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52 Weeks: Week 12 – Digital Painting!

So I missed weeks 10 and 11, and week 9 was sort of a cop-out. I didn’t miss them because I wasn’t working on art, but because of the holidays. My mind was elsewhere – with family, which is more important than anything else. It is so important to recharge and rest, and take some time away from the screen, in order to be able to create.

For Christmas, I was given a Wacom Tablet! I have been wanting one for years. Now I am on a new mission – to learn to use it, and use it well. This week, I am going to share 2 old drawings that have been re-imagined through digital painting. These are not yet where they will be when I am a little bit more experienced, but for my first week using a brand new tool, I am pretty pleased.

I would like to thank Will Terry for amazing video lessons that are explicit and affordable. I am learning quickly from him, though there is so much to learn, and that’s both scary and exciting.

Here is Ted in digital colour:

character sketches 9

Ted’s line art completed in pencil.

ted

Ted painted digitally on Photoshop.

And here is one of my monsters in digital colour:

Monster line art – in pen.

Monster painted digitally.

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52 Weeks Update: Week 9 – No Update!

Well, well, well. So it seems that after a week of sketching and painting and experimenting, I am on a great path … but I am not going to share this week.

Disappointing, I know. (Did you note my sarcasm? I am sure your world hasn’t shattered because I didn’t post anything this week!)

Here’s the thing. I intend to make a go of this professional illustrating thing, and I just can’t bring myself to post what I’ve made this week, because it isn’t anywhere near good enough yet. I will let you in, however, on what I’m working on, and intending to post for next week, hopefully.

I decided to get festive. I thought, hey, self, create a Santa character that is both within your style and not typical/commercial Santa. Make him a little different, but recognizable. Make him your own. I tried and tried and sketched and sketched and painted and scanned and photoshopped and tried again. It didn’t quite work.

Here's a non-art related thingy. Kingsley met Santa for the first time! Here is my beautiful little family enjoying the holiday season!

Here’s a non-art related thingy but still related to my topic for the week: Kingsley met Santa for the first time! Here is my beautiful little family enjoying the holiday season!

A critique partner told me, “Don’t let yourself off the hook. Keep going with him, you’ll get there.”

So, I’m not letting myself off the proverbial hook. I am, however, not posting Santa yet because he isn’t reflective of what I can do. Yet.

I found this online somewhere and stashed it in a file. I recently came across it. It rings true, so so loudly. I hope you can do this, too.

I found this online somewhere and stashed it in a file. I recently came across it. It rings true, so so loudly. I hope you can do this, too.

I also played around with some kid characters. They were lots of fun, and I enjoyed them. Most of the things in my sketch book from the past few days are fun. BUT … not quite professionally illustrated enough to earn a spot in my 52 Week Challenge, which I am upping my personal expectations for.

In the meantime, here is a monster that I love, old as he may be.

Here's a monster I love. I love monsters - don't you? He's not new, but he's awesome.

Here’s a monster I love. I love monsters – don’t you? He’s not new, but I think he’s awesome.

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52 Weeks: Week 2

This week, I’m presenting you with two illustrations … of the same thing.

Part of this whole process is in refining my style and finding a voice. I’ve drawn this character a whole bunch of ways, but these two are my favourites.

This one was done in Sharpie with water colour paint, then scanned and edited to colour the background. I like the cut and paste feel of this, in the way that Oliver Jeffers often does his “Boy” books, and wanted to experiment not only with this, but with Photoshop. I also wanted to get rid of the mucky white of the sketchbook page behind Miss Molly. This character is inspired by a real-life Miss Molly, who I’ve never met, but know through an old friend’s/her mom’s Facebook account. She’s hilarious and sassy. I like a lot about this, though I’m not entirely sold on the quality of the marker or the scan.

missmollytry1

The next one was done in Sharpie, then scanned and painted in Photoshop with multiple layers. Talk about a learning curve. I actually darkened the outline in a layer, removed all of the “inside” white and laid it overtop of the coloured layer. If you don’t use Photoshop, then this is gibberish, but it was a good learning opportunity for me. I like the style of her legs and arms – they’re fun and carefree, but I’m not sure they’re totally “me”, y’know? I’m not convinced I LOVE the computer paint … it feels a bit … cold and cheap. Some people paint incredible pictures in photoshop … I’m not there yet. The lines in this one I’m not crazy about either. I like a lot of the “feel” but go back and forth.

Miss Molly Try 2

Overall, I think (in this moment) I prefer Miss Molly #1. Maybe you don’t. That’s okay! It’s all just about practice and exploration for me at this point in the challenge. Constructive criticism is certainly welcome.

Next week, I’m hoping to build an entire page … however, it is Hallowe’ek, so that may not happen. Stay tuned!

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52 Weeks of Art

I’ve been writing for years now, and I believe it’s been 10 years (on and off) that I’ve been tinkering away on picture book and chapter book manuscripts. I’ve been telling people I illustrate, and I did actually illustrate 3 small charity press picture books, but they are no where near the level of illustration I believe I could and should be working at. In addition to all of this, I’m dying to find an agent and market myself as an author/illustrator, author AND illustrator. Before I can fully submit myself to agents as all of these, I need to build my art portfolio in addition to my polished pieces of writing.

The challenge, as with any creative activity, is to find your voice – that style that is nothing other than YOU. I paint all of the time, but those are not illustrations, nor are they the style I want to illustrate in. So it’s been bogging me down – how do I build a really great portfolio? What do I include? How do I do this and not lose focus, when I’m working full time, side-jobbing part time, and now have a new (awesome) baby to be Daddy to? The answer struck me a couple of weeks ago, and fermented in my brain:

One illustration a week, for a year.

Yes, you read that correctly. I am committing to producing a MINIMUM of one QUALITY illustration per week, for a year.

The end goal is to have enough high quality pieces to build a portfolio that I can use when querying agents and publishers, but also I am hoping that much like PiBoIdMo does for those of us who do it (Picture Book Idea Month – 1 idea a day for a month), it will kick-start my creative brain and focus me in on producing. Once producing, I will certainly produce some garbage (just today I spent the afternoon TRYING to create … it didn’t work … but I tried …) and will eventually produce my voice on paper, visually. I’ll be posting them here as a motivator to keep me going. It’s a game I’m playing against myself! Your feedback will also come in handy (but be gentle, please!)!

I will organize these by having a focus per week, which will help me to build the sections of my portfolio. They include:
– children
– animals
– settings
– black & white (chapter book illustrations)

Sub-categories could include any of the above (ie., Children is the category, but there was also a focus on the setting, like a barn or field, etc.), and things like: high-action, holidays, music, etc.

During this, I hope to illustrate for my own pleasure and practice, the lyrics to some of my favourite songs by Angus Stone, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, and The Beatles.

I’ll post my illustrations on Saturday mornings, for the next year. By (Canadian) Thanksgiving next year, I hope to have a lot more to be thankful for than I already am!

Now, while Kingsley sleeps, it’s off to the drawing board – literally. Look for my first illustration on Saturday, October 18.

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No ideas? Reflect instead.

As I continue through this 30 day challenge, I find myself wading through a pond of pointless ideas. Not that the ideas are pointless in their existence! What I mean is, the ideas have no point. There is no meat to them. At all! I have flashes of ideas and then they fizzle. I am hoping that over the month, some of the ideas can come together, colliding into genius. The sort of genius that makes me a million bucks would be great, but I’ll take an idea solid enough to turn into a manuscript at the very least.

I am fortunate to have an extremely supportive partner. My wife fully, absolutely supports my art habit. She recognizes that writing, painting, drawing … creating, in general, makes me happy. It makes me my truest form of myself – all pros and cons involved.

She lets me make a disaster of the main floor as I wade through paintings. She lets me banish her to her upstairs office (it’s not that bad, actually – it’s a darn nice space!!!) while I work on manuscripts. She lets me say “We’re going to have to eat at the coffee table, because this painting is wet,” even though I have a studio space in our unfinished basement.  There’s just something about that space that doesn’t excite me, and it’s been limiting my creative output lately. Most recently, I’ve taken to painting at the table, while we listen to music or movies.

See? Here is some of my mess!

ImageHow many wives out there would let their husbands paint at the dining room table? Granted, it’s making us some money, as it’s a commissioned piece, but still.

With a number of Christmas commissions on the go, I’ve been forcing my mind to create. You’ve heard it before – creativity is 5% inspiration and 95% hard work. I’d be willing to say it’s more like a 1/99 per cent ratio. This weekend, rather than taking it off as a normal teacher would, I worked through both days to create this mural:

ImageIn doing so, I continued to refine a style. As I worked away at it, I considered how I was painting. I mean, nine hours of painting a white tree with similar branches and leaves isn’t the most inspiring work, but it sure does give you time to reflect. As I stepped away, I found myself pleased with the form. I thought, “I wonder how this would look smaller, on a large canvas. I wonder how this could become part of my illustrative style.” These wonders are what I need to keep moving. I always fear, no matter what I am doing – teaching, writing, arting – that if I do something the same way for too long, it will grow stale, and I will be seen as lazy. I am constantly on the reflective hunt for things to keep, change, or toss.

The painting I’m working on now is a style I have been working on for a little over a year. I am starting to wonder how it would look in a picture book. I’ve only ever illustrated in ink and water colours – but what if I built a better portfolio, with acrylic paintings as well?

Image

So many wonders. While my pond of ideas is a bit shallow, this PiBoIdMo focus has certainly re-energized me and sent me into a highly constructively-critical self assessment. It’s time to get serious!

 

 

 

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