Book Project Part IV: And Another and Another and Another... Spring Break

Book Project Part IV: And Another and Another and Another... Spring Break

In which there is bronchitis and much painting...

Apologies for the belatedness of the post... Spring break was already quite some time ago, and I am thankfully bronchitis-less. I thought that I had put this up a few weeks ago, but alas I was mistaken. In any case, I spent much of March alternately painting and coughing, and despite the aforementioned bout of plague-style-illness, I got quite a bit of work done.

Thanks to Carl's bit of advice, I forged ahead on my project, decidedly not stalling on making paintings, and over the break, I actually finished two and a half spreads.

The first... I'm feeling just okay about... it may in fact not make it into the final book. (I did another two versions of my dummy this week - which I shall save for a future post - but in both versions, this particular painting didn't make the final cut. I'm glad I rendered it, but we shall see.) The second was incredibly fun to paint, and it shows. The third is the opening page of the book, and was similarly enjoyable.

Saturday Craft Fun!

Hello dear readers!

Well look at that... two posts in one day! Aren't you lucky? I usually keep my blog posts to the art school whatnot, but I decided that afternoon craft projects counted as art.

Today was marvelous, and after I finished my school related post this morning, I spent much of the day out of doors. One of my closest friends from college drove out for a visit, and we spent the first part of the day walking around Prospect Park (glooorious) and then headed back to my apartment to make Pysanka or Ukranian Easter eggs. We had made them a few times before in college, and today felt like an excellent day for that sort of crafty fun. When you actually know what you're doing, they can be amazingly beautiful; the process is batik-like where you cover up the bits you want white with wax, dye the egg the next lightest color, then cover those bits up with wax, dye the egg the next color, and so on.

Alas, Sarah has all of the in-process photos, which include such classics as Blowing All of the Nasty Goop Out of the Egg Through a Pin Hole, Ow Ow Ow or Lightheaded From Trying to Blow the Nasty Goop Out of the Egg, My Fingers are Ridiculous Colors, Fishing An Egg Out of a Cup with Chopsticks, among others. So sadly, all you have here are pictures of our finished eggs... not to mention an impromptu project to use up all of the aforementioned egg goop.

My first egg... yes that is a crack... I dropped it somewhere between the green dye and red dye stage... I finished it anyway.

Yes I tried scrubbing the dye off. Alas, my fingers are all kinds of colors... what else is new?

Side view of Egg Numero Uno

Oeuf Deux: A Study of Swirlies


Impressive Eggs

And finally, the pièce de résistance: Pecan Cake with Strawberries

Book Project Part III: Advice and Paint

Book Project Part III: Advice and Paint

In which I follow some excellent advice, and though the book's story remains unfinished, full color arrives...

Happy gorgeous and marvelous Saturday everyone! If you are not currently outside, I heartily suggest you postpone reading this silly post and get yourself out of doors. The weather is amazing and deserves appropriate celebration and sun-soaked revelry. As soon as I finish this, I intend to spend the rest of my day definitively out. But let's get to it, shall we?

In the week following the disastrous upside-down-world-flipping meeting, I had a critique class with Marshall and Carl. After I'd hung all of my new dummy spreads on the wall, Marshall told the rest of the class about my meeting with our creative writing teacher, and he said (and of course I am paraphrasing...), "This is something that will happen to all of you. Someone will say something about your work that will turn you on your head. It's inevitable; it happens to everyone. What remains to be seen is how long it keeps you turned around. Is it a week? A month? A year? Your entire career...?" It is an excellent point... how long do you let self-doubt and questioning keep you from doing what you love?

And Carl's comment perfectly complemented Marshall's words. He told us not to let being unsure keep us from making art. Even though I may still be a little up in the air about the direction of the story itself, there are certain pages that I'm already sure I want in the book. Carl's advice was to render them... go paint! Do what makes you happy!

And so I did...

And in doing so made two images that I'm pretty excited about.

Thus dear readers, I shall leave you. Go do what makes you happy and squeeze every bit of awesome out of your Saturday.

Book Project Part II: Delays

Book Project Part II: Delays

In which the project is nearly scrapped and an identity crisis ensues...

Again, apologies for the delay with these. This week was technically Spring "break"... I use the term "break" extremely loosely because break for me meant a week of 8 hr (sometimes 8+, except for Tuesday, when I took the afternoon off) workdays in the studio. As such, I finished three (soon to be four) new paintings for this very project, which I'm not going to post tonight because we have a bit of catching up to do first. Soon, dear readers, soon... all in good time.

So let's get to it, shall we? When I last left you, I had just finished the first dummy for the book. It was fairly complete - a full 32 pages - textless, but complete. And then, then there was the meeting - the meeting that turned everything upside down.

Each of us met with our creative writing teacher, who, when it was my turn, suggested that I scrap my entire project. I'm not going to go into the gory details, but it led to a series of successive identity crises that had me questioning everything from the kind of work I do, how I do it, why I want to do kids' books, if that's really what I want to spend my time on... oof... exhausting. Ultimately I did not scrap the story, but I spent the next three weeks doing heaps of sketches, reworking the story itself, changing it from the inside out, and playing with adding text. In my last post, I mentioned that I felt that the story lacked a central conflict, and while the reworking isn't entirely complete, the story arc is much more solid. So the crisis-inducing meeting, despite turning my world upside-down and inside-out for much of February, ultimately strengthened the story, forcing me to push it further. There is a lot I still have to work out about the story line and actual text of the manuscript, but the ideas are there.

And as I mentioned earlier, only one of the sketches you've seen made it into the book. Post crisis, the new dummy had 30 new illustrations (a number of which, I'm still doing revisions on). Here are a handful of the new images:

After spending so many weeks working out the story and sketching, the next step in my process was to start figuring out how I wanted to render the artwork. Watercolor? Ink? Gouache? Acrylic? So many options! I knew that I wanted a really saturated series of images, so I started looking back at the work I had rendered last term and finally came to Carl's final project - a folding screen rendered on black rag board. Perfect! Because the story takes place at night, the dark board would be perfect for rendering night skies and likewise would help the colors pop and shine in vibrant contrast to the black background. And so I gave it a go, rendering a couple of test illustrations in gouache on bits of board leftover from the Four Seasons screen.


And thus, I'm on my way.

And so I shall leave you until next time (until the first of the colored spreads and spring break paintings) with this marvelous quote by Madeleine L'Engle (who was, it is worth noting, a Smithie).

"You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children."

Sick Day Mosaics

Well well well, aren't you lucky? Two posts in one day! And all because I caught a case of the plague. Though to give my germs the benefit of the doubt, if they're not bubonic related, they might be swine flu or maybe SARS. I'm fairly convinced. But enough about me and my disease, let's talk art!

So as not to infect the entire studio, I spent the day working from home today, tackling a project for my gouache class. This week we were playing with using gouache to mimic other materials, in this case, mosaic. Goache is a pretty excellent type of paint - it dries fast, it's opaque, and most importantly it builds up and layers wonderfully. Using the gouache over a dark field of burnt umber, it is indeed possible to paint loads and loads of teeny tiny, itty bitty squares, building up the paint until it has the feel of mosaic tile... which is how I spent the past six hours.

And because we were using it to mimic an older art form, one with its roots in the Greek and Roman era, the theme of our assignment was "Emperor Obama". (N.B. Excuse me, while I just make one quick disclaimer. This is not a political statement, nor should it be taken as such. I daresay most of you lovely people out there in blog land already know my political leanings, as I tend to be vocal about such things. But again, please do not infer, assume, or read into this project as anything other than a piece of art that I had fun making to fill the constraints of a homework assignment. End serious note.)

First try, just playing with method, I did a one inch square. Definitely a little smooshy looking, but an ok first attempt.

And without further ado:
The Empresident

Book Project Part I: The Saga Begins Anew

Book Project Part I:
The Saga Begins Anew

In which lions become rabbits and things get off the ground... and by things, I mean rabbits...

Long awaited, I know, but here we are... finally, FINALLY a post about the second semester book project. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, Viktor is no longer with us this term. We do, however, have a new book project. This semester, Marshall and Carl have joined forces to create one incredible team... I feel as though they should have superhero names or a daring duo sort of title. (Note, I am taking suggestions, so feel free to write in with your best picks.) ... alas, digressing... Marshall and Carl have teamed up to run our book project workshop.

The project is essentially a mini-thesis. In past years, the dynamic duo (not official title) have given a general theme or over-arching subject for the project. This year, however, the project was left wiiiiiiide open. At the end of first semester, Marshall and Carl left us essentially with: We trust you. Imagine what you will. Now, go forth and make art.

When we arrived back at school in January, we had to have a proposal ready to go... which I did. For this project, I had two ideas, both revolving around New York City. The first was a book of short stories with illustrations in all different styles and mediums and all different characters and styles of narration; the main character in the book, however, would have been the city itself. The second idea, just the kernel of an idea really, was for a wordless picture book about a wild night-time romp around the city but which ultimately lacked a central conflict. Over break, I wrestled with my ideas, wrote A TON, but ultimately decided to do the picture book despite the missing conflict.

And so I drew and I drew and I drew and then guess what? Yes! I drew some more. I spentmuch of the beginning of the project sketching thumbnails and putting together a book dummy (essentially a mock-up of the entire book). A traditional picture book is 32 pages, so I used that as my framework and kept drawing.

This round of sketches went through major revisions... and of the sketches I'm sharing with you today - believe it or not - only one of them made the final cut in its original form.

In the next bunch, you can see the progression of sketches... sometimes I do some very general outlines and flesh it out later.

So there you have it... the first of many posts about the second semester book project... stay tuned for further adventures in which I tell you more about my actual idea and how the story has changed entirely and even - GASP - how I was told to scrap the whole project and start over. Stay tuned dear readers! There are more sketches, black rag board, tons of paint, and color ahead!