Wednesday, February 23, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #20: Sometimes it Works the First Time

Just so last week's post doesn't make watercolor painting sound too ominous, I should mention that there are times when it works the first time around. After a quick color study, this spread came together just as I had hoped it would. (Mama, Spot, Red and Buglette are picking aphids for dinner. Of course.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Illustration Friday: Layer

The more layers in your tutu, the better you are at ballet. (This is what I've been told by some very young and very opinionated ballerinas.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #19: You Cannot Bend Watercolor to Your Will

Admittedly, I learned this lesson long before I started on this project. Watercolor is very unforgiving. You can't go back in and "noodle around" with it until it does what you want. Thus, many of the paintings for this book were done multiple times. Yes, this may point to shortcoming(s) on my part, but ever since I heard Jon Muth's editor talk about his multiple takes on paintings, I feel pretty darn good about doing as many attempts as it takes. :)

Following is a case study of one spread from thumbnail to finished painting. I begin with quick thumbnails and character sketches. My initial crow was too friendly, so you'll see he becomes more intimidating as time goes on. There are a few color studies: I was playing around with tone and value. Should the crow be darker than the background or vice versa? I was very excited when I came up with the orange legs/feet. I think they are the perfect complement to the cool darkness in the rest of the painting. I think there were 2 or 3 more interim paintings before I arrived at the final piece (they must have been sacrificed to the 4-year old who likes to show me what I should have done with my paintings).


Friday, February 11, 2011

Illustration Friday: Sweater

Heater vent sweater (and heater vent hair)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #18: Some Things Really are in Your DNA

When I was at my childhood home recently, I had the chance to peruse the attic. My mom, for better or worse, has saved every piece of my artwork. I came across a drawing in a "book" that I made eons ago. I'm thinking I was 7 or 8? I had just finished working on a trapeze spread for Buglette (below). It really makes me believe that some images are just in our DNA. Perhaps it's time for me to take my trapeze lessons? :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #17: There are Still New Favorite Colors to be Found

Finding new favorite colors is one of life's greatest joys--especially when you've been painting for a while and think there are no new colors left to meet. I am always intrigued by watercolors and how each paint reacts uniquely to other pigments, to water, to drying, etc.

There are all kinds of philosophies about using watercolor paint. The one book that I go back to again and again is Transparent Watercolor Wheel. And may I just say, holy moly, I must not be the only person who feels that way. I just realized that the book is out of print and getting pretty darn expensive. (Not only did it teach me how to paint, it might pay for my retirement as well.)

For the watercolor buffs out there, I want to share a couple of my new favorite colors:
Manganese blue, Holbein
Mineral violet, Holbein
Raw umber, Winsor Newton

Speaking of favorites, I wanted to share a couple of fun tidbits:
1. I am the recipient of two beautiful hand made cards from my blogging friend Jane. She held a contest and I was a lucky winner. I can't wait to see them in person. Jane also makes stunning jewelry.
2. My friend Cindy Ann Ganaden featured yours truly on her blog this past week. Cindy is an amazing illustrator. Her sketchbook stories focus on artists' inspiration -- they are definitely worth a look.