I was tempted by some more herbs - Bay Leaves and Oregano. So I did drawings of both. I am really enjoying doing these. I like the size (5" x 7"), and the soothing quality of the subject matter. And they smell nice!
Fresh Bay Leaves
I used Polychromo colored pencils on Fabriano Artistico paper for the whole series. I thought it was important to have them all look and feel the same.
Prints, and some of the originals, are available in my shop.
I'll be doing notecards too, but have hit a minor snag. The nice card stock I ordered won't go through my Epson printer - boo. I can't figure out why, since I have other card stock that's, to my eye and hand, the exact same weight, which goes through fine. It must be something in the finish. Whatever it is, the printer either refuses to take the paper and flashes lights and has a fit, or just spits it through un-printed, then prints the image on the sheet of cheap bond that's queued up behind it. Baah! So I will now have to make lemonade somehow out of this batch of lemons (250 sheets of it!), which I think may end up being hand made knitted cards or something. I'm sure I'll figure something out. Meanwhile, I have to find more of the paper I already have that the printer does like, which will go with the envelopes . . . oh, the trials and tribulations of being a 'do-it-yourself' art maker and etsy shop owner!
In happier news, I just found out that two of my pieces have been accepted into the UArt Open 2014 art show! Berry Tart, and Molasses Cookie will be going in to be framed tomorrow, so I can meet the final 'deliver the art' deadline. I'm pretty happy. This is a nice regional art show sponsored by University Art. The art will all be on display in their Redwood City store. Both of these pieces were done with colored pencils on paper.
And then, you know (or do you?) that I also do a bit of knitting, and have a little shop on etsy here.
I was excited to learn that someone who bought several pieces last week will be using them in a production of "Annie" in New York! (no, not on Broadway, but still)
These are some of the pieces that will be in the show:
There was a little bit of drama with the post office not getting them there when they were supposed to - I paid extra to get them there overnight, but they didn't, and whoever was in charge of the package didn't think it was important to scan in any tracking info for a whole day, so we were dying a little, wondering where everything went! But then they got there the next day, in time for the show, so phew.
I'm doing some more knitting, trying to get a few more things in the shop for the holidays. Now its actually starting to be real knitting weather (well, actually it was 103 here again this past weekend, but its September at least, and the cool crisp weather will be starting soon - I hope!)
I also have a 'Fall' illustration piece on the board that started out being done with watercolors, which may now be started over with colored pencils. Its funny - I've been doing so much colored pencil work that going back to painting feels awkward to me. I will of course share when its finished, whatever medium it ends up being done with.
Yes, I still love my colored pencils. But I've had the itch to work on a digital style, and have done it in fits and starts, but always seem to get sidetracked with something else. (If you are one of the three or so people who read this blog, you might remember me struggling valiantly with trying to do a 'digital colored pencil' style a while back, and how I kind of, well, let's just say, "got frustrated and put it aside".)
I thought I'd do a simpler technique, something that could work for educational and/or religious publishers, so I started sketching out a piece with Jesus and the children. (I did some first 'thinking sketches' for this idea here, which have changed completely.)
I work in Photoshop, in layers. Here is the first rough drawing of my idea, with a darker, slightly more finished sketch on top of a really super sketchy one. I laid it out with two possible areas for type (thinking like a 'book' or published piece, which would most likely have some words on there someplace) - the sky, top right; or the grass, bottom left.
I made quite a few adjustments and changes to the figures, and ended up with this finished line drawing, which I think is pretty cute. This, all by itself, could work as a black and white piece.
And with the line work darkened up, it could be a coloring book.
So then onto color! This first sample is like other digital work I've done. Its very simple, flat color. This style is really good for high volume work that needs to be done fast. You figure out your palette, then just start painting away, keeping each element, or figure, on a separate layer, so that you can make changes easily (there are always changes!).
And then, because I can't help myself, I started working on one that has more detail. (I showed this to someone who thought it was colored pencil, so I guess maybe I'm onto something here.)
I thought you might enjoy seeing how it looks in separate layers. Those of you who work digitally will yawn at this, but for the rest of you who have no idea how this works, you will be amazed! (or at least mildly entertained).
I start with the drawing layer. (see above)
Then, imagine sheets of clear glass, laid one on top of the other, over that original drawing. That's what working in layers in Photoshop is like. I 'color' on each layer, then at the end, flatten them all down together into one picture.
Here is the layer where I just painted in all the grass, and the trees in the background.
Then this was the fun part. I decided to do some texture, and drew little blades of grass. The dirt was originally on its own layer, but somewhere along the way (probably when I was getting too tired) I merged these two layers together. Oh well.
Here's a close up of what the grass blades look like. There are actually two layers - the first one was too light, so I drew them all again, darker.
I love this one. Just the skin! ewwwww.
And the trees. This was done with a few layers, then I mushed them together.
And so on. I may not actually finish this piece because as much as I love Jesus, I'm getting really tired of working on this one illustration of him. I hope he understands. I think I'll change it up and do some Romans, or Lazarus, or Noah.
Meanwhile, hello all you nice publishers who need religious art! I'm all enthused to illustrate your book of Bible stories for you! All 500 illustrations, spots and vignettes and full bleeds, Moses and the Red Sea, the Burning Bush, Jonah, temples, palm trees, the 12 apostles, sandals, beards, robes, Mary, Joseph, Egyptians, . . . Call me! (well, maybe email first.) firstname.lastname@example.org
All of these are 5" x7", done with Polychromo colored pencils on Fabriano Artistico paper.
Prints and some of the originals are in the etsy shop. (These images are of the originals, with the paper texture background. For the prints, I used Photoshop to clean up the backgrounds to pure white.)
Go here to hear them sing the song in Central Park.
That's all I can muster today. Robin Williams leaving us has knocked the wind out of my sails, completely. He lived in my old neighborhood in San Francisco, and was part of the fabric of everyone's lives there for years. I just can't believe he's gone.
8" x 10", every colored pencil under the sun, on Fabriano Artistico paper
This one was a CHALLENGE.
My client wanted an old, retro Jujyfruits box, which of course you can't buy anymore.
I was lucky enough to find this picture by googling (its amazing what people take pictures of, and put on the internet, isn't it?)
The new box, if you go shopping for these today, looks like this:
So, Photoshop to the rescue! I used Distort and a couple of other commands in the Transform palette to tweak the old box onto the new one, in the layout the client liked. I ended up with a very Frankenstein-y stitched together weird reference photo to work from!
After I had this worked out, I just started rendering. I had to tuck in the little side flap, and fix the shadows. I brightened it all up a bit, and had to invent just a bit of lighting to make the shadows work.
The client loved it, so I'm happy. I'm very glad to have this one finished!
Now its back to some other work I have on the board. I had a panic about Christmas being only a few months away the other night. I AM NOT READY. I'll be getting the midnight oil out to burn pretty soon. Meanwhile, its still very much Summer, with sun and bees and flies and lawn sprinklers and the A/C going strong. Hope you're enjoying your August, whatever its like where you live.
Its all done! Phew. I thought I'd never finish. Being sick is a drag (some kind of 'bug', requiring lots of naps and 'lie downs'). But I managed to pick at this in bits of being up and around and finally gone it done.
The paper is 11 x 17. I used Polychromos, Pablos, and Prismacolor colored pencils, on Fabriano Artistico Hot Press paper.
Not too much else to share. Its so #&* hot here, 100 or over for I've lost count how many days now. The cats have gone wild, insisting I keep the cat door open so they can roam around at night when it cools off. Charlie brought me a mouse, on the bed, at 3:00 am one night, which I did not appreciate.
Sigh. Cats. Summer. Maybe I should eat this tart - its still in the fridge.
Nothing finished to show today. I took reference for something that ended up being a disaster, so I had to scrap the idea (for now) until I can do a re-shoot and start again. I've also been feeling a little under the weather (partly thanks to a weird piece of fruit, and the rest is thanks to the heat, I'm sure) and haven't been as productive as I'd like. But I do have two very different things 'on the board', and thought I'd share some work in progress shots so you can see what's happening.
First up is a little berry tart. These scanned so different, when in fact the only thing that's been worked on more is the criss-cross dough on the top one. I'm saving the filling to the end, because its going to be so much fun to do - its such a gorgeous color. This is also planned to be one of my Architectural Food pieces, showing the top (this view here), side, and cross section views. If all goes according to plan. If they don't work out I can always cut them off and just have this nice round tart all by itself! So far this is all Prismacolors, on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.
Now, onto Jesus and the children. These are the first first first sketches, sitting with plain printer paper and a black ball point pen, with a cup of coffee, out on the porch.
Working out the girl hugging Jesus.
It seems like there would be a crippled child in the scene. And a bird.
Maybe a girl carrying her little baby brother or sister. Also thinking about hair styles. A braid? Just tied back somehow?
I love fat little baby hands, reaching.
I like the idea of one kid hugging Jesus' hand, and kind of standing on his foot. Jesus doesn't care if you stand on his foot! haha Also drew a little Down Syndrome boy, but then wasn't sure if that was too much. I want to show all kinds of kids, so that kids looking at the illustration will be able to relate.
A girl carrying her lamb. Or maybe he's a boy. Have to make sure the sandals don't look like flip flops!
This one looks like he's anointing someone. Need to work out what that arm's doing. Not sure if I want it to just be 'down', or like he's saying "hey, Jesus!".
Just walking. Getting the feet just right, especially from the back, is tricky.
A little boy and his . . . sister? Not sure how many of these kids will be in this illustration, but the one's that don't make it in will show up in another piece, somewhere, eventually.
Its fun to just imagine a scene like this, and what it was really like.
So that's what I'm up to. Hopefully next time I'll have a little more to share. Hope its cool where you are!
I'm really happy with how these little guys turned out. They were super fun to draw, and I loved using my Prismacolors again for a whole, entire illustration. (Thank you Bostitch Super Pro 6 pencil sharpener for making that possible!)
This guy is very proud to be first in line in the procession, and has been practicing his fife music a lot, making sure he was ready for today.
This guy lost his nice tricorn hat in a horse-and-wagon mishap just before he had to step into line here, but is trying to put on a brave face, and is very proud that he gets to be the one carrying the flag.
And this guy has been driving his family nuts, practicing the drums, but they all know its worth it when they see him marching and drumming so well with his friends.
I did this whole thing with colored pencils. And I managed to keep it pretty clean. But even so, it needed a little tweak with Photoshop at the end to look even better. So I thought I'd show you a little 'behind the scenes' look at how things magically get cleaned up before going to print.
This is how it looked straight from the scanner. Its a little 'dirty', and the scanner made a dark edge on the left. Its also a little crooked.
Then here it is cleaned up, and straightened out.
Here's a close up showing one little piece, with the background as it was, then cleaned up.
Can you see how grey the background looks on the left, and all the little 'bits of stuff'? That's the paper texture, and little flecks of pencil that, no matter how careful you are, deposit themselves on the paper and refuse to come off. So, with the help of the eraser tool in Photoshop, I painstakingly go around each figure and erase all of that out, leaving a nice clean background.
I also use the clone tool to carefully pick out any little stray flecks of something that may land on the actual image (here, there was a tiny grain of dark color on his nose).
When I'm working on a piece that I know is going to be printed, and make a little goof or stray mark, I find myself going "That's OK, I'll fix it with Photoshop", and keep going. But when you're doing something where the original art is IT, like a commissioned piece, you have to be really really careful, because there is no room for mistakes, and there is no fixing the final art with Photoshop! The piece has to be perfect (no pressure).
I meant to have this done by the 4th, but oh well. The idea only came to me a couple of days ago, so I drew it out, then started rendering, and of course 'life' happened in between there (nothing bad - just stuff). This is a self-promo piece, so it doesn't have a real deadline, so I guess its OK. I'll just be really really early for next year! heh
Anyway - you can see where I'm going with this I think. I'm going back to this style for my children's book work. I used to work like this a lot, then . . . well, I'll spare you a long boring essay about why I shifted gears and started doing more 'fine art' kind of work. The time I've spent refining my colored pencil style will definitely come in handy here, and has not been time wasted.
"Style" is a hard thing to describe. I call this my "round, shapey people" look. Everyone I draw looks very well fed, and I have a sort of architectural way of designing things. Everything fits together "just so". Its tight, and fully rendered, and there's not a hair out of place (unless its on purpose!).
The outfits these guys are wearing are kind of a mash-up of different Revolutionary War and 'fife and drum corps' uniforms. Most are some combination of red, white and blue, and some are fancier than others. I'm not doing powdered wigs, but will give them each their real hair (partly to get some more color in there).
Hope you all have a good 4th of July, if you're here in the States, and celebrate. We have hot dogs and potato salad and apple pie all ready to go. No fireworks though. They're illegal here, but of course that doesn't stop everyone else from doing them (much to my chagrin - they scare all the animals so). I feel very very thankful for the freedom to be able to draw and color pictures like this all day, for a living, and am so grateful for everyone who has fought for our collective freedoms as a nation to sit and color, and do everything else we do as free people!