Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Peek Into My Creative Process

WIP - book illustration (copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2013)
Do not share, pin, re-post or in any way re-use this
picture without the artist's express permission.

As most of you know, art doesn’t usually spring forth, fully-formed, like Athena from Zeus’ noggin.’ Instead, it’s a deliberate process, sometimes requiring a great deal of tinkering to get just “right.” Myself, I’m not a fussy artist, constantly going over the same passage (whether in a story or in a painting) again and again until perfection is reached. Oh sure. I revise and build with care. But there’s a feeling you get when something is “right” or "complete" and I tend to stop somewhere around there. How do you get there? Through blind feeling, contemplation, and experimentation.

Pen and ink is an unforgiving medium that doesn’t handle mistakes well. Back in the day (before Photoshop), it was much more difficult. You needed to know the road you were taking with your piece and follow it boldly, pressing on without fear. This is still true now even if you can now make corrections later on the computer. You still need a road to follow.

The current book illustration is a bit of a deviation from the rest. It’s much more Heath Robinson and less H.J. Ford. What does that mean? It means it’s a more decorative panel, less busy, and much more “designed.” Why? Somehow this just fits the scene better. (Thank God I don’t have a publisher who’ll slap my hand and say, “No! It’s not consistent with the others. Do it over!" *blown raspberry*)

Contrast studies underway
As you can see in this photo, I’m currently doing contrast tests for the final illustration. I’ve made notes in the margins of things I like and things that aren’t working for me. I’ve already made some final decisions but haven’t figured all of it out yet. I won’t move forward with the final piece until I have all the details worked out on these photocopied test sheets. This may take a little time to work out, but it'll be worth the time for having the final piece balanced out to my satisfaction.

Okay, now back to our scheduled contemplations...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Quick Update

I’ve been working on the next book illustration for the past day or so. This drawing features a very tall character interacting with the heroine, who is petite. I am fascinated by Golden-Age illustrators who show giants (or giant-sized characters) with human proportions. They just made them extra-tall. Most contemporary artists/illustrators show taller/larger characters with smaller heads, proportionally. This makes the characters look less human. You can see this convention used in everything from manga (Japanese comics) to movies (trolls in movies like The Hobbit or Harry Potter.)

HJ Ford illustration showing a giant and
a regular-sized person (same proportions.)
I like the old-fashioned approach better. Not only is it quite charming, but it gives the viewer a much better sense of the size-differential between the characters (see above). I decided to use this older approach in my new book illustration, making my tall character a larger-proportioned person instead of "pushing" his proportions and making him looking weird or inhuman. I’m pleased with the over-all feeling of the piece so far.

Modern giants - trolls from the movie "The Hobbit."
Notice the strange proportions and the smallish heads.
More to come soon! Now, back to the drawing board...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sketching in Everett today

“At Howarth Park.” Watercolor in a
Stillman and Birn Delta sketchbook

It’s been a while since I’ve done any sketching outdoors. Mainly this is because I’ve been so busy with the novel, but also because it took a while for the good weather to finally get here. Today was such glorious weather that Matt and I decided to go out to Everett to be near the sea. We went to Howarth Park and relaxed in a picnic area overlooking the water. I did this little watercolor sketch while we were there. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Daily Report: Retro design and pulp book covers

"Privateer Princess" pulp cover
Forgive me if I wax nostalgic for a moment, but I just love pulp covers. Not only because the art is pretty unique and the design humorous, but also because the camp factor is just way off the charts! I discovered Bradley W. Schenck’s site, “Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual” and his wonderful Pulp-O-Mizer fairly recently and had a great time today designing faux pulp covers for my new novels. Here are a few that I made. Obviously the art isn’t mine, but the ideas are. Such fun!

"Tales of the Ciodali" pulp cover.

Beyond that, I ironed out a few tough and stringy bits from the middle of Book I and also continued my editing polish of Book II. So it was a good day, really. Kind of strange in some ways…but thinking about pulp titles and stories will do that to you. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daily Report

The latest book illustration is now finished, complete with border and caption. It was a super-great day for manuscript revisions. I worked through a particularly thorny problem in Book I. I also washed my car, unfortunately just before it rained, and let's see...our new automatic garage door opener was installed (but not by me.)

So a good day all around. :-)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Daily Report: The next book illustration

Book illustration, copyright Sara Light-Waller.
(Please do not share, pin, or in any other way distribute without permission.)

Here’s a glimpse at the newest book illustration - an ornate silver box. As you can see, the drawing is now about half-done. This drawing has a very complex initial drawing. From here, I will add contrast to build additional depth.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Looking back & looking forward

Tonight I took a journey back through time to see how this blog has progressed over it's three and a half year run. So much has happened in that time! Many new pieces of art have been produced, articles on art theory and instruction shared, art shows entered, and several books (with illustrations) created. I have to say that I'm pleased with what I've accomplished over the past several years. It is easy to forget your own progress as you journey forward, but sometimes the check-in is critical. Today I stand on the edge of a brand new landscape. One with two illustrated novels in various states of completion. Each day brings me closer towards being able to share them with you. And for that I am most grateful. After all, what good is a storybook if there's no one to read and enjoy it?

Hugs to all!