this post that, because there is a nice restaurant in Americus called The Station and my small group of humans have been known to go there for lunch and we always say "Lunch at the Station" on those particular days.  But we are not in Americus, Georgia at the moment.  We are back in NYC New York. It is the first Friday in February and it is also the day of the Illustrator's Intensive.  It is break time and I am headed out the door ravenously for lunch.

     As I am very unfamiliar with what is around the Station, I decide to head into Grand Central to see what I can find for food.  I son discover that there is an entire sub-level devoted to a food court.  Though this was much larger than most malls I have ever been in, the setup was familiar.  Food stations lined against the wall and some, an island of themselves, towards the center of the sub-level.

     As a vegetarian, I had to find a place that would offer veggie options plus actually be a satisfying lunch.  I am ironically picky about salad and most often really don't want to eat them, particularly when I'm someplace new in the world and you want to try good food that's different from what you could eat normally at home.  I walk around, well try to as the entire sub-level is completely crowded.  There are people everywhere, hustling and bustling to get their food or get to their next train on time. 
  There are lines out the ying-yang at most every single food station/vendor.  There were some fantastic options I found at several of the food stations, however, the lines were SO Long it could take hours just to get up to a counter to order, much less eat and get back to the conference in time.  I had to settle on this fresh sandwich and wrap area on the other side of the Station as the line was not as long as many of the others.  I ordered an egg salad croissant, a small bag of chips a drink of sorts (as I can't recall what I had to drink) and a lovely smelling cookie that seemed to be calling out to me from the side of the cash register.  No matter if your eating there or else where, you are ALWAYS given it TO GO.
 So, I took my TO GO brown bag of lunch (yes it was literally a plain brown bag) and left the food station and began to look for an available seat.  This is when I began to resent single people who decided to eat and multiple person tables.  It pretty much meant that they so rudely took up any additional places for others to sit at, making it almost impossible to find a place to sit and eat lunch.  I walked around the entire sitting area on the sub level, which included both sides of the vast station... there were NO places t sit and eat... MAXIMUM Seating Capacity. 

     I then noticed a standing table that had one or two spots available for me to go stand there and eat my lunch.   As I was going to be sitting in a chair for most of the day, I decided a little standing was probably a good thing. 
Also, I really wanted the experience of eating at Grand Central Station, not just ordering Take Out there.  I took a few shots of lunch and of my present surroundings there at Grand Central and posted them on FB.  I then put my phone away, stood at the table in my heavy winter coat, unwrapped my egg salad sandwich and began to eat lunch while I listened to the almost deafening din of people talking to their loved one's on cell phones, talking animatedly to each other about their day, good or bad, people yelling over other's heads because they lost each other in the ocean of hungry folks trying to get to their next train. 
I breathed in all the sounds with my ears and thought to myself," I' sure there are people here that complain how crowded and chaotic Grand Central Station is, but people that live somewhere never really treasure where they are, nor understand how magical it can be.  I think that Americus could never be as noisy as this place.  I truly was in a foreign space and I'm going to remember as much about it as I can. THIS is Grand Central Station: the chaos, the good food you wait forever to get then run at light speed and try to catch a train, standing up at a tall table for lunch."

     I'm glad I had the experience of eating  and being at Grand Central Station.  I did go look at the Grand Foyer on the main level, the space you most often see int films.  It is a vast space, but not as large as movies make it out to be, plus all the movies shoot it facing one angle.  You never see the 2 main hallways that lead to all the shops that line the entrance hallways to Grand Central... You never see that in a movie.  NY certainly gives you something to remember it by.  Perhaps, this is the reason everyone wants their own I Hear NY shirt when they leave; not to be cliche or predictably touristy, but because you really do end up falling in love with NY.

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

IF: Illustration Friday! Home Sweet Home.

     Yeah! It's Illustration Friday and I drew something for it! :0)
I am a bit tired, so I will be brief.  This week's topic is SWEET.  It's a coincidence that I am working on a logo for a cupcake bakery at this moment.  Obviously it influenced my subject.  I wanted to do cupcakes because cupcakes are on the mind. 

    I decided what fun it would be to tie in another "SWEET" reference to add another dimension to my illustration and to give my cupcake illo some flair and personality.  I decided to combine the comforts of home with one of America's most favorite comfort foods.  I wanted to illustrate the All American Dream of a white picket fence home on the top of the hill with some trim bushes, a freshly mowed lawn and a clean WELCOME front door mat.

    I, of course took an illustrator's license with my take on each of those elements to make them theme appropriate.   I added an cross-stitch emulated hand drawn Home Sweet Home at the bottom.  I hope that this image evokes the quiet, safe comforts of home.  Home really is a SWEET place to be... Even more sweet when we are enjoying a nice sweet treat.  Enjoy the illustration everyone and have a great start to your weekends.  Happy Illustration Friday!

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

Sunday, June 2, 2013


 Day 1. The Portfolio Showcase

     So traveling again back in time to that first day I was at the conference… (those keeping track will note that this is the day of the Illustrator's Intensive. It was a Friday.) "Back In Time!" (sing song)  This kinda makes me want to watch Back to the Future and listen to Huey Lewis and the News.

     Anyway the second half to the SCBWI Illustrator's Intensive Day was the Portfolio Showcase that evening.  SCBWI puts this together to showcase a number of it's up and coming and also established Illustrators to the Network of New York Art Directors.  It was a nice experience that I am glad I participated in.  One thing is certain, next time, I will downsize my portfolio presentation, as mine (though very clean and professional, was a bit large for the presentation space.

     You will recall the new portfolio presentation I put together specifically for this Showcase.  It was a previous blog post. Vol 1. of the SCBWI Winter Chronicle Blog Postings, actually (link below.) 
This was an extensive and meticulously planned presentation, though I admit that it did not really get to shine at the Showcase as they did not allow the presentation box to be included at the display, nor did they allow the cardholders and bookmark holders to hold any promotional items for the art directors to take…. this made for a Very sloppy Showcase Presentation, in my humble opinion.  Bad decision on the showcase committee, as I think this doesn't make the illustrators at SCBWI look very professional to the NY Art Directors. 

     I am going to take this moment to pick a nit with the showcase committee at the NY SCBWI event, should any of them ever read this post. This is really the ONLY thing I had a problem with as far as the Conference was concerned.  I am honestly shocked at the lack of professionalism that was amplified at the Showcases presentation setup.  The setup at the NY Portfolio Showcase was a logistical and practical DISASTER!  I actually passed this criticism onto SCBWI when I was at the event in a evaluation form I filled out.  The set up was several rows of foldout tables with nice clean brown or black (can't quite remember the color) table cloths.  And each portfolio book was placed (closed) right up next to each other.  Everyone's promo cards were (kinda sorta) neatly stacked above each book, however since there were no card holders and the placement of the portfolios and tables led to the kinda-sorta neatly stacked cards being strewn about to where you really had to look back and forth between a portfolio and a promo card to make sure the card went with the portfolio you had an interest in.  The table were so NARROWLY placed together and there was no organization to where and how you entered the showcase that it created this AWFUL bottle neck of people squeezing past each other rubbernecking over shoulders to try and see ANY of the portfolios.  It was like a chaotic cattle call or aimless rodeo.  I hardly got see any of the portfolios and dummy books at all because of the way this thing was setup… terrible.  You felt the need to really quickly breeze through ANY portfolio you were looking at and quickly grab a card if you wanted one and then move on because there is this herd of buffaloes beating down on you to move along so the next person can see.  ALSO the books were SO CLOSELY laid together that you couldn't even Open a portfolio book without crashing elbow into the person next to you looking at the next unit of portfolio also. SO you could not really even open the book fully to look at the artwork because you would be turning your page right into the next portfolios designated space. SO in essence you didn't really get to see the artwork at all nor was I assured that anyone got to really see my artwork…. BAD PLANNING. BAD  SETUP. BAD EXECUTION. FOR SHAME, SCBWI. FOR SHAME.

     I was further vindicated by my opinion of this when I went to SCBWI Southern Breeze's Illustrator's Day.  The Portfolio setup at the Spring Fling was FANTASTIC and should have been the way it was setup in NY.  Take point, NY SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Planners for next year.  Spring Fling had a REAL Showcase setup.  I will discuss theirs when I write up that post.  Suffice to say, I was able to see every artists' work as well as enough room to open the portfolio books.

     Now, back to the NY showcase…  I went downstairs to turn in my portfolio. This is where I was told I couldn't use the display box in the portfolio's presentation, nor could I have my cards set up neatly, practically and professionally in a card holder that matched the rest of my presentation.  It was an organized port drop off other than that.  I was fortunate enough to get caught up in a very interesting conversation with several other Illustrators after I dropped off the portfolio.  They had also attended the Illustrators Intensive and shared interesting thoughts about what they were working on and the industry in general.  I remember discussing the future in children's storytelling, taking advantage of current technologies like story telling pas for phones and tablets.
I believe I have already mentioned shout outs to those artists in the Blog Post about the intensive.  For those I didn't they are Shouted-Outed to below.

     I had previously mentioned before that this is a very good opportunity to get your work seen by most of the Art Directors in NY… Basically half the US publishing world.  There were a few hundred participants in the Showcase… As I said several rows (at least 10 or 15) of LLLLOOOOONNNNNGGGG Fold-Out tables displaying several artist portfolios in this rather large conference banquet area.  But due to the lack of organization this turned into a free for all cattle call of chaos. 
I had an unnerving thought while I was aggressively trying to look at some of the artwork (because otherwise you wouldn't have been able to.)  I though wouldn't this be one of the worst places and spaces to be in should the zombie apocalypse outbreak happen right there and then.  I shivered it off, but unfortunately bumped into someone who gave me a dirty look for bumping into them.

     On a quick off-note there is a REALLY good zombie flick that characterizes what kind of experience I think it would be like, should the ZA happened right then.  It is the third of an Italian Film trilogy called REC (like video RECording). 
It is the origin story of the ZA breakout and it takes place at a wedding reception in a very large and vast banquet hall, very much like the one where the NY Showcase was held.  I didn't think that my chances in that environment would have been very good for survival.  As clever as I like to pride myself, I don't think I have really quick reflexes and responses to dangerous situations… This is why I am so terrible at sports.

     In any case, set-up flaws aside, What I did get to see was phenomenal.  The artists that showcased there this past Winter are an amazing group.  They kind of having me step up my game some more and re-do some of my portfolio pieces, just so I can feel like I am somewhat in the same league as some of these amazing artists.  It's simultaneously both magical and intimidating being around that many talented people.  Though I have every confidence in what I do as an artist, you still can't help but get a bit of Small Fish in the Big Pond syndrome in those types of situations. I may actually use that imagery in one of IF Friday's Challenges soon, should the weekly topic allow something of the sort.  I have included some scans of some of my favorite artists portfolios, and by this I mean their promo cards.  I have included weblinks to their sites where applicable.  This pretty much wraps up all of what I had to share about my experiences in NY this past February. 

Until next Time Travel Adventure…
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

Vol.1 link:

SHOUT OUTS: Portfolio Showcase

 Erica DeChavez

 Sara Woolley

Denni Morgan
 (Sorry *Shrug* No photo)

 Adam Winsor

 Jason Hart

 Elizabeth W. Wolff

 Ashley Yazdani

 Tania De Regil

 Jessica Halley

 Misa Saburi

 Caitlin Welsh
Eric Freeberg

 Erika Baird

 Dorothia Rohner

 Kenton Webb

 Airlie Anderson

 Andrea Ridgley

 Keith Frawley

 Kathy Penrod

  Jin Suk