Fantasy

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.

 

 

 

 

Wordless Picture Books

This past week, we were studying wordless picture books. Here is my discussion post answering questions such as some favorite wordless picture books and whether we thought wordless picture books could be improved with words or vice-versa, whether there were picture books with words that could published as wordless.

A prime contender for my favorite wordless picture book is Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. It tells a metaphorical story about the immigrant experience, with a poor man leaving home on a steamship in order to support his family, and finding himself in a bizarre new world. Many aspects of immigration are reflected: confusion, frustration, tedious manual labor, and the dangers of war, but also the joys of making new friends, discovering new experiences, and finding ways to support the people you love. The world of The Arrival is visually set in the early 20th century, and the art style is modeled after the sepia photographs of those periods, making the strange creatures and environments feel all the more otherworldly. The lack of words helps to make the reader’s connection with the immigrant protagonist all the more direct, as he struggles to figure out an often difficult to comprehend new environment. In Tan’s own words, “Words have a remarkable magnetic pull on our attention, and how we interpret attendant images: in their absence, an image can often have more conceptual space around it, and invite a more lingering attention from a reader who might otherwise reach for the nearest convenient caption, and let that rule their imagination.”

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A wordless picture book that I haven’t read in its entirety, but is pretty good from what I’ve seen, is Journey by Aaron Becker. I like it because of its sense of wonder, and its simple, positive message about creative works can break boundaries and reach out to other people. The lack of words in this book, again, helps to place the reader in the protagonist’s place, as they discover the possibilities of their creativity over the story’s course.

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I kind of can’t name any wordless books that I think would be improved by words. Wordless picture books have their own strengths as a format; they have a certain element of discovery to them, as the reader pieces together events without the aid of a narrative text. There are some books could be adapted pretty simply, if not necessarily improved, into effective wordless books. Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are comes to mind, as do some of Beatrix Potter’s works.

I’m starting my picture book dummy based on the story of The Velveteen Rabbit. I could tell the gist of the plot of the story without words, but I feel like some nuances, such as the point the Skin Horse makes about toys becoming real, would be at least partially lost.

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.

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.

Deer Illustration Final and SCBWI Keep It Simple Art Show

Here’s my finished (I think) ink wash illustration from my concept class. Now I’ve begun Still Life, so it’s back to paintbrushes.

I did want to share some photos from our Western Washington SCBWI Keep It Simple Show. I’m lucky that it’s such a great group. Everyone was very generous and it was incredibly helpful seeing other people’s work, their tear sheets, and business cards. I’ve put in links to their websites on their works below. Check them out to be inspired. The artists are David Joaquin and Liz Wong in the top row; Maja Sereda and Tracy Wallschaleger of Red Dog Images.

The keynote speaker for the night was Jennifer Soloway of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She gave a fantastic talk on how to stand out from the slush pile, great first lines, and some of the ins and outs of being an artists’ representative.

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Inspiration – Process Thumbnails

It was busy for me last week. I’ll have to write about the SCBWI meeting in another post. Here are last week’s enlarged thumbnails from Concept Illustration. Up top is my Green Man and below Wish. I’m chose the deer thumbnail to elaborate this week.

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The other thumbnails based on the random ink – water mixes are posted below. To look at the original random ink mixes I was working with, see my previous post.

The guy at the bottom is my most atypical one – but it was the face that jumped out of ink splatters. Last week we also had an exercise in which we were to take a walk and sketch everything that we saw that was a particular color. Then we were to combine those in scenes. I can see how these exercises are creativity stretchers. I really like this class.

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Value Studies and Final Snow Queen Painting

After sketching thumbnails for my Gerda vs. the Snow Queen’s Snow Bees painting, I created 3 quick 3-value thumbnails to decide on the final composition. I found it really helps separating out the composition and value decisions before committing to a final work. Because I wanted to base the painting on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, I also want to work in the detail that he had about the palace being lit by Northern Lights.

Although I liked the extremes of values in the value study, I settled on the 3rd study because I liked the idea that the shadows on the hill would be pointing to Gerda, my focal point. I added some hills in the background to create greater depth and also added more complex branchwork in the final.

I started out with pencil and watercolor on Arches watercolor paper, but finished the piece digitally using Procreate and an Ipad Pro because I could play around with different color combinations before deciding on a final. I really like Procreate and the Apple Pencil because the process of illustrating with them is so close to real pencil, paper, and paint – but with much more flexibility with materials and undo’s. I had an earlier version, but Phil my teacher and classmate China suggested good feedback about brightening up the colors among other things. Our next assignment should be fun – drawing caricatures. I’ve picked my subject already…Edgar Allan Poe.

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Sketching Scenes with Maquettes

maquetteIn Concept Illustration, we have an assignment to design an illustration based on the broad theme of conflict (character vs character, character vs. environment etc). I’ve thought about doing illustrations from the original Snow Queen so on our thumbnail assignment, which was limited to black and white and approximately 1 x 2 inches.

I’ve always been inspired with James Gurney’s maquette work (here is his Skybax maquette made out of armature wire, sculpey, floral wire, and stockings covered with latex among other ingredients.

gurney-skybax-maquetteI liked being able to walk around the scene and vary the perspective – vertically and horizontally. I used armature wire and chavant clay which doesn’t harden.

I also had to have 2 color comps and three 3-color value sketches. My instructor picked thumbnail 3 so that’s the one I’m working on, but with more background added.

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Our discussion this past week was to collect illustrations that could be used as inspiration for creating your scene. I picked these great works by Sendak, Lathrop, and Dulac.

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Moorehead and Doubleday – Rabbits and More

Meet Moorehead (left) and Doubleday (right). They’re a work in progress. I haven’t completely decided their back story yet. The sketch was colored in with CarbOthello pastel pencils (I like them) on Canson Mi Teintes paper. I just got a pack of La Carte and also Sennelier soft pastels and will be experimenting with those too.

I’m going to take a one day pastels workshop with Janis Graves this weekend through Cole Gallery and looking forward to it. I’ll paste a sample of her art below.

Janis-Graves-birdsThe Guild of Natural Science Illustrators also posted the group mural that I worked on at the Santa Cruz Conference.

There were 3. Here’s the one I drew a little egret (corner right) catching a fish. It’s on exhibit at the Sanctuary Exploration Center that’s part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It was a great conference.

 

 

 

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