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.
…and the chickens that look as though they are plucked and ready for the frying pan….
The colors of the outdoors and the imagined cutting garden of magazine photographs are so inviting.
Master of all He Surveys. Acrylic and mixed media, 16″ x 20″, $295.
Options for the third series are on my mind. Am I ready to have a conversation?
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.
Now who would P.J. be? Hmmm, who would be afraid of a flying Steampunk cat? Steampunk mice of course.
Some positioning thoughts.
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.
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.
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.”
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″.
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.
The cats are the way I want them so it must be time to begin the background.
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.
The paper is on.
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.
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.
He encouraged me to work more in this style. More cat pictures was a suggestion.
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.
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!