Friday, September 22, 2017

Camp Tadmor Map

Where do I begin? I learned a lot on this job.
I learned the difference between painting a picture for someone, and providing them with a powerful tool, and that those should be priced differently.

......and that I should always have MY DAD spell check. 

The director or Camp Tadmor contacted me about creating a map for them. Years ago I had whipped together a chalk map during a visit, but since then it had become outdated. They wanted something that they could print for guests, post around camp, sell in their coffee shop... etc. This would be my largest watercolor to date! 22x29! It had to be accurate, it had to offer directional help, everything had to be in the right spot!

The first thing I did was experiment drawing groups of trees, since that would be the majority of the map! I came up with a style and color scheme that I liked, got it approved and then started mixing large amounts of the colors so I wouldn't have to waste any time remixing and color matching later.

They gave me their 4 currents maps to work from (including my own.) As you can see, none of them coincide!

13 Cats

When I was little I would grab a stack of Zoo Book magazines and draw animals like a xerox machine. I tried it again, for fun! I made a couple rules: no sketching, no pencil, no erasers! Just the pure adrenaline of drawing with pen.

After years developing a style as a chalk artist, and then in watercolor, it was interesting to revert to my young way of drawing with precise detail. I had to remind my eye and hand how to think spatially, moving from tiny detail to tiny detail.


While drawing these cats I was awed by their unique nose, eye and ear shapes, as well as their face shapes, textures and markings.

One of the trickiest parts (that you don't really notice) is the whiskers. Drawing the negative space around them on the face, then the thin dashes that decide where they end. Thats where I would hold my breath!

and then..... ta da!

13 Cats

Top from left: Jaguar, Pallas's cat, puma,
Serval, lion, Caracal, Sand cat,
lynx, Margay, Tiger,
Black panther, Cheetah, Flat headed cat.

I submitted this to a Minted challenge, but alas, it didn't place. 
A couple days before I finished this piece our second issue of National Geographic arrived with an article called, 'Shadow Cats.' The text said, 'Shy and rarely seen, the world's small wildcats are experts at avoiding attention. Most remain little studied and get scant support. Eclipsed by their larger cousins, they deserve their day in the sun.'

I sure enjoyed studying their little faces!

If Giraffe was Real

This is a special piece that I did of Navine and all her buddies: Giraffe, Lamby, Whichy and of course Tom J Moose. Navine is instructing Giraffe to pick all the hard to reach mulberries. I painted this for Mimi, so there are special "Mimi" elements, like the doves her and Navine always listen too, and the moon that they always spot together in the day time sky. Navine is already so much bigger! But still loves her same buddies.

Starry Host

This was a commission I did a while back, maybe a year ago? I experimented doing a dark blue night sky rather than my usual purple.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Drawing from Brambly Hedge

Jill Barklem is one of my favorite illustrators and story tellers, published in 1980.

"The mice of Brambly Hedge live together in a close knit community making best use of what ever each season has to offer." Her illustrations and clever mouse innovations are brilliant.

In art school students "copy the masters" so I spent a couple available moments quick sketching from Jill's illustrations to learn some of her technique. I like the way she shades with cross-hatching before water coloring. After my last commission, I felt like this technique would be useful.

Here is a sketch from Jill Barklem's Sea Story. I am learning how to shade with quick cross hatching. I think it will add great depth to my watercolor illustrations. And I am finding that I really like the look of my loose and wild ones. So I can be less of a perfectionist and enjoy a lively scribble!

Mr Dusty Dogwood and miss Poppy Eyebright announce their engagement. Sketched from Jill Barklem's Summer Story. It took a couple tries to get a sketch I was happy with. Drawing on stacks of computer paper really takes away the pressure! No pencils or erasers allowed.

Another little sketch from Jill Barklem's Autumn Story. Learning to trust my hand with a pen is challenging. It's interesting how some days I totally trust my hand and make no mistakes, while other days I doubt my hand and wobble all over the place. I wonder what causes the difference?


Monday, August 28, 2017

Baby Animals

I painted these baby animals for my niece and nephews at Christmas time. The Winsome Wolf Pup, Keen Kit, Friendly Fawn and Obliging Owlet. It was fun to capture a bit of their personalities, and I promise I didn't plan this, but they all ended up with matching eye colors! It must be true that eyes are the window to the soul. I was most worried about the baby owl turning out, but he did! I love his disheveled, downy do.

Although Minted already has a very cute set of baby animals by Cass Loh, I think I am going to self launch them on my shop.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Toast/Jungle Dogs

I received this commission through Minted for the most "fame dog" of Instagram! After painting Toast, I saw her in a Reader's Digest magazine add and on billboards in Portland OR. Toast is a rescue dog who advocates pet adoption vs puppy mill operations and pet stores.

Toast's master commissioned me to paint her three dogs standing at her feet in the jungle. Toast dressed like fashionista Iris Apfel, "Underpants" dressed in Japanese street fashion, and "Muppet" dressed in a British sweater. She would be wearing her Japanese shoes and blue leopard print leggings.

I enjoyed the colors and foliage in this piece, but also realized that I could save a lot of time and add a lot of depth if I used cross-hatch shading and created more dimension with pen, rather than relying solely on watercolor for depth.  After this piece I spent time studying illustrations by Jill Barklem in Brambly Hedge. I would like to practice her technique.

You can see that my drawing is just line based. In future illustrations I would like to have a lot more depth at this stage. 

In addition to puppies, you can find a jaguar, eye eye, lizard, frog and snail in this illustration.