Thursday, October 28, 2010

Evolution of a T-rex

My daughter Aislin really inspired me with her request for a T-rex. And I've managed to surprise myself with what I've come up with so far. Apparently, I really love painting dinosaurs! Here's a peek at how my T-rex's tail is coming along. Above is a photo I took of the work yesterday, and below is a photo taken today. I'm looking forward to sharing this one in completed form with you soon. And to doing more fully expanded dinosaur illustrations, adding backgrounds and environment into the mix.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm back...and with inspiration

As I somewhat expected, my couture invitation business found it's way to front and center over the past 9 months. The result? A fabulous wedding season, but little time to illustrate. As the season winds down, I find myself itching to get back to my first love...drawing and painting. But I'll admit I feel a little spent in the creativity department. As much creativity as it takes to design and create thousands of invitations...owning a business, parenting small children, and helping to keep a household running, demand even more creativity. So now that I'm ready to illustrate. Where do I find inspiration?

This time I've happened to find it in a lunchbox, in the form of a napkin note. I write them for my daughter Leah, and being the future writer and illustrator she hopes to be, she instantly started writing them back to me. Since she's still learning to spell, many of her notes to me (which are left on my kitchen table each morning) are riffs on whatever I wrote and drew for her the day before. She'll often copy the larger words I used from one of my old notes (it's sweet to see that they don't often end up in the kindergarten garbage bin), and rearrange them. What a treat to see my doodles and ideas reinterpreted through the eyes of a child! I have felt very inspired by her feedback, additions, and the freedom with which she creates. I just love how graphic and stylized her tulips and fairy skirts are. Why didn't I ever think of that!? I'm experimenting with ways of applying this inspiration to what I'm drawing and painting now, and I have a feeling I will always have a critic in my oldest child.

In fact, when she saw a watercolor sketch I'm doing using an "Illustrator's Reference Guide" for reference...she was interested to hear about how I used the guide and gave me some feedback on my work in progress. Hearing her say "You always use such nice, bright colors" made my day. Thanks for the inspiration Leah, and to my daughter Aislin as well...who recently asked for a drawing of a T-rex. A subject I'd never choose to paint on my own. I hope to share with you all my interpretation of a T-rex sometime soon!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The dance that is Illustration...

I love to dance. I spent age 4-16 dancing ballet, took up modern in college, taught tap and jazz to little kids for a spell, and still dream about the dances I'd choreograph when I hear certain music. All the while I was drawing, painting, and printing dancers. This is a current illustration in progress that I thought I'd share to give you some insight into my process and the way I do things. It's an experiment, a sketch just for practice and fun. And when I really want to have fun and just enjoy the painting, I often choose dancers as my subject.

This is the start of my interpretation of this photograph by iconic dance photographer Paul Kolnik. It's Peter Martins and Suzanne Farrell from NYC Ballet, performing "Diamonds" from the great Balanchine ballet "Jewels." I'd say the painting is about two-thirds of the way done. Some of the spacing is a tad off, but already this painting is serving a purpose. I am so driven to practice, practice, practice my technique lately and this painting has helped me do that. It's kept my interest, forced me to make modifications, and allowed me to see where I can make changes and improvements.

One stand-out change I decided to try with this piece is to limit my usually rainbow color palette to a more select group of colors. So far, I think that aspect of the piece is working well and lends something to the mood, while still retaining a sense of my style. What do you think? I look forward to posting the finished product whenever that happens, so keep an eye peeled for that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sweets & Treats

Lately I've been working on improving certain aspects of my illustration. I want to become stronger at rendering animals. I also want to get better at drawing faces, and the expressions and emotions they contain. Eventually I'd like to push these into character studies that show a consistency to my work. So, meet my first attempt at an animal/character that enabled me to practice all of those things at once. For the most part, I naturally favor drawing kids, human beings, fairies and the like, but I found it really interesting and fun to work with an animal in this case and at the same time capture that creature's emotions and expressions.

I created this original work for an auction that's going on at my children's school. Here's hoping it's picked up by a family or person who is touched by the gentle, yet formidable, joy that this elephant is compelled to share. As well as the very real joy I experienced creating it. I love to paint and draw. As I heard my daughter's teacher say (in reference to dancing to beautiful classical music. Another true love of mine as well!)..."it makes my heart happy." Illustrating definitely makes my heart happy. Here's hoping that each of you reading this get to do some of whatever makes your own heart happy today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Is it Spring Yet?

Looking for great art quotes? Look no further than Picasso. Here's a great collection. My favorite Picasso quote is:

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. "
Pablo Picasso

I'll admit, I am not always very eager to do what I "cannot do." It would appear that's just an attempt at a failure waiting to happen, right? And I don't really like to fail. But aren't failures a (very important) part of the learning process? I know they are. You can take it from me, an artist and person who has been failing and consequently growing A LOT lately.

This is a little something I had to whip up for my day job (second only to the all-consuming job of Motherhood), as owner and principal designer at Bride Design. Creating this minimalist version of some summer callas went against my natural way of painting. What? I can't use every color in the box on this one? Just purple and green you say? No pen? Just paint? In the end it wasn't a success for the client, or myself, which was disappointing. But I did learn while creating it. Not only did I learn better "how" to paint in this different way just as Picasso talks about, but I also learned FROM the experience of doing and failing at it too.

Failures have an amazing way of leading to focus for me. I'm starting to befriend them, as ultimately these pesky and sometimes painful little wrong-turns, lead towards change, movement, momentum and hopefully, success (whatever that means.)!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wouldn't it be nice...

It may sound cliché, but I've always loved books for the escape they offer. As a kid reading Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, I'd get sucked into the adventure and narrative. Now as a mom reading picture books, I get lost in the nightly ritual of settling into a comfortable spot, reading the familiar words of a story, finding new things hidden in the pictures (like I did in Helen Crag's gorgeous illustrations for Angelina at the Fair last evening), and calming myself and my children with the rythmic turning of pages.

It's easy to lose one's self while reading, and I've found it's easy to lose one's self while creating an illustration as well. So to celebrate "getting lost" I figured I'd post a picture of some place I'd like to be. As snow swirls outside and a burgeoning calendar bursts with activities for the next few months, I'd love to be exploring (in this case with an adorable little one in wellies and sunscreen of course!) a lush garden in New England somewhere. Actually, it would be even better if I was just visiting these hospitable people. I'm just off the page to the right in an adirondack chair, with sunglasses, lemonade, and if I'm lucky a drawing pad. I can enjoy the giggles of that little one and my own little ones who are also somewhere playing in the distance. See how easy it is to get lost? Where are you getting lost to these books, in creative pursuits, and in life?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Contemplating my Navel

So what have I been doing since the new year started? A LOT. Or at least that's what it feels like! Not the least of which has been thinking about the direction I want my life to take, and that includes many factors such as children, husband, family, art, business, community, philanthropy, spirituality, and more. Honestly, It's overwhelming. So instead, I'll just sit and focus on something smaller. Something I can handle, like this drawing.

I created this for a wonderful picture book manuscript authored by a friend. It actually looked like it was getting of the ground, but nothing came of it. Still, I love this drawing nonetheless. Perhaps I'm partial to how much this rendering resembles the model....although she's grown quite a bit from this sweet toddler/early preschooler phase. Now the curious little girl from this picture is starting to sound-out phrases, draw illustrations to the stories she dreams up all by herself, and can even read a few words all on her own. Thrilling and exciting do not even begin to cover it! Celebrating and learning about the world of books is something I know I will be doing in 2010. What will you do?