Thursday, July 30, 2015

Three little bears in a dumpster!

Have you seen this adorable video?  Three little bears are rescued from being trapped in a dumpster while the mommy bear watches.  Thank you to those kind people who rescued those little bears!

Well, I thought about the person who discovered that the little bears were trapped in the dumpster and what they must have seen when they looked is a quick little painting of what I thought it might have looked like:)

I had fun imagining this scenario and wished I could have peeked in and seen those bears!  What do you think?  Did I capture what they might have seen?  Maybe there is a picture book story here...I'd love to hear what you think:)  Feel free to comment below. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Favorite Illustrator - Garth Williams

So it's time for me to tell you about another favorite illustrator of mine, and probably yours.  When I think of Garth Williams I think of my childhood and reading his books in the tiny bedroom of my childhood home.  I read every single one of the "Rescuers" books multiple times.  I read them for the illustrations because I loved Garth Williams pen and ink drawings.  I would copy those drawings over and over again.  Bernard and Bianca were brought to life for me by those drawings.  And their adventures took me to new places.  I knew when I read a description of a predicament that they found themselves in, Garth Williams' drawing would portray it perfectly.  I remember a description of Bernard and Bianca escaping the Black Castle through a small opening that lead to a gushing stream outside.  It was a detailed description, but I couldn't quite picture it in my mind.  Then I turned the page and the illustration showed it perfectly.  It made my enjoyment of the book complete.  I remember staring at the picture below and being amazed at how he crafted the details of a little girls face with just hatches of line.  I think it was the first time I came to appreciate the power of value.

And of course my favorite book of his was "The Cricket In Times Square".  The little world that he created for Tucker the mouse, Harry the cat, and Chester the cricket in the subway enthralled me.  Tiny matchbox beds and thimble tables.  I loved every drawing! I often copied the drawings trying to get his pen and ink style.  It was my exposure to Garth Williams' drawings that made me fall in love with drawing as a child and made me want to be an artist.  I loved that he created these magical worlds where adorable creatures lived and had these memorable adventures.  His work touched both the artist and the adventurer in me and has influenced me to this day.

Garth Williams was born in New York City to artist parents.  Like many great artists he studied art in Europe when his parents moved to England.  He studied architecture and then switched to painting and sculpture.  He graduated from the Royal Academy of Art and served briefly as the headmaster of the Luton Art School outside of London before resigning to immerse himself in art.  When he returned to the United States, he tried to become a cartoonist for The New Yorker, but his work was rejected because it was considered too wild and European.  Isn't that funny!  His work was considered too wild?  I wonder what he showed them!

He eventually found an opportunity at Haper and Row when a manuscript for a children's book came in.  It was E.B. White's "Stuart Little".  I guess he wasn't too wild for children:)  That was the beginning of a long and successful career as a children's book illustrator for Garth Williams.  And while his illustrations were the reason for the success of such books as "Stuart Little," "Charlotte's Web," and "Cricket In Times Square" at the time of their success he was often not credited.

For me, almost all of Garth Williams work sits on my bookshelf.  He is frequently a "go to" resource for me when I want inspiration.  He captures a sense of innocence and wonderment in his illustrations that I want to develop in my own work.  He has not been with us since 1996 when he passed away, but his art has left a permanent mark on me and maybe on you too.

What is your fondest memory of Garth Williams work?  Leave me a comment below.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Keuka Art Festival - A successful weekend

What a beautiful weekend I had at the Keuka Arts Festival in Penn Yan, NY!  Even though we had to set up in a rain storm, and we had to tear down in another rain storm that actually lead to flash flooding....during the festival itself we had beautiful sunny skies and wonderful turn out!  Check out the beautiful scenery I had all weekend!

That's my tent with the dog painting on the outside:)

I brought with me my new "The Swing" picture book, some new prints from the book and from my other picture book artwork, and some new paintings.  Here's a look...

The Swing was a big hit at the show!  Not sure if it was the candy that I lured the children in with (heeheehee) or the artwork itself!  But I was so pleased with the many parents who stopped to look at the book.  The older parents and grandparents who were familiar with the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, enjoyed my interpretation of his words, while the younger parents who were not familiar with the poem, seemed charmed by it and my "reintroducing" the poem to a new generation of children!  They also really appreciated that I am continuing to contributing 50% of the proceeds of the sale of the book to the organization Feed My Starving Children.  It's such a great cause and I love that I can do something positive with my art.

Sales of the book were good and many people were excited to see that I am working on a new picture book as well.  They said they would come back next year to see it so count on me being at the Keuka Arts Festival next year.  I also picked up several new little fans, two of them are pictured below.  I love the little girl with her feet in the air:)  

All in all a great weekend!  Thank you Keuka Arts Festival organizers.  Can't wait for my next show!  I'll be in East Aurora at the East Aurora Art Society Fine Arts Festival on June 27 - 28, and then in Rochester at the Cornhill Arts Festival on July 11-12, 2015.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Keuka Arts Festival Preparation

Summer kicks off art festival season!  I am participating in four fabulous art shows this summer to promote my children's picture book The Swing and to sell my art.  The first one is this weekend - the Keuka Arts Festival in Penn Yan, NY.  This is a wonderful festival in the heart of the Finger Lakes along an outlet of Keuka lake.

So this week I have been preparing for the festival.  I ordered prints of my artwork from The Swing and also from my "as of yet, not released" Five Hungry Mice picture book.  They are all signed and numbered and cellophane wrapped.  I have also been putting the finishing touches on a few new paintings that I will debut at the art show.  A series of little girl dresses and some sweet ducks.  Here are some sneak peaks of what I will be bringing...

Boxes of artwork are piling up inside my studio...

And piles of tents, walls, and supplies are piling up in my garage....

I will be promoting my book The Swing as well as selling prints that I have made of my favorite illustrations...

Plus some new work!

My new studio is working out great for preparing for the art shows.  There is room for me to lay my work out and curate it.  I also have space for two easels, so I have two paintings in process on them as well as one on my desk.  My husband just made me a new work bench that is nice and high so I can stand at it and cut mat boards or fix hangers to the back of my paintings without having to bend over to the floor, like I was doing before:)  So happy with my new space!  This show season is going to be great!  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Season of Goodbyes

This spring has been one of tremendous change for me and in hind sight I realize that I am going through a "season of goodbyes".  Some are very sad and others are more hopeful, but sad or hopeful I have found that they have left me with a deep feeling of sadness and melancholy.

It started with the passing of my father on April 13, 2015.  He lost his battle to cancer after many valiant years of fighting it.  My mother, sister and I were with him in the end, and although we knew he would pass from this retched disease, it was still a difficult goodbye.  How do you summarize the impact someone like a father has on a life?  I can't, but he has been on my mind every day since.  When I returned home I had to say goodbye to my Golden Retriever Buddy.  Buddy, a good natured and playful 7 year old dog, was involved in an incident where he could not keep his teeth to himself and bit a young boy who had come over to our house to play with my son.  While the family of the boy said we did not need to get rid of Buddy, for the safety of all children who would come by to play at our house with my children, we had to give Buddy away.  I miss his greetings every time I pull into my driveway.  During this same time frame I announced that I had accepted a new job teaching at St. Bonaventure University and would be saying goodbye at graduation to all my friends at Villa Maria College where I was currently teaching.  My new opportunity at St. Bonaventure is a wonderful one and I am so excited to be joint a great team of educators who are dedicated to their student's learning.  But my great opportunity comes with having to say goodbye to students with whom I had developed wonderful relationships.   I also had to say goodbye to faculty whom I have taught with for the past 10 years, and hardest of all I had to say goodbye to my best friend, confidant, and colleague Mollie.  She and I started together at Villa and have worked side-by-side every day since.  We weathered ups and downs at the college and cheered each other on.  We improved our program dramatically and just when it looks like we will reap the rewards of our hard work, I have to go and leave.  I'm sorry Mollie:(

So with all of these feelings and thoughts rattling around inside of me I decided to do a painting to express my sadness.  I was inspired by Matt Dixon's robot series which I found on Pinterest.
He shows such emotion in each robot and I love emotive paintings.  I have painted robots before so I thought I would try my had at a sad robot.  Because AAU has taught me so well, I knew that I could not attempt this painting without some sort of reference, and not wanting to copy other's work I decided to make my own robot and pose him for the painting.  This way I could control the pose, the light, and make sure I was accurate with the details and perspective.  You have seen me riffling through my studio for parts.  Then I had to make a trip to Home Depot for paint for the house so I took my son with me and put him on a mission to find robot parts!  We were laughing down every aisle but eventually we found enough pieces between Home Depot and my studio to create my "mini-robot".  Here he is below...  

I decided to paint him in oil on board because it creates a "chalky" look that I like.  I wanted to make him sad but still keep him child-like so I made sure to have some "brighter" colors in the painting, but not too bright.  Now that he is done he needs a name!  Any suggestions?  Comment below with your ideas:)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Signings Galore!

Sorry I have been out of touch for a while....It has been quite busy here with many good things happening.  My publisher has secured several wonderful opportunities for me to attend book signings and tell people the story of how "The Swing" came to be.  So I have been spending my spare time preparing for the signings or attending them:)  I have another one tonight so I have been gathering books, book marks, stickers, coloring pages, and all the fun stuff that kids love!  I love to make a wonderfully inviting environment that just draws the kids in.  I'm not sure if I do it for the kids or for the kid in me, but either way I love it and enjoy adding something special every time I attend a signing:) Below is the signing I'm attending tonight.  If you can make it out I'd love to see you!

Here are some pictures from the other signings I have attended lately.  I was at the Small Press Book Fair at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, the Trimania Arts, Music and Mischief event, and Knox Farm Art Fest.  All great events where I met great people and had a blast sharing my book.  I'm definitely doing them all again next year!  We are so lucky to have so many great local events that support local artists!

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:-)