Friday, July 31, 2009

More detail about the Fourth Question

As this is my favorite book project so far I am going to take the opportunity to show more about what made the storytelling part of the project so much fun. I used a visual device of inserting a circle within each spread to explain the action ahead or tell more of the story than what was on each page. Did I mention that this is a wordless book? It is meant to be used in a series as classroom aids in various language programs. Here is the circle where I describe a

conversation between the young man and
his poor aged mother as she urges him
to seek help by asking a question of
the wisest man in the kingdom.

In this circle,the young man is sitting on a rock beside a huge river that he cannot cross.
I put a tortoise next to him, it is symbol in Chinese art of wisdom and divining the future.
I enjoyed adding details to the art that were a result of my research into Chinese art history and the symbolic meanings of animals in art.
Here is a spread showing the palace of the wisest man in the kingdom, this is where the young man must gain entry to ask his questions. I used my own photos from my trip to China for this. I had seen the Forbidden City in Beijing and it is full of marble lions and dragons. Also there is the famous Nine Dragon Wall made of glazed ceramic tile where I got my idea for the bright blue and gold dragon that is a main character in this story.
The wisest man in the kingdom is styled after a painting of a Chinese Emperor. I forget now which dynasty, but this emperor looked so genial and wise in his real portrait.

As we end the story the young man has to travel all the way back the way he came, disappointed that he could not get the answer to his own question, but helping all the others that he promised, the dragon, the man with nine cats, and the woman with a beautiful but handicapped daughter. The dragon gives him a magic healing pearl, the man with cats gives him gold, and the beautiful daughter regains her voice and marries him. Here I tell the part about when the beautiful girl sees the young man and they fall in love. Notice the rabbits in the corner, they symbolize happy marriage and, of course fertility.
And now the last page, a spread with all the elements of a happy ending. The aged mother is enjoying prosperity with her grandchildren, the young man has a beautiful wife, they live in the same little house but it is fixed up nicely, and all is well, even the family pig has babies.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Fourth Question

This Chinese folktale storybook is number one of my top ten favorite illustration projects. I spent nine months working on it and put my entire personal self into the art. It was published by Childrens Press in Chicago, a wonderful company which got bought out and closed down by other mega companies in other cities. Now I don't know what happened to it and my books are out of print, and hard to find unless I search used booksellers on Amazon. My original art created with Prismacolor pencils on high quality rag board are lost to me. The company kept them, and I have no idea where to ask now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

perfect summer day

We are having a lovely string of perfect summer days here in Chicago land. I am inside the studio going through my website files however. This illustration here is one of my favorites and I think I will use it on my welcome page.
These are from a story I illustrated for Wild Animal Baby Magazine published by the venerable National Wildlife Federation. I really enjoy working with those folks.
The little girl is named Elena and her dog is named Guapo. (so cute)

In this particular story (of a series),they are visiting the beach and see whales. My favorite part of the art is on the last page where I show Guapo rolling in the sand and destroying the sand castles.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New website

It isn't done yet. Oh not nearly ready.
Woe is me. I read so many interesting blogs by other artists that my head is spinning.
I look at the format of the websites, admire the nice clean designs, read more advice on how to make nice clean designs for websites and my brain is overwhelmed.
I don't know how to write code, my artist brain isn't going to remember this great advice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Alternate Universes

Mine, is what this is about. I inhabit parallel worlds, several at a time.
I work as a professional illustrator, specializing in children's literature.
I also aspire to be a fine artist, whatever that means these days.
I really love painting and am constantly working at getting better at it.
Most of the entries in this blog are about my fine art efforts and thoughts.
And I have alternate identities in my personal life, I am a mother of four growing people, and the wife of a college professor. These worlds occasionally collide, create chaos, or...
inspire each other.
I have some new opportunities opening up to me... new worlds to inhabit. I have been hired as an art teacher, part-time (so I can paint on my off days!) at a private classical school. And I have been accepted into a juried show coming up in December. So the worlds must keep turning, and I have to finish off some of my big paintings as well as plan art history lessons.
I will keep you posted.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

wildflowers in Colorado

I spent the month of June in one of the most beautiful parts of Colorado, the Pikes Peak region.
This has been a good year for wildflowers, lots of rain and sunshine. A good flower summer in the mountains means you should expect the rain to come every afternoon, sometimes with hail and a black storm, followed by a rainbow and more bright sun until late in the day.
I found these bright purple and blue flowers growing wild in the front yard of my Mom and Dad's home high in the mountains. One month ago, my Dad died in his home while I was there and surrounded by my family. Every drawing I do these days is tinged with the sadness and thoughts I have of love and loss.
I wrote in my last posts about the difference between drawing from a photo or drawing from a live model. I realize now that my writing was much more about the death of my father than about the fading of a live flower that I was planning to paint.
Acrylic and colored pencils 14"x11" experimental, click on the image to see it larger

Monday, July 13, 2009

Life Drawing

Life Drawing was always my favorite class in art school. A great life drawing class is exhilarating, with the excitement of working next to others, from a model, only minutes to grab that pose, using all your skills of observation and working as fast as you can.
I think it is like singing on stage, you only have that moment to get it right.
I had such high hopes of producing lots of drawings and paintings from life this spring of my favorite flowers right at the moments of blooming. Irises,peonies,tulips and poppies, somehow they all bloomed and died and I didn't get a chance to draw any in the peak time. I took a lot of photographs when I realized that I was losing my moments. But I am not happy with working from photos.
I wonder if the farmer's market has some good fresh flowers? Time to change my plans and try some new places and faces?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

drawing from life or drawing from a photograph?

This cartoon is from today's Sunday Parade magazine, I found it in the Chicago Tribune. I wish to give this artist Dave Coverly all the credit for the humorous depiction of an artist at work.
In reality, sadly, we artists do have to work from photos and from images on our computer monitors.
There is no question about this, drawing from life is the far better option if you have it.
I have been working as an illustrator for many years now and nearly all of my assignments have not made it possible to work from life. I will get my friends and family to pose or act out the scenes to be illustrated. I will spend a lot of time on research at the library, on the internet , or at a history museum. I will artificially light a still life set up and work from that if need be.
But I much prefer the wonderful "real time" experience of drawing from a live model.
And the drawings that I have posted in this blog are (almost) all the time, real time sketches from the real moment in time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One foot in front of the other

I am trying to get back on my feet after a month away from home and the art studio. These little sketches of a friends' dogs were my first chance back at drawing from life which I love to do and found very therapeutic. Most of the time I don't think of art as therapy because I take it so seriously-it is hard Work!
I do however, consider a sweet dog to be therapy.
The reason I have been out of the studio is a difficult matter to share in a blog, but I will just say this, my father died last month from cancer. I was with him and my mother, helped with the hospice care, and tried to do all I could to help with the funeral. Now, we must take it one step at a time to continue our lives without him.