Thursday, March 31, 2011

Exhausted but pleased!

“Woman Reading [Harper’s] Bazaar”
Well, I did it! I finished (and submitted) my piece for the Rock Your Inner Rockwell contest. I am very pleased with the results. Not only do I think it turned out well (and on time!) but I was also most happy with my process. I’d like to walk you through it today in case others might be interested.

With such a short deadline (see last post) I had to work fast to get this piece done. I started by taking a careful look at the composition and color palette of the original Rockwell piece I was recreating. In “Girl Reading The Post.” Rockwell used a cool color palette that was loosely organized into a split complementary color scheme. I decided to follow the master’s advice and also stick with cool colors in a split complementary palette. I didn’t choose the same colors Rockwell used in his piece, but since the scheme was similar, I knew that it would appear similar enough.

I decided to work a little smaller in size (9"x12') than I might ordinarily, again to save time. I intended to use only my Prismacolors for this piece but ran into some problems which encouraged me to expand my pencil choices. The biggest problem was that all of my pencil sharpeners started having major issues at once. I like to work with very sharp points and my good old Panasonic electric sharpener crapped out on me late yesterday. I then turned to several manual sharpeners and started having trouble with them too, breaking leads and chewing up casings. When I finally thought to dig up a few graphite pencils to sharpen between my waxy Prismas, things got better. But by then I’d so destroyed a few of my single pencil colors (see if I go into a rush piece with only one of any color again!)  that I needed to pull out some Polychromos to fill in. (I do love the Polychromos colors, they are so vibrant!) I also got out my Verithins to use for some of the detail work on the magazine cover. I must say they handled the details fabulously.

It’s rare for me to do a slice-of-life urban scene like this. But it turns out that I really enjoyed the subject matter and process I used to create it. With this one done, perhaps I’ll turn my hand to other similar subjects. It’s a new and intriguing idea for me and one I’m most curious to explore. :-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another contest?! What???

"Girl Reading The Post" by Norman Rockwell
I write this under another incredible deadline. What?!! Ok, let’s start from the beginning…

Last weekend Matt and I ventured down to the Tacoma Art Museum to take in a wonderful traveling show of Norman Rockwell’s art including ALL the covers he did for “The Saturday Evening Post.” That represented over 300 covers spanning more than 50 years. Wow!

I love Rockwell. He was a modern master and incredibly expert at what he did. It was truly amazing seeing so much of his work in one place. So very inspiring to me both as an illustrator and as someone who frequently works from photographs. He did both right, really right!

While we were there we also participated in an interactive exhibit called “Mighty Tacoma: Photographic Portrait” an exhibition to honor the museum’s 75th anniversary. You can see our picture (mugging for the camera in a very Rockwell manner) on my Flickr site. I really like that museum, it was really friendly and well put together. If we lived closer I would definitely be a docent for them, no question about it.  :-)

I brought home a “City Arts” magazine from the museum and saw that the magazine and the museum are collaborating on an art contest wherein you are asked to update one of Rockwell’s pieces in your own voice. Then, as fantastic coincidence would have it, later that day I saw a woman in EXACTLY THE SAME POSE as one of the Rockwell pieces in the show. My mouth dropped open! I quickly grabbed my phone and took a quiet snapshot. And so here we are…

The deadline for the contest is this Thursday! My piece is now well under way and looks good so far. I’ll write a blog entry about my process later in the week but for now I’m am chugging along full speed to the music of Paul Simon. Here I go, with the wind filling my sails.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Walker and Cocoa

"Walker & Cocoa" (16"x 20" Prismacolor pencils on Stonehenge paper)
I've been working on this portrait for a while but can finally show it off since I delivered it to my happy clients today. This is a portrait of Walker and Cocoa, two young German Short-Haired Pointers. They are brother and sister and as unlike as they could be. Walker (with the mottled coat) is a mellow male and Cocoa (mainly solid brown) is a very active female. They're each in training to be field hunting dogs and, as I understand it, Cocoa is a hunting star. Walker is good too, mind you, but Cocoa is fast and sharp-eyed. Girls take note, this little dog has it all over the big guys! ;-)

Steampunk Journal

Idea Ledger and bookmark

Today, I decided I needed a bigger journal (as opposed to a sketchbook) in which to keep my notes, ideas for new art and designs, and other catch-all-write-down stuff. I decided to spruce up a very old, hard-backed journal that's been sitting on my shelf for a while now.

I am really fond of Steampunk and couldn't resist giving this journal a Steampunk theme. The card on the lower left is a bookmark, made large because the journal is large. I had such fun doing this one that I'm thinking I may do a few more to sell on Etsy. Yeah!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking for Lucy

It has long been my opinion that our artistic styles, as we develop them, may be reminiscent of someone else’s, sometimes purely by accident. As an illustrator I have copied styles from stylistic Japanese manga to primitive Grandma Moses. My own style has always had a high “cute“ factor to it. I also really like drawing and painting horses and dogs. Familiar with English horse sports and fox hunting in particular, English hunting art has always been present in my life, even if I have never actively collected it.

Last week I was visiting a friend who is an art collector and shop owner specializing in English hunting art. I had gone to see her to look at the works of Cecil Aldin (1870-1935), an artist whose style apparently resembled my own. I found much to admire and aspire to in Aldin’s work. I was determined to study him and learn what I could from his pieces.
Cecil Aldin puppy
At the same time I became curious to research other artists of the early and mid-20th century who worked with similar subject matter. Enter Lucy “Mac” Dawson (1874(?)-1954), a popular mid-century illustrator, best known for her dog art. I had never heard of Lucy Dawson before that day but, to my great surprise, my style resembles hers even more than it resembles Aldin’s. Whoa!

Lucy Dawson Spaniel

I find Dawson’s work delightful and what I have found of it online, has provided me a good platform to study. It is clear to me that the subtlety of both Aldin and Dawson’s work still a bit beyond my grasp. But with both of them as my lamplight, I can see that I can get there. I definitely can get there. Picking up my hardly ever used oil pastels, I created a few small dog pieces to further explore the style. Such a happy experience! ;-)

Some dogs: oil pastel, pencil, and pen
Of course, none of this post refers to my horse art. I can find no samples of Lucy Dawson's horses, if in fact she ever did any. But no matter, Cecil Aldin did, and with his good example, I look forward to bringing some more horses to light in my art very soon. :-)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sketching hounds today

I grew up in Potomac, Maryland, home to the venerable Potomac Hunt. Two out of my first three horses were fox-hunters and although I have not been on a hunt in a very long while, it is difficult to forget the good times and excitement of hunting season.

I remain of fan of hunting art and yesterday was reminded of the late 19th and early 20th artist, Cecil Aldin, an artist famous for his hunting scenes. In his honor, I couldn’t resist doing a page of hound sketches. Unfortunately these are not from life, as I don’t have connections to the hunt down in the Fort Lewis area, but they do bring back memories from my teenage years.

These sketches are a mix of pen & ink and colored pencil on craft paper.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sketching in Seattle today

At least I started by sketching in Seattle today and then it rained and rained and rained! So I had to bring my urban sketch home and finish it there. This is the Fremont Troll. We used to live in this neighborhood of Seattle and I have always meant to draw it. So on the day I finally got around to it the heavens open up and drown me out. *phsst* Ah well, it IS Seattle after all.