Series 2

chickens, rooster, free range, painting, art, farm scene, folk life

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been taking a class from Carla Sonheim. This is with a cadre of international students and an enthusiastic, multi talented instructor. I am as happy as can be…and learning so much.

This year’s curriculum is about creating in a series.

Any serious artist can tell you that coming up with a meaningful subject and thoughtful series is difficult.

What am I trying to communicate?

This is a step forward from learning technique and developing a style.

It reminds me of learning French. You know the vocabulary and the verb tenses but can you have a conversation?

My second series is based on the outdoors, the freedom, the colors, and freshness of the idealized farm life. I used latex paint and acrylics with charcoal and ink for materials.

chicken, farm life, painting, art, folk life
Why Did the Chicken? Acrylic and Mixed Media. 16″ x 20″. $295.
chicken, still life, tropical flowers, free range chicken, art
On Vacation. Acrylic and Mixed Media. 16″ x 20″. $295.
chicken, starry night, farmyard, free range chicken, art, painting
Starry Night. Acrylic and mixed media, 16″ x 20″, $295.

…and the chickens that look as though they are plucked and ready for the frying pan….

chickens, free range chickens, horse, starry night, pasture, art, painting, folk art
What’s for Dinner? Acrylic and Mixed Media, 20″ x 16″, $295.

The colors of the outdoors and the imagined cutting garden of magazine photographs are so inviting.

still life and purring machine wm

Master of all He Surveys. Acrylic and mixed media, 16″ x 20″, $295.

 

Bird, flowers, still life, painting, art, bird watcher
Hide and Seek. Acrylic and mixed media, 16″ x 20″ stretched canvas, $295.
cat, flowers. still life, folk art, painting, art
Biding His Time. Acrylic and Mixed Media. 20″ x 30″. $750.
fullsizerender-27
Spring Forth. Acrylic and mixed media, 18″ x 24″, $495.

Options for the third series are on my mind. Am I ready to have a conversation?

 

Competition Cat

Last weekend I attended a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Birmingham, Alabama. This meeting was designated as Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK).

As the event draws to a close the prompt for the following year’s competition is announced. In 2013 the illustrators received their information: “Look out P.J. it’s a……” The artist fills in the blank and completes an image to enter.

I thought that I would like to use a flying cat since I had 2 models sleeping in my studio.  With the main character being a cat, the word feline seemed to be an appropriate part of the sentence. With dictionary open on my computer I began to look up science terms. Well, why not work with alliteration as one does in children’s literature. Back to the science terms under the letter F.

“Look out P.J. it’s a flyby feline fission flux.” These are all science terms that could pertain to space.

The Steampunk look was on my mind so off I went. Alli was on the floor stretching beside my chair.

Steampunk Alli sketch.
Steampunk Alli sketch.

Now who would P.J. be? Hmmm, who would be afraid of a flying Steampunk cat? Steampunk mice of course.

Steampunk mice.
Steampunk mice.

Some positioning thoughts.

How do cats fly?
How do cats fly?
How do mice look afraid of flying cats?
How do mice look afraid of flying cats?

One of my favorite tools is the white gel pen. Probably one of the simplest materials to use. It is basically a white ball point pen that is opaque enough to write on paint. On a blue background it would be fun to emulate a blueprint. What could be drawn? Buildings, machines? Oh, flying machines of course.

Flying machine sketches.
Flying machine sketches.
Acrylic on 18" x 24" cold press 140lb. watercolor paper
Acrylic on
18″ x 24″ cold press 140lb. watercolor paper

Everybody and everything is in its place. However, it is looking very flat. I took a photo of the art and opened it in Photoshop. This piece was going to be submitted on line and 8″ x 10″ prints were going to be mailed so the actual painting would never be seen. Now P.J. joins the ranks of digital art.

With shadows and enhancements added digitally.
With shadows and enhancements added digitally.

It neither won nor placed, but I am happy with the outcome. In my quirky art world cats fly, mice shriek in horror, and flying machines frequent the skies. I may be a little too edgy for children’s books. Part of my mission in attending the conference was to see if I could find the right fit for my artwork in the illustration business. I have not found it yet, but “this too will be revealed.”

 

 

Those Cats

Last year Chad W. Beckerman, Creative Director at Abrams Books suggested I do more of these cat paintings for illustration so I thought I should begin to bring some of them to light.

You have seen this one…

Mice copyright ECR 2013
Mice
copyright ECR 2013

and this one….

Timmy Felt an Unsettling Presence
Timmy Felt an Unsettling Presence

Here is what I face every night…or maybe try not to face every night.

Sleep copyright ECR 2013
Sleep
copyright ECR 2013

Before the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators SpringMingle at the end of March I will share more of these.

 

 

Big Cats

For Christmas I wanted to give my daughter a painting of her cats, her big cats. She had wanted one for several years. The time was finally right. So I began with a large canvas, 30″ x 40″.

Step 1 for Big Cats
Step 1 for Big Cats

I painted the background with a yellow gold acrylic, just to get started. I sketched the cats in with a pencil then started using my oil paints.

Big Cats Step 2
Big Cats Step 2

The cats are the way I want them so it must be time to begin the background.

Big Cats Step 3
Big Cats Step 3

I began to tear paper and form what would represent an Oriental rug and feline pillows. This is a meditative process for me. Tearing and fitting and gluing. The piece presents itself and unfolds as I go.

Big Cats Step 4
Big Cats Step 4

The paper is on.

Mia and her Big Cats. copyright 2013
Mia and her Big Cats.
copyright 2013

The background colors have changed. The cats are touched up and given extra texture and color with a fan brush. A few toy mice and a piece of string are added to the composition.

Cats and More Cats

Several weeks ago I attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference here in Atlanta. One of the offerings was to have a portfolio review. I packed up photos of my paintings and recent work to show. A very nice gentleman from New York was there to share some of the mysteries of the publishing world and to look at countless images brought by hopeful artists.

Since I have not asked if it is okay to use his name I will only tell you that his publishing house is Abrams Books. He was so generous in time and kind words.

I showed him a reproduction of Timmy Felt an Unsettling Presence.

Timmy Felt an Unsettling Presence
Timmy Felt an Unsettling Presence

He encouraged me to work more in this style. More cat pictures was a suggestion.

Micecopyright ECR 2013
Mice
copyright ECR 2013

If you have a cat you probably also have a million of these little toy mice. You probably also step on them in the night in the dark or find them behind the bathroom door when you think you are alone.

Sleepcopyright ECR 2013
Sleep
copyright ECR 2013

If you have a cat you have probably also known they were sitting beside you in the dark staring at your face waiting for your eyes to open.

If you have read this blog for very long you also know I had a great deal of fun painting these pictures. That was what the wise man from Abrams Books was suggesting. Have fun, enjoy your work. Brilliant!