Friday, December 28, 2012

The Friendly Elk

This is our new addition on the chalkboard wall behind our dinning room table. Doesn't he look friendly?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Unto Us a Child is Born

This is a 20" by 26" chalkboard commission that I recently completed. Its really easy to make your own chalkboard with a quick trip to the hardware store. All you need is 8th or 16th inch masonite hardboard (cut to size) and a can of Rustoleum chalkboard spray. Make sure you spray your chalkboard in a well ventilated area.
I mask the edges with masking tape so that I can draw clean edges and so that afterward I have room to handle the piece without smearing it. I use Nupastels for full fledged illustrations, but if you are making a simple board for messages and lists you can use normal school chalk.
Since becoming a watercolor artist my approach to beginning an illustration has changed. Now I draw the entire image (like I would with pen) and then add the color (like I would add watercolor.) I make my lines with black and then go over all the lines with bright dark blue. I also use the bright dark blue for all my under shading. This ties the piece together nicely. When I complete a piece I have it framed behind glass with a little space between the board and glass. I have not found a fixitive that I like. I find that they dull the colors and make the illustration look grainy. 
This was a fun piece to do. I enjoyed giving Joseph, Mary and Jesus beautiful dark skin and brown eyes. I feel like I always see Bible accounts illustrated with white looking people. But, Jesus is from the middle east, so I wanted to be accurate.
Here is a look at the process:

O Holy Night,
the stars are brightly shinning!
It is the night, 
of our dear Savior's birth. 
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining,
'til He appeared and the soul felt it's worth. 
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Roof Tops

I am new to watercolor and find myself wanting to wander into other mediums. Perhaps another medium might feel more natural?

A year ago I had a conversation with my artist friend Sara, who is a phenomenal watercolor artist. She was telling me how she loves water, everything about water. Swimming, bathing, painting, the movement, the freedom etc. At the time I was trying to transition out of chalk and into watercolor. I remember telling her that I don't like water. I do not like to swim or shower. (I do shower though.) I don't like the movement, and it doesn't feel like freedom. It feels uncertain.

I love chalk. I love dirt. I love stability and thickness. I don't want to give up on watercolor, but I keep dreaming about think paint. Acrylic? Gouache? Oil? The possibilities are overwhelming! The nice thing about watercolor is that it is neat and tidy, and my paintings fit in a scanner.

This is an experimental watercolor. I tried rough coldpress paper instead of my normal smooth hotpress. I used gouache around the edges of the buildings just to see what it felt like to paint with (its gray though it looks greenish on the scan.) I was going to paint the entire background with the gouache, but stopped here, not sure what I should do.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

I do. He is my husband.

One morning, about 2 years ago, I was baking a batch of muffins and Casey was packing for a solo trip to Pella. On my way out the door I reminded him to pack lunch and dinner for his day trip. Later that night when we were both home I noticed that my entire batch of 12 muffins were missing! Knowing that we had only eaten two at breakfast, I inquired with Casey. He sheepishly unpacked the last muffin from his back pack. He had packed and eaten 9 muffins for lunch and dinner, plus the one he ate at breakfast! His excuse was that my muffins are as good as my kisses and that he wanted me with him all day. Awwww.... what can you say to that?

This is a silly painting to commemorate the day my husband became the muffin man. I still can't believe he ate 10 muffins. He must have shared them with birds and squirrels along the way.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

SCBWI Show at the Gilded Pear

The Gilded Pear Gallery in Cedar Rapids, IA presents the SCBWI illustrator's show! A dozen local illustrators have gathered to show their work through November 10th. You can see lovely illustrations from artists like Erin Taylor, Candace Camling and Dorothia Rohner. Thank you Suzy, for hosting such a great event, and to all those who dreamed up the idea and made it happen. Hope you enjoy the reception this evening!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wedding Tree

It has been a busy season! I haven't had much time for illustration, but have found other outlets for creativity painting on walls and completing different sorts of commissions.
I have been ordering, packaging and mailing prints to various places, which takes a bit of time, sold some paintings at a fall festival last weekend and am preparing for an illustrator's show in Cedar Rapids this weekend.

This is a wedding tree I finished last week for my cousin-in-law's wedding. Guests will sign this tree by leafing a fingerprint.... pun intended: the fingerprints will be the leaves on the tree!

Cheers to the happy couple : )

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Piece of Work Inc.

On Saturday Casey and I drove to Spirit Lake to move my art from the exhibition cove to a nice wall at A Piece of Work Inc.
They were kind enough to sell 13 of my prints during the month of August! I am signed on to stay through December. Thank you Ken and Haley and all the staff that have made my first gallery show a pleasure and a success!
...And a million thanks to Dave and Piper Hobbs (Get Framed) who put in hours on their day off cutting mats and delivering glass and foam-core! You guys are the best and make all of the detail prep a lot of fun.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It Rained the Whole Time!

My husband is so smart.
After looking at all of my work on gallery walls he said, "You know what would make your art even better? All of your animals are happy. You should do some that are sad or angry, with different emotions." What he said was true, so I got right to work. These animals are all sad, bored or cold because it has rained their entire vacation at Okoboji (Arnold's Park is in the background.)

I am looking forward to finishing this painting and exploring more emotions.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chalk Stock

 I participated in Chalk Stock again this year, hosted by A Piece of Work Inc. in Spirit Lake, IA. It was another great experience and I won first place, along with $300! What will I do with the prize money? Invest in more prints, of course : )
Several artists began to gather in the morning to begin their creations. All work had to be completed by 4:30 for judging. This year I choose to do a 4 by 4 square rather then the 4 by 8 size I did last year. I had a chance to breathe this time!
I noticed that after a year of practicing watercolor illustration I draw differently. Last year I completely rendered each section before moving on. This year I began with more line drawing, as you can see in the second picture.
Everyone's lovely work will last until the next rainfall!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Downhill Mice: Skiing in July!

This is a new original that will be for sale at A Piece of Work Inc. Original Art gallery in Spirit Lake, IA! A Piece of Work invited me to be their featured artist for the month of August. They are kind enough to host a reception for me August 3rd from 5:00 to 7:00pm during their First Friday event.
I am honored and looking forward to it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meadow to Grove

With summer camp and travel memories made, it is good to be back at the drawing board!

I have always wanted to illustrate "Meadow to Grove." This is one idea. I am anxious to start painting. The illustration is bigger than my scanner, so I am missing a little around the edges. 

A gallery in Spirit Lake, IA invited me to be their featured artist for the month of August, with a reception August 3rd! I am honored and thrilled! I will share more details on that later.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Treasure in a Field

Another completed commission. Now it is time to prepare for our summer camp season. See you all in July!

Completed Commission

This is a commission I finished recently. It was fun using chalk again. This piece is about 32" by 28"... I think that is right. I hope Greyson enjoys this in his nursery. Can you find the snail?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

For Ms. Ty King

An Outing for Foxes

Once Upon a Book

Wide Mouth Froggy

The Tortoise and the Hare

This is how we protect Tom from coyotes

Thursday, April 19, 2012

IF: Puzzled

I am terribly excited to attend my first SCBWI conference this weekend in Bettendorf, IA. On Friday I will attend a workshop for illustrators with my friend Candace. We were assigned a text to illustrate for the workshop. You can see her sketch here.

This is a new kind of illustration for me. I usually paint pictures that can be understood without text. But if someone views this illustration with out the text, I am sure they will be quite puzzled by the elephant falling from the snowy sky. Hopefully the "Magic Show" poster will help explain it!

Illustration assignment text:   
     Not far from the Apartments Polonaise, across the rooftops and through the darkness of the winter night, stood the Bliffendorf Opera House, and that evening upon its stage, a magician of advanced years and failing reputation performed the most astonishing magic of his career.   
     He intended to conjure a bouquet of lilies, but instead, the magician brought forth an elephant.   
     The elephant came crashing through the ceiling of the opera house amid a shower of plaster dust and roofing tiles and landed in the lap of a noblewoman, a certain Madam Bettine LaVaughn, to whom the magician had intended to present the bouquet.   
 —Exerpt from The Magician’s Elephant   
  by Kate DiCamillo


Sunday, April 8, 2012

IF: Vocal/Wide Mouth Froggy

Have you heard the story about the Wide Mouth Froggy? My husband sang me the song last night. His father used to sing it to him when he was a kid. I love it. The song starts, "I'm a wide mouth froggy, what do you feed your babies?" Do you know this one?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Improved Sketch: Greyson's Adventure

This is a commission for a little boy's nursery. I made a couple changes to my first sketch. The setting is different (though not set in stone) and there is more interaction between the characters. The turtle is pulling a little sailboat for the rabbit and has a picnic blanket and snacks tied to his shell. This is going to be a chalk piece. I am cutting and preparing the board tonight. Looking forward to starting!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring time: Rabbits abound

I have several projects underway, and they all involve rabbits!
I redrew a portion of "The Lost Coin" to use for my logo/art cards. I am looking forward to working on these with my talented friend Meg, the designer behind Moglea.

Last week my husband and I put a chalk board behind our dinning room table bench and I drew this rabbit jumping over our clock. It was fun to use chalk again, it feels so natural I don't even have to think!

A couple days later I received a chalk commission from a woman who saw my work in Shenandoah. She requested a chalk illustration of a rabbit and turtle planning a grand adventure. Here is the sketch:

After these projects and an illustration assignment for the SCBWI conference in April, I will be shutting down the studio (aka kitchen table) to prepare for our camp season. Just a couple more weeks to go!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

IF: Yield/Mustard Seed

It has been in the 70s all week! This is the time of year when I am torn between the garden and painting. While doing one, I am dreaming about the other. I hope they both give a high yield this year.

I have recently admired the work of Becky Kelly. I used her painting to select my color palette for this piece. As a result I feel like I have painted something fresh! I normally would have painted the sky with blues and the tree browns. It feels good to be painting outside my box.

The inside work, errands and painting are done. I can't wait to wake up in the morning, make some coffee and head outside!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Mustard Seed

Father Mole taught his little mole children, "The  kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."
Matthew 13:31-32
This is the first drawing I have done with out looking at any references. I am pretty proud of it! I hope to start painting it on Monday.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

IF: Intention/The Lost Coin

I am really excited about how this illustration turned out. It came with a lot of work and rework. Here are the first two attempts:

I got about half way painting this first one and found that I was having a hard time painting the light and shadows. I had made the lighting too extreme. The composition was really cluttered with everything happening on a linear plane.  The rejoicing friends also seemed disconnected from the retrieval of the coin.

 I worked on redrawing with Sara in her studio. She let me use her light box to move my animals around and rework the back ground. I liked it and began to go over my lines with pen and realized that my new pen was a lot thicker than my normal one. So I had to trash it. I started tracing again until Sara came over turned all my illustrations upside down and told me to just start completely over. Er!.....ok. I worked and worked and took about 3 days to redraw it. But I am so glad that I did! I feel like the piece is a lot stronger.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Lost Coin Revised

I had trouble painting my last "Lost Coin" illustration. I was able to identify 3 reasons for the difficulty: new watercolors that I am not used too, all of the activity was on the same plane, and the lighting set up was weird.
After much trial and error I have successfully redrawn my illustration. I changed the perspective and tried to create more interaction between the characters. The lighting will be softer too.
I have a hard time reworking my drawings because I can never imagine them being better than the first. Redrawing them really pushes me to think, problem solve and improve. It also forces me to swallow my pride and be teachable. Hard lessons, but worth it.
You will also notice that my lines are softer. I am going to try let my colors do the defining work my lines usually do. I need to paint this very carefully and thoughtfully.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Lost Coin

"Suppose a woman has 10 silver coins and loses one. 
Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house
and search carefully until she finds it?
And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors
together and says,
'Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin.'
In the same way, I tell you, 
there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels 
of God over one sinner who repents."
Luke 15:8-10

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trying my Hand at Designing

I submitted these to Minted's Children's Birthday Party Invitation Design Challenge. Designing is sooo different from illustrating. I think I am in over my head, but I enjoyed learning some of the basics. Thanks Meg!