Cute Animals

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I’ve finally had chance to work more on an animal version of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Captain Nemo is a Great Horned Owl, Professor Aronnax is a rabbit and his dedicated servant Conseil is a badger.

I’m also working on a picture book dummy for my children’s book illustration class. I’ve chosen the Velveteen rabbit.

I’m really enjoying children’s book illustration class and my local SCBWI chapter told me that the wonderful children’s book illustrator Jerry Pinkney will be in Seattle next week at the US Board on Books for Young People conference. He’s also going to be signing books at the Secret Garden bookstore. I’ll try to report on the conference here. The illustrators and authors are pretty incredible. There’s also a pre-conference tour that University of Washington is giving of their special collection of children’s book illustrations.

Last weekend when I was working at the wildlife rehab center, we got to see a very cute saw-whet owl. I think he had been hit by a car, but seems to be recovering well.

 

 

 

 

Storyboard a Classic – Adventures in Children’s Book Illustration

Here’s last week’s assignment for Children’s Book Illustration I. It was pretty fun.

It had to be very short, so I chose the Aesop’s Fable The Fox and the Crow. I added color to a few of the storyboards to suggest colors.

 

 

 

 

p.s. Here’s Jay Jay, a rescue bird where I work in Snohomish. Handsome bird.

Sequential Art – Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

I just had my first week of Children’s Book Illustration 1 at RMCAD and the first assignment was to develop a few several concept sketch comics in 3 panels on the theme of: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

It was a nice first assignment to ease into thinking about sketching from a visual storytelling perspective vs. drawing single sketches.

 

The last one was probably my favorite. This week we’re drawing a mini book dummy for an Aesop’s fable.

Last night, we also had our opening of the Fantastical Worlds Art Show at Blakely Hall in  Issaquah Highlands. It was exciting to have my 20,000 Leagues with Rabbits and Outside Looking In works hanging along the others! The show will be up for the next two months. Drop by if you have a chance!  It was nice to see other members of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrations – Western Washington there, too.

I’m in the Fantastical Worlds and Put a Bird on It Exhibitions!

I’m excited to share that I’ve juried in two art pieces in the Fantastical Worlds Exhibition at Blakely Hall.  The curator is Anna Macrae and the event was organized by ArtEast. I am thrilled and honored. There are some amazing artists in the show. Put it on your calendar. The opening reception is September 7th at Blakely Hall in Issaquah 6-8 pm.  The art should be up until the beginning of November.

Here is my Art Statement for the show:

Animals have always captured my imagination. They come with a wild array of forms, colors, sounds, and with them an inner world we can only see faint traces of, and can never fully understand.  Focusing on animals in my work always seemed natural to me, expressing emotions and worlds outside our understanding.

“Outside Looking In” is a somewhat personal piece, capturing a moment in time between two worlds. The piece started from random pourings of blue ink on paper, which formed an appealing landscape; the rest was filled in digitally.

“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Rabbits” is a lighthearted piece, which attempts to capture that sense of wonder and mystery I’ve always been drawn to, of entering a world you never knew you were missing.
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buzzard-blue-skyI was also happy to hear that my painting of Edgar (see right) made it into ArtEast’s Put a Bird On It show that opens this Thursday evening at the ArtEast Center (I’ll be there) and remains there until October 1st.

Smiling Crow and Wildlife Rehabilitation

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Here’s a great commission that I had a chance to draw, a smiling crow. I haven’t had a chance to post, but now I’m taking Non-Western Art History. It’s passing pretty quickly (Haiti, India, China, Japan so far), but it’s been interesting.

At the beginning of summer, I also had a chance to start working in a small wildlife rehabilitation center. It’s been a great experience so far – mostly birds and small mammals. Here are two long-time residents, Hooligan and Eclipse  – both barred owls who aren’t able to be released because they have one wing. They are beautiful. It’s Hooligan who likes to talk.

Sketching Bears, Wolves, and Dogs

This week’s assignment are gestures of bears, wolves, and dogs. Using a envelope for the animals and simplifying geometric shapes helps with simplifying. The class is setting into a routine of drawing gestures with a little value added in some, skeleton and ecorche version, and discussion post which looks at different rendering of animals characters and how they can be portrayed as protagonists or antagonists in a story. It’s fun seeing the examples that my classmates come up with.

I’m finding I really like drawing with the Procreate app on the iPad pro and Apple pencil. It’s close to drawing with a real pencil. When I want this soft effect with pencil, I usually prefer to use mylar (Dura-lar) which comes in huge rolls from Dick Blick and erases cleanly.

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My discussion post:
There’s some amount of range when it comes to how sympathetically bear characters are portrayed. On the sympathetic side, there are characters such as teddy bears, and related characters such as the Care Bears and Winnie the Pooh, which are modeled more on the stuffed animal than the actual animal.

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More realistic sympathetic bears include Baloo from any of the multiple adaptations of The Jungle Book, Smokey the Bear, and the bear family of Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear.

On the more antipathetic side, there are characters such as the bear in the film version of The Fox and the Hound, and the grizzly bear from the film Balto, which are portrayed as bestial, inhuman predators.

When wolves are portrayed positively, they tend to come off as majestic, intelligent, loyal, embodying the nobility of nature; the wolf family in The Jungle Book, Moro in Princess Mononoke.

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Negatively, wolves are portrayed as crafty predators, as with the classical fairytale archetype of the Big Bad Wolf.

 

 

wolf-4The main example I can think of when it comes to neutral/background characters is how, in Donald Duck etc. comics, otherwise “human” side/background characters tend to be given dog noses, and occasionally ears. Here, the use of animal characteristics basically just signifies that these stories take place in a completely unreal fantasy world.
In general, I would say that completely realistic renderings of animals, as you might find in an educational book, often have less strong emotional expressivity, and are less immediately emotionally accessible as a result. Even mostly realistic designs often “cheat” when it comes to faces, adding human elements such as humanoid scleras, eyebrow muscles, and mouth expressions.

My Experience at SCBWI-WWA Spring Conference

I had a great time at our Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring Conference. It was neat to be with such an enthusiastic group that were all interested in children’s books. I liked all of the speakers, but especially David Small and Kazu Kibuishi who shared a lot of their personal stories about how they came to be motivated to do the work they do. David Small is Caldecott winner and Kazu is a writer and illustrator of graphic novels like the Amulet and Explorer.

This was the first time I put together a portfolio. I searched on the web for examples of how to set one up. I use an inexpensive photo album on Amazon that had a window in the cover.

I liked being able to present my work in the portfolio evening, but I also liked seeing everyone else’s work. I’m thinking about doing more drawing with ferrets especially since my visit to the ferret rescue in Kirkland. Their fur is very soft. There were a lot of illustrators I also had a chance to discover. I especially liked Heidi Aubrey‘s mice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a week off, I’ll be starting animal anatomy and drawing (yay). I’m also a few weeks into volunteer orientation to work in wild bird rehabilitation – skills training starts in May.

Western Washington SCBWI Spring Conference – This Week!

I’m be  attending my first Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference this week in Redmond. I’m doing some tweaks to my portfolio (here’s my new improved Snow Queen) and printing up business cards and postcards.

I’m signed up for the Illustrator Intensive “Hard Things to Draw” with David Small (see some of his covers below) as well as participating in the Juried Portfolio show. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of portfolios and hearing from other illustrators and writers, art directors, and agents. I’ve heard these conferences are great for networking and getting started in children’s books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my design for a business card: 

I’m also doing  film class this RMCAD quarter, so I’m putting together a short film discussion of the movie, Vertigo.

I had a great chance to interview author and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet and attorney and film lecturer Robert Cumbow, in addition to my family. I even attended a 6-hour Cinema Dissection of Vertigo at the Seattle International Film Festival Center which gave me an even deeper understanding of the film.

Playful Crow – My First Etsy Store

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I’m just setting up my first Etsy store here: Playful Crow.
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Check out my store and see if there’s anything you might like. At left is a rescue duck named Angel who was a favorite uncle duck to 13 little ducklings in our backyard pond.

If you’re experienced with Etsy, please share any tips. I just had my first sale last week.

Western Civ II is now behind me (I like Dostoevsky best) and Film started this week. After this quarter, I’ll be back to Studio classes and I’ve really been looking forward to taking Animal Anatomy.

Bird Beaks and Eats

Here’s some illustrations I was asked to make by my local Audubon society, Pilchuck Audubon. Jim Beneteau and other volunteers give lectures to school children about different beak adaptations and how they’re suited to what they eat. They didn’t have good visual illustrations, so I made these prints for them for their traveling kit.

Jim, Valerie, and Laurel asked for common birds that children might recognize in their backyards. The nice thing about having more picture of birds and what they eat is that students can think more about they are actually seeing. There’s the barn swallow that needs dart around quickly to grab insects, hummingbird that sips nectar deep in flowers, robin that digs around in dirt for worms, and pelican who eats fish.

If anyone is interested in purchasing cards for their classroom, they can contact me HERE.

My next painting is for Seattle Audubon. I’ll be painting a marbled murrelet which is an endangered species in Washington, Oregon, and California. It’s a sea bird that nests miles inland in old growth forests, so its vulnerable in both ocean and forest habitats. Its a neat bird that has webbed feet, but also is found in the tops of trees.