Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Fox Picture Book Progress

A while back I told you I was working on another picture book as part of my thesis for AAU.  Well, I thought you might like an update.  In the fall I worked on the storyboard, character development and created 3 "almost" finished illustrations.  This spring I am carrying on and working on two more illustrations...maybe three if I am ambitious enough:-)  I will present all of my work from The Swing, The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night and The 5 Hungry Mice during the summer to the Final Review Committee at AAU as part of my final assessment for my MFA.

Ok, but that's a few months from now.... for today I thought I'd take you through my process and what I have created so far for "The Fox".

First there was early character development...
These are a bunch of sketches exploring different shapes and styles of the fox.  These are not exhaustive, but give you a sense of exploration.  There is also the "old grey woman" in the story so I added her in too.  You can see a line up of the fox and the old grey woman at the bottom.

After working on character I started doing research into the environment that the fox lives in.  I decided to set the scene in rural England since the British are so famous for hunting foxes.  I thought it would make for quaint scenery that would fit nicely in a picture book and also would be fun to paint! I used the internet to assist me with this and created an "environment board".  You can see that below.

After environment I worked on the storyboard.  I envisioned this as a full 32 page picture book so I had a lot of frames to work with to create some interesting compositions.  I wanted to show the journey the fox had to make to find his supper, the excitement of the chase, and the comfort and safety of being back at his den with his family.  I created several storyboards and received some great feedback from my instructor at AAU.  Below is the storyboard as it is today, but I still see some areas for improvement, so it is by no means final.

Value studies and color studies followed...
I chose three images that I wanted to take to completion for my class work...ultimately I want to take the whole book to completion:-)  Which three would you chose?  It was a tough choice.  Some compositions were working better than others and I wanted to show a range in my compositions with the three that I chose.  I didn't want to chose three that were all basically the same.  I'll skip the value studies and just jump to the color studies of the three I decided to start with....

Then came the painting....that's the fun part!  All of the upfront work helps to make the painting process go so much easier!  I have my references, my character development, my environment reference, my storyboard sketches and color it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor and paint:-)

Below are what I am calling almost finished illustrations.  I still have a few small areas to work on and a few critiques from my instructor to address, so you will be seeing an update on these.  But to make this post complete I decided to include the finishes at the state they are right now.

So there it is!  What do you think?  Leave me a comment.  I have on my easel the next two that I am working on, so be on the look out for an update on them as well.  Hope you enjoyed:-)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Friday on Elmwood

I had the coolest experience that just goes to show you why it's so important to support our local retailers....

A girlfriend and I met for coffee this past Friday.  We decided to meet at Spot Coffee on Elmwood in Buffalo, NY so we could relax and do some window shopping afterwards.  As we were walking we spied this interesting looking shop.  It is called Thin Ice and it showcases a lot of local artists work. 

Here is how they describe themselves....
We support the local arts community in Buffalo, NY and surrounding areas by selling predominately locally handcrafted jewelry, pottery, glass, metal, fiber and wood creations.  Everything is handmade in AMERICA.  

I love that statement, and there was even a kitty sitting in the sunny window so we just had to go in!

There was wonderful work and very reasonable prices for handmade one of a kind art.  They also have a little studio where they hold weekly art classes in all kinds of mediums.  I really like this store and highly recommend that you stop in and visit.  But now for the surprise...

As we were browsing we found a book section, and you know I love picture books, so I had to stop and browse....when my eyes fell upon this!  A display of books from Buffalo Heritage Unlimited including my book The Swing!  How cool is that?  I was blown away.  First of all to see my book in a store was so cool, but then to think that the owner of Thin Ice supported me as an artist.  It was humbling and wonderful at the same time.

So if you want to support your local retailers and local artists please shop Thin Ice and stores like it!  They are a real gem in our community:) 

Thank you Thin Ice for your support of me!  :-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Doodles from a plane....

Sorry for the long delay in posting.  This winter has been rough and while I have been busy and productive, I have not had much time to post:-)  About two weeks ago I went to Las Vegas with a group of fashion students from the college where I teach to attend The MAGIC show.  It's the world's largest fashion show and it was incredible! Tons of inspiration in the fabrics, colors, trends, and displays.  The fashion girls were in heaven and loved every minute of it.  We were so busy, that despite me brining my sketch book, I never really got a chance to do any sketching till the plane ride home.  So here are a few doodles that reveal the success of our trip:-)

I called this one Teeanna's crown.  Teeanna is a student of mine who has the most beautiful hair and while we were at the show we counted that she averaged 12 compliments from strangers on her hair a day!  I just had to capture it while she was sitting in front of me.

Leaving Las Vegas on the plane, Lauren is fast asleep before we ever left the ground!  We kept those girls running the whole time we were there.  But the slight smile on her face while she was sleeping suggests to me that it was a good time:-)

Teeanna and Victoria, ever the conscious students, were working on their "homework" during the plan ride home.  I'm so proud of all the girls!  It was a very successful trip!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter Quote

Since we have been having sub-zero temperatures, and a lot of snow this winter, I thought I'd post a quote that is a nice reminder of why we love the season despite the hardship:)  The Robert Ingpen illustration above from The Wind in the Willows written by  Kenneth Grahame, is the image that always comes to mind when I read this: 

Winter is the time for comfort,
for good food and warmth, 
for the touch of a friendly hand
and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for home
- Edith Sitwell

Enjoy winter and look for every opportunity to be with family and friends in the warmth of home:)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Ok, so when you have to spend a week in meetings, your mind starts to wander...and then your pencil starts to wander...and the result is doodles!  Here are some doodles from this past week...trying to develop some new characters.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Another Letter from Father Christmas

In time for Christmas Eve here is another letter from J.R.R. Tolkien's book Letters from Father Christmas.  This is one of my favorites so I had to share.  That Great North Polar Bear is at it again....poor Father Christmas.  Enjoy and pass along for others to enjoy on this Christmas Eve:)

Cliff House, Top of the World, Near the North Pole
Monday December 20th 1926

My dear boys, 
I am more shaky than usual this year.  The North Polar Bear's fault!  It was the biggest bang in the world, and the most monstrous firework there ever has been.  It turned the North Pole BLACK and shook all the stars out of place, broke the moon into four - and the Man in it fell into my back garden.  He ate quite a lot of my Christmas chocolates before he said he felt better and climbed back to mend it and get the stars tidy.

Then I found out that the reindeer had broken loose.  They were running all over the country, breaking reins and ropes and tossing presents up in the air.  They were all packed up to start, you see - yes it only happened this morning: it was a sleigh load of chocolate things, which I always send to England early.  I hope yours are not badly damaged.

But isn't the North Polar Bear silly?  And he is't a bit sorry!  Of course he did it - you remember I had to move last year because of him?  The tap for tuning on the Rory Bory Aylis fireworks is still in the cellar of my old house.  The North Polar Bear knew he must never, never touch it.  I only let it off on special days like Christmas.  He says he thought it was cut off since we moved.

Anyway, he was nosing around the ruins this morning soon after breakfast (he hides things to eat there) and turned on all the Northern Lights for two years in one go.  You have never heard or seen anything like it.  I have tried to draw a picture of it; but I am too shaky to do it properly and you can't paint fizzing light can you?

I think the Polar Bear has spoilt the picture rather - of course he can't draw with those great fat paws 

Rude!  I can - and write without shaking.

by going and putting a bit of his own about me chasing the reindeer and him laughing.  He did laugh too.  So did I when I saw him trying to draw reindeer and inking his nice white paws. 

Father Christmas had to hurry away and leave me to finish.  He is old and gets worried when funny things happen.  You would have laughed too! I think it is good of me laughing.  It was a lovely firework.  The reindeer will run quick to England this year.  They are still frightened!...
I must go and help pack.  I don't know what Father Christmas would do without me.  He always forgets what a lot of packing I do for him...

The Snow Man is addressing our envelopes this year.  He is Father Christmas's gardner - but we don't get much but snowdrops and frost-ferns to grow here.  He always writes in white, just with his finger...

A merry Christmas to you from North Polar Bear

And love from Father Christmas to you all.


Merry Christmas from me too!