Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bon jour and Au revoir

It really isn't fair, and I wish you could all come with us. I am off for a week in Paris with my daughter and  her French language students. I have my sketchbook and plan to use it a lot!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday morning, while in church

While listening to the sermon I made this sketch in the margin of my copy of the Nicene Creed.
I am joining a group of artists working together on a special banner for the Easter Vigil service.
We are thinking about an icon-like image of the Resurrected Christ.  I will be posting about this as our work progresses.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

shepherd boy

Still part of the Moody magazine series but this was a story within the story. Again, my oldest son posed for this. Now that I look back on it, because he has grown-up and left our house for his own, what a sweet memory. All of my four children have left behind a precious part of themselves within the paintings and illustrations they helped me produce.

Friday, March 25, 2011

meeting face to face

I am including the edges of this painting because it just adds to the atmosphere and mood of the piece. The time-traveling Discovery kids sit with Jesus and the disciples and listen to parables. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

my salamander

Another chapter in the Moody monthly magazine series involved a science project that one of the boys makes. I think there was a moral dilemma involved where someone breaks his valued terrarium and he must struggle with forgiveness. I  had fun coming up with that terrarium image.
My oldest son and I constructed a model from a warehouse size mayonnaise bottle, he made the wooden base and posed for me. We wished we had a salamander too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

missing his grandfather

The story lines in this series didn't always involve time travel to the New Testament days.Yet it was important to be consistent with the children as I kept introducing the same characters in the illustrations. In this chapter, a boy has to attend a funeral for his grandfather.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jesus in the Temple

Jesus is righteously angry, upsets all the money-lender tables and sets all the sacrificial animals free.
Feel the chaos, noise, smells, and time-travel?

Monday, March 21, 2011

the father and the son

This is one of my favorite spots in a favorite story. This art appeared on the page after the opening spread. I love the part with the description of the prodigal son rushing into his father's arms, receiving unexpected, undeserved, love and grace.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

among the pigs with the prodigal son

I am going for the You-Are-There, really experiencing the action sort of feeling. I really like drawing pigs too. How fun it is to keep working with the same kid characters, developing the personalities too.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

climbing the tree

Every kid that attends Sunday School knows the story of the short man who was also a tax collector (not a popular guy anytime). This fellow wanted to see over the crowd that was following Jesus, so he climbed a tree to get a good look but not be conspicuous. Jesus knows he is up there anyway, and calls to him. I have my story kids climbing the tree as well, because of course, kids would like getting up in the tree. And kids understand about being short and wanting to get a good look from above the crowd.
Again, I was going for the more unusual vantage point. And I had to climb a tree, pose my kids, and take reference photos for this, which was tricky, but fun.

Friday, March 18, 2011

on the Sea of Galilee

The characters in my time travel story really get to experience it all in this chapter. They get wet and frightened too, until they see Jesus walking across the water and calming the storm.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

the discovery

The title for the series was "Discovery Kids".  This is the second spread showing the moment when the kids see into the time machine and find out where they are going. They follow Jesus around, listen to His sermon on the mount, and watch Him perform miracles.
I was influenced at this time by the illustrations of  Chris Van Allsburg. I wanted to use the strong shadows, interesting lighting, compositional angles, and viewpoints that I was learning from the work in his books.
If I could have a wish for this series, I wish that it would be published again, I thought the authors wrote a really interesting series, and I put my heart into the work.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moody Monthly Magazine

I had the opportunity of working on a series of children's stories for this magazine a few years ago. The plan at the time was to turn the final process into a children's book. (That did not happen.) There were two authors for the story who took turns sending me a manuscript every month. It was published in the magazine for two years so in all I did 22 full spread illustrations and 22 1/4 page spots for another page. It was really fun to get that manuscript in the mail (before email everything) and plot out my next visual with the recurring characters.
The premise for the story was about a group of children, all friends and neighbors, who went on adventures together. The unique part of the plot was what,where, how, and when they had these adventures. The fathers of these kids were computer geniuses, and had invented a time machine that could send people back to the times of the New Testament days. So, they were able to see and hear Jesus in real life, but the people in that place and time couldn't see them. I suppose the dads had already made time-travel trips of their own to make sure it was safe before they started sending the kids on trips.
The first spread I illustrated shows two of the children discovering the time machine set-up on a ping-pong table down in their own basement. It just looks like a very old computer and some really antique equipment and lots of wires. I made it all up, and those are my dusty basement stairs. The kids who modeled for me are my own and the next-door neighbor's.
I always thought it was a funny name for a magazine. I understand that it was founded on a very famous and honorable person, a Rev. Moody, (but...monthly and moody too?)  My parents subscribed to it when I was growing up so I have long appreciated the quality of the publishing. I understand it is no longer in circulation, like a lot of out-of-print publishing, sigh.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday March 15

Some acrylics, some watercolor technique, some colored pencils, and some oil pastel.  And a lot of just playing around with it all.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

playing around with bird ideas

Here is what I've been working on today. Two lovebirds sitting amidst cherry blossoms for a wedding theme.
The invitation typography will go in between the bird art. I am playing with the art in photoshop, these little tweaks and design ideas can go on all night.
Maybe the birds can be a different color? Maybe I should apply some interesting filter? How about a rice paper texture?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the Prodigal and the Father

Sometimes I make studies that are copies of the work of a famous artist, in this case, Rembrandt van Rijn. Copying a great work is a time-honored tradition for those who study art. By copying one can see the work  with more intelligence and feel, perhaps, what the intent might have been behind those brushstrokes.
I read a book a few years ago during this time of Lent, that was profoundly devotional and about Art. The title is "The Return of the Prodigal Son, A Story of Homecoming" by Henri J.M. Nouwen. (available on Amazon)
Henri Nouwen focuses the entire book on a painting by Rembrandt "Return of the Prodigal Son". This great masterpiece is on display in the The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. (What I would give to travel to see that museum.) 
Nouwen goes into great detail about the meaning of the parable, told by Jesus in the New Testament, and also about Rembrandt the artist. As I read this book, I was struck by the many separate parts of the painting that Nouwen was able to bring forth and make vividly real with his descriptions. For instance, Nouwen notices that the two hands of the Father are not alike. The right hand (left as we look at the picture) is quite feminine, and the left hand is masculine. I had to find a larger image than the one supplied with the book to get the impact. Did Rembrandt mean to picture the Father as both feminine and masculine? Also the prodigal son who has his face buried in the lap of his father is kind of bald, in fact he resembles a newborn baby. Maybe to show his absolute helplessness?
As a devotional practice I copied a part of the painting with just the hands and the son's face. It was very meaningful as I drew, and thought, while I was drawing about the words and meanings of this story.

Here is a small image of the real masterpiece by Rembrandt and also the cover of the book by Henri Nouwen.

The Return of the Prodigal Son, c. 1669 Rembrandt van Rijn

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

I have posted about this before, one of my favorite church services of the year is Ash Wednesday. I welcome the time of silence and contemplation. I even like the somber colors of Lent. 
Today in my copy of the Chicago Tribune, I found an essay by a columnist that I often enjoy, Mary Schmich.  The entire article can be found here,0,6109678.column .
She writes about "clearing out the closets of the soul". I think her article sums up my thoughts better than I can. She articulates how welcome self-restraint, self--denial, and self-reflectiveness can be in our culture of plentiful choice, large portions, and constant entertainment.