Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Angel Wings

My little angel has found a play mate.  This week on Illustration Friday, the theme is "Wing".  My original drawing had her lying on a ledge.  I thought tiny flowers would made it look more whimsical.  Thanks for stopping by to see her up close.  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to know what you think of them.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reevaluating My Motivation

Over the past several weeks I have been finding myself questioning all of this "pursuing a career" stuff.  I've never been a career minded person to begin with (having a job was a means to an end, that being supporting my family) so I just thought I was having a case of cold feet, experiencing the fear and uncertainty of a new venture.  Tonight, though, I am wondering if the motivation I have been using to keep me working has been bothering me because it grinds against the way I am made and what I believe.  Maybe my not being a "career person" is just who I am.

When I speak of a career person, I mean the idea that I am only doing this or that job because there is a carrot called money dangling in my face and I am really wanting that carrot.  This makes me uncomfortable spiritually.  I acknowledge that I need money, we all do, but if I claim faith in in God, do I not trust that he will provide for me, so striving with only avarice in my heart denies that faith.  But if I work at my job, what ever it might be with an eye on being a blessing to others and trust God to care for my physical needs, I work with a motivation that is more nourishing to my soul.

Creating art has been seen a as a soulful pursuit, not a money making scheme.  If artists made art and people fell over themselves to buy it, it would be seen as a money making scheme.  Having said that, I know there are a handful of artists, who are famous and adored by millions, whether visual artist, musicians or writers, and they are multi-millionairs, but they are a rarefied group.  What about the rest of us?  What about me?  I would like to make a living from my art, but I never have.  I have never really tried.  But I have also never made art with the idea of being a blessing.

What would happen if I did?

So maybe I need a New Year's Resolution for the end of January (it's never too late to make a resolution to change for the better).  I am resolving to change my focus and motivation.  I am resolving to make my priority to be and bring a blessing to those who experience my creations.  I did not make myself to be an artist.  These talents have just happened to me and the joy they give me has caused me to work at my skills.  I am going to work at being a blessing.

Jesus said if someone makes you walk a mile, walk two with them.  If someone takes your coat, give him your shirt too.  Why should I look at my talent as something to horde?  God has given me this gift without any strings attached.  He has given it to me freely to use how ever I please, even for my own gain.  What if I give my talent away as freely as it has been given to me?  I know, there are going be to those who say, NO!  you will cheapen it for the rest of us!  I understand and I don't want to do that, but the greatest artists, those who have made really amazing stuff that has come down to us through the ages made it out of love... love of making beauty, love of entertaining and teaching people, love of the divine.  Money is nice, but it is not everything.  And for those who believe that God is good and that he provides for even those who do not love him, there is no need to fear.  I know sounds Polly Annaish but I believe this.

I want to give to others.  I want to make people smile and to be encouraged.  I want to create beauty.  I want to make that which will point to the God who has made us and loves all of humanity.  I want to be his instrument.

(I want to add that I had just started reading a book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur - How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch when this hit me with such clarity.  I am going to read the rest of it, interested in following their advice, but with a different motive.  Thanks for the book, guys).

Thank you for reading my thoughts.  I am not really writing to persuade anyone but myself and you have a right to your opinion and your own motivations.  It is none of my business what your motive might be, but I am intrigued by your thoughts on the matter because I want to understand others.  So, please feel free to share your comments on this post. I appreciate that you stopped by to read it!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trying Out Hand Lettering and Gouache

 Sometimes trying a new medium can be intimidating, even if it is not a terrible messy one with lots of preparation involved.  But, even then, it can be hard to pick something up that is new.

sketch for Matthew 6:25 - 26 
sketches and lettering rough
 I decided to try two new things today.  Hand lettering and painting with gouache   I bought the gouache last year and finally decided to try it after looking at several picture books which used it in their illustrations.  I must have expected it to behave like water color.  It only slightly mimicked watercolor.  So it is a whole new thing to me and reminds me of when I was a kid using poster paints before I graduated to acrylics.  The worst thing is that I have lost my flexibility. When I took art classes in junior high and high school the teachers would come up with all these different projects with all kinds of different mediums.  Whether that is good or bad, I don't  know.  It could be argued that there should be more focus to allow for mastery of each kind.  At any rate, it was easy to try new things then.  Now, I feeling frustrated with my first tries, which is ridiculous but I feel it none the less.

The plan now is to keep at it.  Try it some more.  I wish I had more patience.  I want to have a finished piece RIGHT NOW!  Okay, take a breath!  Let it out.  There.  Okay, gotta calm down!  Slow down.

Thanks for taking a look at my sketches.  I like how my lettering came out, though my hand did tremble a bit, but I think that adds to the hand crafted quality.  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to know what you think.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Playing On the Beach

This week on Illustration Friday, "Ocean" is the theme.  Couldn't we all use a trip there?

I imagined my kids playing on the sand on a sunny beach.  I think this would make a nice series showing the children walking and playing on the beach and in the ocean.  I may explore that.

Scanning this piece was frustrating.  When I get the cash, I'm going to have to upgrade my scanner.  The colors are so pale in this scan, so I'm disappointed.  But I'm happy with the original!

Thanks for stopping by to check out my art.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Leaping From the Edge

This week's Illustration Friday theme is "edge".

Reggie stood at the edge of the pool.  The water looked deep.  Reggie felt scared.  Mommy was right there.  He took a deep breath.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my art work. I'm having fun getting back to graphite.  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to know what you think of it and if you have an suggestions!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Review of Unspoken by Henry Cole

It's been a long time since I have done a book review.  Not because I haven't been reading, I just haven't spent a lot of time with Children's picture books!  Which is too bad because they are usually easier to get through than a thick tome intended for adults!  A good children's picture book can be like an afternoon break spent in the art museum.

Henry Cole's Unspoken , published by Scholastic Press, tells a story with only pictures drawn softly in the gray tones of graphite.  His style reminded me of Brian Selznick's art in his books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck.  And like Selznick, Cole creates mood, drama and pace without the assistance of words.  Which is perfect because this story needs the viewer to understand how important silence can be to those seeking freedom.

A little girl cautiously hurries across the gold tone pages of the story.  With carefully drawn lines, Mr.Cole tells the story of this little girl's alarming discovery; a runaway slave is hiding in her family's barn under a pile of corn stalks.  No words are spoken by Mr. Cole, the little girl or the runaway, whom we only see as a eye peeking through the cornstalks.  Quietly the little girl makes an important choice between telling her family and the soldiers and bounty hunters who pass by or keeping the runaway's presence a secret so the stranger can continue on the dangerous journey to freedom.

Each illustration draws us into the story, letting us in on the secret and we accompany the girl on her errands of mercy which take her from house to barn and back again as she smuggles food, all the while, her secret stays locked tight behind her lips.  She is as silent as the wordless story, but what she does changes the life of  a mysterious stranger as well as her own.  And we have the privilege of witnessing what her family misses, the emergence of a little girl's courageous compassion which overcomes what the word around her says is right  to embrace higher laws and rights, the right of every human being to be free.

Mr. Cole's illustrations show the girl's emotions; her fear, her worry, her joy, her courage and her peace.  The drawings are able to show us how she even comes to identify with the fugitive, as she literally chooses to break the law to do what is right and good.  This is a touching story about being brave enough to do what is good, embracing a higher morality over the the morality of property.  And even though the girl says no words, the lesson she teaches speaks loudly and will make a wonderfully opportunity for parents and children to discuss the intrinsic value of humanity and the importance of standing up to injustice even if we do it quietly.

Visit Mr. Cole's website by clicking here.  You can also find Unspoken at Amazon or at your local library.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Baby to Love

It has been a few weeks since I posted a drawing for Illustration Friday.  This week's theme is "New".  New year, new life.  I thought I'd spend some time working in black and white and this seems like a good place to start.  I didn't expect to create a heart shape with the mother and child.  It just worked out that way!  But I like it.  It's charming.  I've seen necklace pendants that have a similar form.  I guess is just works!  Thanks for stopping by to check out my drawing.  Happy New Year!

A Brief Trip into Fine Art

Over the month of December I took time away from illustration to work on some gifts for family members. (And to just take a break.  Was starting to feel burned out!  Ridiculous I know!)  So rather than pieces that would accompany text and tell a story that way, I worked on some pieces that are more personal and work more as things of beauty.

The first is a portrait of my daughter and son reading a favorite story book.  I did this for my husband in acrylics.  I haven't done a painted portrait since college (20 years ago!) so I wasn't sure I could accomplish it.  I think it turned out okay.  It does look like them.  I used a photo as reference   The piece took about 20 hours to complete from sketches to finishing touches.  My kids told me  I didn't get the skin tones right.  I agree but I also know getting that color right is REALLY hard.  Crayola might have crayon or two that are close, but it is hard to create that color and make it look natural when our own skin tones are fluctuating and very translucent.  - little critics-

This is a drawing done in graphite.  I used a reference picture from the internet to get all the fine details of the harnesses and the structure of the mules faces and the shadows.  In the original photo they were standing father apart.  So to tighten the composition, I pulled their heads together and focused on that part of the animals.  I think it turned out pretty good.  I wish I would have spent more time on it.  I started it the day before I was going to give it as a gift to my dad.  I started at about 10 am the day before and finished it at 4 pm the following day, just an hour and 15 minutes before I was going to arrive at his home for Christmas dinner!  Cutting it too close there!  But for not having done a detailed pencil study in a while it turned out pretty good.  If you'd like to check out the original photo, click here.