Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Big News: Blog Break

I am perched like Venus's Botticelli, on my clam shell ushering spring, and the cosmos. I am a creative vortex. I am pregnant.

I am taking a maternity leave from blogging to enjoy my time with this new little light. Fear not! I shall return to you all soon. Perhaps even before the break of winter, to usher in my own blog worthy spring.

A bientot and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Hello everyone:
It's raining today. . . will the orange and black celebration get runny and muddled into a swirl of murky brown? I think not! I got intensely crafty this Halloween. I will spare you most of my "witchiness."

And will however, share my leaf ghosts


and my magazine spiders

Happy Halloween to all!

A bientot.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Sketch Book

Some time ago, I blogged about Danny Gregory's extraordinary An Illustrated Life. I was inspired to have a more designed sketch book. Here are some recent excerpts from my sketch book:

As an artist, it seems impossible to be satisfied with what you do. But for once, I am pleased with the organic page design I created. I didn't really think about what I was doing while I made these sketches- which I think can be my biggest hurdle. I tend to over analyze to the point where I am creatively paralyzed! Phew! Now, I shall confess no more.

I am eager to incorporate this into my own work and develop art books/picture books in this method. Now, does anyone have any ideas how I should apply this style? Leave a comment!

A bientot!

Related Posts: http://writeinkpaint.blogspot.com/2012/04/sketcheroonies.html

Friday, September 27, 2013

Giant Dance Party Program

I created a program at my local library called Draw Out Loud where children are invited to hear a story then create an unconventional project based on the story I read.

Recently, I featured Betsy Bird's excellent and entertaining Giant Dance Party. After I read the story, we did some warm up exercises. I played music while the kids danced and when I paused the music,  all the kids froze into a pose. Then, one kid would hold their pose while the other kids ran to their pens and paper and sketched the posing kid. We had some good results:

Next, the kids traced their hands and feet, decorated them and trimmed out their colored hands and feet. They then used their cut outs to make up their own dances. Everyone created excellent posters, but I have to admit, the sideways tap dance was my favorite.

A bientot!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Character Design, Part 2

Last post, I introduced you to April Witherwell, a new character I created. Now that I have her 3 angles figured out, I thought I'd give her a little more zing.

I used the classic Disney flour sack animation exercise to get me out of my normal drawing routine. I love the "squash" and "stretch" terms that are used to add to "personality" to the flour sack. Fundamentally, though, it's about understanding how when you exaggerate one part of the anatomy what happens to the rest.

This is an excellent blog post about the topic of flour bag and how it is misinterpreted: http://tallgrassradiostudios.blogspot.com/2005/05/that-poor-misunderstood-sack-of-flour.html

With this knowledge, I went back to April and painted her in my style.

A bientot!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Character Design

I've been drawing and writing a story about a girl who goes to a costume party. My main character, April, took some shape over the last month.

I got a great tip on character design from Kelly Light's fabulous workshop during the NJ SCBWI conference in June. She talked about using horizontal guide lines to help "rotate your character" on the page.

Kelly reminded me also to practice drawing from life. I've been doing sheets of eyes, noses, mouths, eyebrows, ears and faces from magazines, books and of course, life. Here's my "profiles" page.

I challenge you to design all your characters with all their angles, not just their the best poses in mind. And if you want to know more about April- why she's dressed up as a witch, where's she's going, what gets in her way . . . well, that's another post! A bientot!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Making Anna Sweet

I grew up visiting my grandmother's house in Pennsylvania. Anna Baldovski was an incredibly willfull and strong woman. She was one of those stoic 1940s figures from the farmlands of the former Czech Republic who made a life in America. Anna was pragmatic and simple. She did everything herself: cleaned gutters, crocheted lace, pickled vegetable from her garden, etc... Above all, Anna was an incredible baker.

When the heat of this summer rolled around, I thought of those sweet pastries, cookies, cakes and "made from scratch things" that filled Anna's humble kitchen. So, I set myself a challenge and created my grandmother Anna's Cottage Cheese Rolls (recipe follows). These are little Slovak breakfast pastries which were/are held in high regard in our family. I swallowed my pride, did my best and produced something close to the soft, semi sweet pastry dough which held succulent golden raisins and sweet cottage cheese filling.

They were great to eat, sketch, paint and ink.

Here's my tribute, Anna Sweet, in the form of a character.  

Of course, I had my cannibal moment after this sketch and gobbled Anna Sweet. She's lovely and a warm welcome addition to a pastry story I am working on. More on that later! A bientot!

Recipe (courtesy of Slovak-American Cook Book, first published in 1892):
Slovak Cottage Cheese Rolls
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 packets of yeast
1 pound soft butter
5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 cup milk

2 16 oz cartons of cottage cheese, drained
1/2 box golden raisins
2 eggs
1 cup of granulated sugar (combine filling ingredients and blend well)

Sift dry ingredients. Mix butter and yeast and add to the mixture. Work together until well blended. Add yolks, whole egg and milk. Mix well. Chill dough overnight. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch squares. Place a teaspoon of filling on each square. Gather up the four corners and fold one over the other and pinch together. Place on ungreased baking sheet and allow to rise (about 1 hour). Brush with beaten egg yolk, mixed with one tablespoon of milk. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake at 350 F until golden brown (about 20 - 25 minutes). Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cicadas of Summer

Here's a page from my sketchbook.

The hum of the 17 year cicada has left our neighborhood. I can't help but be inspired by these creatures that remind me of perfect military machines. Their orange exoskeletons rise from roots and laser red eyes guide them after being underground for 17 years. Then, they plunge their hearts forward. They arch into their biggest back bend and literally split their old selves. As the remaining old shell drifts to the ground, these new born flying machines helicopter around; they riff on the waves of heat, these cicadas of summer.

Here's a video about them.

A bientot!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Easing into Summer

Tip toe
Toward lake waves
Anticipate summer swims
And gifts of unknown things
A bientot!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

I'm off to the NJ SCBWI conference. Business cards. Check. Portfolio. Check. Illustrators Showcase. Check. Here's my submission:

Wish me bonne chance and a bientot!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

C'est John Singer Sargent

Was I in Brooklyn today? I am sure my body was . . . as I wandered the Brooklyn Museum, taking in the John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925) watercolor show. Sargent's breadth of work sent me traveling across Europe. He painted portraits, quarries, mountains, boats, villas and churches from England to Spain to Italy to Greece to Syria, etc...

I was particularly struck by Sargent's varied palette using the following techniques:*
  • masterful use of white and tight cropping
White Ships, circa 1908

  • washed edges of paintings
A Tramp, circa 1904–6.

  • experimental wax resists to the paint
  • thick gouache, white zinc in the watercolor  
The Cashmere Shawl, circa 1911.

  • dark backgrounds allowing foregrounds to pop 
Villa di Marlia, Lucca: A Fountain, 1910.

Then, thanks to exhibit savvy, I found moments immersed in "Sargent's studio." The exhibition had mini screens next to select paintings showing videos of how Sargent would have painted the very painting next to it. I really had an appreciation for the craft and a better understanding of Sargent's varied techniques!

What a great show! Plus, I walked around a Farmer's Market - one whiff of the lavender, a glimpse of the Memorial Arch and I found myself off again . . . Wait? Was I Paris? Was I in Brooklyn? Sacré Bleu! A bientot!

The Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Arch, Brooklyn

*Brooklyn Museum's Creative Commons Page, grants the use of their work/photos which are posted.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Getting Ready for SCBWI Conference

I'm very excited to attend the upcoming SCBWI Conference in Princeton in a few weeks. I've been busy getting ready. The big thing I've been working on are my promotional cards. I made two versions and found a great printer, Printingforless, (they made me feel completely at ease- fast turn around and economic rates). I made sure the size and the specifications of the card met with the Conference requirements and also, made sure they were standard postcard size so that I can send my extras out to agents and publishers.

And here's the world exclusive . . . drum roll . . . please . . .

Which one do you like best?

Also, I'm busy getting my business cards polished, brushing up my portfolio and creating an illustration for the Illustrator's ShowCase (the theme is "Down the Rabbit Hole"). And funny enough, Oliver Jeffers used this expression during a discussion at the NYPL a few weeks ago. So, I have great inspiration and a picture of me with him (which I refuse to publish).

More to come on the upcoming conference. A bientot!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Paintings

Hello Everyone:

There is a thread of a story behind these images. . . But I'll keep up the intrigue and say these characters are trapped and have their roles to play.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Shapes Exercise

I quickly penciled this wonderful exercise from Matt Madden and Jessica Abel's newest publication. You can find Mastering Comics just about any where.

In a nutshell, the exercise is this:
1- start with a page full of 6 panels. Draw abstract shapes in each panel. Don't think about it too much.

2- Next, carve out a scene and a story from each panel. Use the abstract shapes you created to guide you.

3- Add details and voila!

A bientot!

*Yes, the narrative in the first two panels are from Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. To be specific, the song came from the collaborative genius of Roger Waters and David Gilmour. Why I started thinking of them while I did this, that's another post . . .

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dolphin Spice

I've done some more spice paintings and this time, I tried to do something slightly representational. And, instead of using spicy spices, I used up an old bottle of Chinese 5 spice mix. Which, with the cinnamon and everything, smelt wonderful.

If any one has any spices they'd like to donate to my cause, I would greatly appreciate it. Right now, my best source is the Indian market, which is a lovel visit, but really, quite a drive!

A bientot!

ps- to find out how I create spice paintings, go here: http://writeinkpaint.blogspot.com/2012/03/letting-loose.html