Evolution of a Character

Howdy folks. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.

Break has been lovely thus far. I haven't done a ton of art of late - some quick sketches here and there and the usual journal doodles; most of my attention of late has been turned towards writing and reassuring (in person) all of the folks I neglected all semester long that I am indeed alive and well. Fab!

In any case, I was looking in the aforementioned journal and realized I haven't posted any of my sketches. So I thought I'd take a brief little trip into my journal and share some whatnot.

During the fall term, one of our projects for Marshall involved creating a promotional piece to send to publishers and art directors. He showed us a lot of great examples from previous students... all super creative... so I started wracking my brains. Whenever I start thinking about such things, I inevitably go back to my journal for some new visual brainstorming or to get ideas from old work.

And this character (who I had been doodling a bunch at the time) stood out...

I've been doodling this marionette for a while now and have spent a bunch of time trying to figure out what her story is... but let's trace her back to her roots, shall we? She actually started out in my very early crap-o sketches as a kid dressed up for Halloween.

Which I used as the basis for my fall themed digital project in October...

And for whatever reason, I was still doodling her a month later... and I added some strings...

And the lines became more refined in this doodle...

And this one...

So after I found my little marionette as inspiration, I spent the next day and a half doodling five pages of sketches.

And I put them together on a loooong, single sheet of paper that I figured I would roll up and send out. Imagine the two halves stuck together continuously:

I will eventually use this for a promo piece, but probably for a publisher/art director who focuses on books for an older audience or perhaps even to graphic novel folks. We shall see. For the moment, though, as most of you know, I want to focus on the kids' book market, so my final promo actually ended up being a mini five-page fold-out book with some of the illustrations from Buying Lenin.

Seasons of Carl: The Last Project

Happy Winter Break everyone! (Likewise merry holiday season and happy nearly new year!)

While I am admittedly ready for a break, now that we're on holiday, I'm more than a little sad that my first semester of art school is over. The lightening-like speed with which it whoooshed by is mind-boggling. It was a crazy amazing roller-coaster ride of a school term...

And now it is done.

But I shan't dwell any further... adventures lie ahead... but before we move on, let's look at the last project of the term.

Carl's last assignment was to create a four-panel folding screen using Vivaldi's Four Seasons as inspiration. We were assigned our base material - a black board - but were otherwise free to use any method(s) of working. We also assigned a format - to divide each panel horizontally. The bottom half was to be a figurative piece using an object to represent the season. The top half was to be a non-objective (more abstract) representation using color and texture to show the season. Some of the project ideas included different bugs to represent the season (butterfly for spring, bees for summer, etc), trees throughout the seasons, animals, action figures, food, a year of Michelle Obama... we had quite a variety.

I was at a loss for a while. For a few weeks, I just played with materials trying to decide how I wanted to work and what I wanted to work on. Finally, I decided to go with my initial idea - to render a character dancing and represent the season by her movement. Spring would be walking, summer would move into something more animated - jumping or spinning, fall would be quieting down again perhaps yawning, and in the winter panel she would be asleep. Eventually I decided not just to draw four different characters, but do a progression that would span the entire width of the screen.

First I drew out my characters on tracing paper, so I could later overlap them and line them up as I went along. Then I transferred them to the board. Part of the initial progression sketch looked like this:

This shows midsummer moving through fall into winter.

Then I started to paint my composition. I did a whole bunch of tests using different materials for about two or three weeks just trying new things. You can see one of my test panels up top.

Filling more in:

Until I had all of my girls rendered:

Then I started to think about my non-objective element. I wanted it to have a similar feel to the bottom but still have a lot of energy and compliment the quiet. I decided to render each season the same way but change the colors to show the seasonal change. After another week of tests, I hauled out my paints and borrowed a toothbrush from a friend. (Yes I said toothbrush...) And just look at what a toothbrush can do:

I rendered the whole thing before cutting it up... admittedly a terrifying task. And when I finally put it together, it looked something like this:





And because it ended up as a three dimensional object, I decided the back needed something...


The Great Book Seminar Saga Part The Last: Storytime with Viktor

The Great Book Seminar Saga
Part The Last

... in which Viktor has some wine, and we conclude...

Well kids, it's that time. Time to wrap up the Book Seminar saga. It has been quite some time since I last posted on the seminar, in part due to finals madness and likewise because I didn't want to ruin the surprise of the final product. But it's done. I know... crazy. I can scarcely believe it myself... I'm still shaking my head in disbelief. Disbelief that my first semester of art school is nearly over... disbelief that we had our last class with Viktor (sniff)... and disbelief that I actually finished the project. It was looking doubtful there for a while.

But let me share!

The project actually came together last week. I ended up rendering some images that Viktor wasn't initially crazy about, but which came out pretty well. I also ended up (with some advice from our resident type-design guru... thanks Erin!) designing the book layout and not just printing out the spreads but binding them (thank you interwebs).

And without further ado, the book!

During the whole process, my studio wall exploded... there are literally five or six layers of sketches and scrap paper and test paintings...

Binding... I had never actually bound a book by myself before, so I googled some help from the trusty interwebs.



First spread:

Interior spreads with new art:

My favorite spread (old art):

And second favorite spread:

The End!

And finally I brought it to class. For our last class with Viktor, a bunch of us thought it would be spiffy to bring a few bottles of wine. When we got to class, we all hung our final work up on the wall, and class turned into a bit of a wine and art, almost art-opening sort of affair. Twas lovely. And after popping the bottles, shmoozing, and walking around and looking at all of the amazing art everyone had hung, we settled down for our final critique.

Storytime with Viktor:

Viktor was quite complimentary.

"... excellent..."

Which brings us to the saga's conclusion. So ends the book seminar, so ends class with Viktor, and so ends (nearly) the semester. But don't think that the crazy art whatnot end here. Oh no. The seminar project was only practice for our big second semester book project (essentially a mini- thesis). I daresay we're in for a whole new adventure... so stay tuned for further artness, a few more posts about winding up the semester, and all new art next term!

Naughtiness on the Blogosphere

**Disclaimer: this latest post is titled "naughtiness" for a reason... if delicate sensibilities are offended by R rated puns, perhaps it might be best to skip this particular post.

I know it's been a while. The semester is winding down, and of late, there has been little time for anything other than schoolwork. That said, my work for Viktor is nearing completion, and I should (fingers crossed) have my book finished by Thursday. In the meantime, however, I'm going to show you a silly little project from last week.

In our digital class, we've begun to talk about text and fonts and design, so for homework this week, Matthew asked us to create an image that was 50% text. The assignment was for a 4x6 illustrator-created image which four words were to occupy 50% of the space on the illustration.

Four words? With so many fabulous words and sentences and quotations and song lyrics, how to choose? I had a couple of ideas floating around, but it wasn't until Thursday that I decided on my four words.

On Thursday, my creative writing class was held at the Public Library, and a friend and I had a few moments before class to grab a cup of tea and hang out in Bryant Park. While we were hanging out, we started chatting about Matthew's homework assignment. If you haven't been to Bryant Park in December, it is positively overflowing with holiday cheer... so as jingle bells played in the background, I began to think about a holiday themed piece and started running through Christmas and Chanukah song lyrics in my head. The very first line I came up with made me laugh so hard, I nearly snarfed my tea.

It was only a tiny fraction of a line of a Christmas song, but because it was only a fraction, it was absolutely absurd... quite punny... entirely naughty... did I mention absurd?... oh, and so very very wrong.

When I could finally breathe again, I explained my idea to my friend. The uncontrollable laughing fit that ensued made it fairly clear that I had to use this idea.

If you remember last week's digital assignment, it was also on the naughty side. When I later mentioned to a member of my cohort that this week's homework was going to be even worse, someone remarked, "Wouldn't it be funny if during our critique, Matthew started opening up the homework files, and each one was naughtier than the next?" (I am of course paraphrasing.)

Um... easy answer... YES!

We all eventually decided to do naughty images... and class on Monday was HILARIOUS.

And finally, without further ado, the image that started it all:

An Apple a Day

Happy Saturday my dear readers!

I hope that it is drier where you are. Brooklyn today was and still is a cold, wet mess... but the perfect sort of day for staying inside, drinking buckets of tea, and making art. I ask you, what could be better?

So while taking a break from today's projects - further work for Viktor... I'll share soon, I promise - I realized that it's been entirely too long since I last posted.

A couple of weeks ago, we switched gears in Marshall's class and started talking about representing an entire article with a single image and turned our attention towards op-ed illustration. Marshall gave us each a copy of an actual NY Times' opinion piece and asked us to bring in sketches for the following week. AND the great thing about this project was that Marshall told us he would take all of our sketches and final illustrations and send them to the op-ed art director at the Times. GRIN!

So the big question: how to distill an entire article in a single 4 x 6 image? It's not easy. I've never made conceptual, metaphor-based or symbol-based images, so it was a really interesting project and process. It's a little like working out a puzzle, and it took me a fair amount of time... but with decent results. Marshall liked the concepts I put up and suggested I render more than one.

For your educational benefit:

And finally, my take:

Digital Whatnot

Hello everyone out in interwebs land! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!

I'm back today with an update of the digital work that I've been working on lately.

Three weeks ago, we abandoned Photoshop and moved onto Adobe Illustrator, playing around with drawing digitally, and now I have a couple of projects to show you. All of our recent assignments were and are pretty open. The first and second were the same: do two Illustrator drawings of two different objects - one man-made, one organic, and both smaller than a bread box. Because I knew next to nothing about Illustrator, I tried two different ways of drawing, the first just drawing with the mouse and the second using heaps of gradients to create volumes.

Ta da!

Not so still life #1: Fish in a Bottle!

Not so still life #2: Ladybug and Teacup

And now for something a bit different. For class this Tuesday, our homework assignment was similarly open: an 8x8 image, but not just objects this time... a full composition with the theme, New York.

I actually had too many ideas for this project. I love my city! I thought about all of my favorite corners of New York - Orchard Street and the Lower East Side; so much Brooklyn; the Upper West with the Hungarian Pastry Shop, Saint John the Divine, and the white peacock and the amazing, creepy sculpture in the sculpture garden; Lincoln Center; Bryant Park in the winter; Central Park in the fall; the market at Union Square; even the absurdity that is Times Square... the list goes on and on. I may eventually take all of my ideas for this project and render them (probably in ink or paint rather than digitally), but ultimately I went with my first idea. I had recently taken a long walk downtown on the Lower East Side and wandered past the Slipper Room. New York has been home to burlesque performers and performances since the mid-19th century, and it was burlesque - not vaudeville - that allowed amateur performers to break into show business. When most of these performers reached the vaudeville stage, they were already pros. I shan't get too cerebral... Regardless, the Slipper Room is an exciting space and burlesque an interesting and amazing kind of performance, so I decided to go with my initial idea for the project.

NY Burlesque

The Great Book Seminar Saga Part VI: What Now?

The Great Book Seminar Saga
Part VI: What Now?

...in which Lisa grosses everyone out before Thanksgiving...

Happy nearly Thanksgiving everyone! Best wishes for gatherings of family and friends and pumpkin pie!

Week eleven brought with it a couple of new paintings, a whole bunch of new sketches, and a wicked looking crawfish, and yet, no concrete work for week thirteen. (Wait, Lisa, didn't you skip week twelve? No, my mathematically-minded readers. Alas, alack, no Thursday Viktor class this week due to the tofurkey holiday.)

But no work? How can that be? you ask. How can you bring in four new sketches and not have any work to do for two weeks?

I shall explain, but first, the new finished work:
Final render of the porch scene. Double page spread.

Text-less double spread. The riverbank.

I have a little bit of tweaking to do on the riverbank scene. I may darken things up a bit. But for now, I'm happy with how it's working.

And now on to the sketches... I brought four new sketches to class:

The comments on the sketches were on target. The first is a bit too out-West-home-on-the-range for Bulgaria. The second, maybe too quiet. The scale in the third makes the crawfish look the same size as the boy... (Yegads! Crawfishzilla!) And the fourth? Not Viktor's cup of tea. Viktor suggested I look back in the story for my next sketches.

"How about the dugout scene?"

"You mean the one with the revolutionaries and the dead goat?"

Perfect picture book material, no?

Don't get me wrong... from my posts, you may get the impression that I don't like Viktor. Not true. I have been frustrated in this class, but the frustration is mostly self-directed. It has been a long haul figuring out new ways of working and trying to fit the project to my style and aesthetic. That being said, my work has evolved considerably since September, and Viktor has been a great help. He has an excellent eye, and his critiques are almost always fairly dead-on. However, there are moments when Viktor's aesthetic and my own don't necessarily overlap so well.

As to the sketches, I had hoped that I would have a few approved sketches to paint from during these two weeks, but instead, I had to take them back to the drawing board... Admittedly, I was a little frustrated leaving class last Thursday, so I put all of this class work aside. Sometimes it is just best to walk away... because when I finally returned to the sketches, I may have come up with a couple of new compositions that work even better than these originals!

But I shall leave you in suspense... you'll have to be patient. New sketches (and perhaps even a few finishes) next week!

I will, however, leave you with two presents.

The first... Prsenting Viktor (center), in yet another black t-shirt:


And thus ends Part VI and both week 11 and 12. Will Lisa draw more gigantic-creepy-crawly-roaches-of-the-river? Will she ink a sketch that (GASP!) hasn't been approved? And does Viktor own a t-shirt that isn't black? What will Part VII bring?

Find out! Next week!