Friday, December 11, 2009

Featured Illustrator

As part of a showcase of End of Year Celebrations, I am a featured illustrator at The beautiful Santa isn't mine, but you can see a piece of my work if you click "view gallery." There's a lovely review of Shante Keys and The New Year's Peas by Gail Piernas Davenport, which I illustrated for Albert Whitman. Thank you, PaperTigers! Let the End of Year Celebrations begin!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Welcome Virginia!

This is a card that I did recently. It was inspired by photos of the beautiful, brand new baby of a fellow illustrator. This is the final version with type added in Photoshop. Lots of colored pencil. This is one technique that I use. I hadn't used colored pencil for a long time. Most of what I do in color these days is painted in Alkyds. It was nice to get back to the pencils for this piece though. Below, you can see the steps to it's completion - in reverse order. I did greeting cards years ago. It was nice to get back to that too, with a little different, hopefully updated style. Updated, at least to the style that feels more like me these days - for this type of thing. Still experimenting with the ratio of paint to pencil though - as well as the type of paint.

Here's the underpainting. Light acrylic washes. I'm not good at blending acrylics, but they lay the groundwork for the next step - colored pencil. This is a bit of an experiment. Similar to the way I've worked in the distant past, but also a little different. Long technical story!

I suppose I should show the earliset versions of this sketch - much messier! That makes for a richer looking sketch, but mine tend to be so messy that they can be hard for anyone but me to read. This very clean version is what I print onto watercolor paper to produce the finish. I print at a low opacity so that nothing will show through on the final version. My earlier, messier sketch was also much more realistic. It looked like a Gerber baby. Not that there's anything wrong with that! It just felt way too realistic for me --- now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Norman Rockwell, FDR, Lincoln and the Cider House Rules

Wonder what all of the above could have in common? They were all part of a wonderful fall weekend we just had! We visited The Norman Rockwell Museum where I learned about a connection between Rockwell and FDR. We saw Chesterwood, the country home of Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial. And, we went to Ventfort, built by Sarah Morgan, sister of J.P. Morgan - where the exterior scenes for the movie The Cider House Rules were filmed.

The Norman Rockwell Museum is in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Rockwell lived for the last twenty five years of his life.
There's a very interesting article about Norman Rockwell in this month's Vanity Fair. Many thanks to R. Michael Palan who brought the article to my attention at the Illustrator's Party!

This is Rockwell's studio. It was the last of 20 that he had in his life. It was originally located in the town of Stockbridge. Towards the end of his life, Rockwell donated the studio to the museum. It was cut in two and moved, on two flatbed trucks, to the grounds of the museum.

Wonderful north light! We couldn't take photos inside the studio, but if you'd like a small peak, click here.

There's so much to say about the work of Norman Rockwell that I would hardly know where to begin! And, the Vanity Fair article mentioned above says a lot! So, I'll just focus on something that I learned about this past weekend - something that I found to be extremely moving. The poster above is called the Four Freedoms. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress, giving his historic "Four Freedoms" speech. At the time, Europe was under Nazi domination. Roosevelt gave the speech to convince Congress and the country of the necessity of war and to appeal to American's most profound beliefs. Rockwell was so inspired by the speech that he created these paintings to illustrate the "Four Freedoms" theme. The paintings became part of a massive, successful U.S. war bond drive.

Here is a portion of FDR's "Four Freedoms" speech.

And commentary about the paintings from the Norman Rockwell Museum.

This building is a "cottage" on the grounds of the museum. It was built by the original owners of the property and is now used for events, weddings, etc.

Sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell's youngest son is displayed on the grounds of the museum.

The grounds are 36 acres of parklike beauty.

Another shot from the grounds of the museum. Leaf peeping at it's best!

Later in the day, we strolled around the center of Stockbridge. This is an alleyway of shops off of the main street.
In front of the Red Lion Inn - Stockbridge.

Peace, Love and Chocolate? Works for me!

More fall splendor in Stockbridge!

Chesterwood. Also in Stockbridge, near the Norman Rockwell Museum, this is the country home of Daniel Chester French who is best known as the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

This statue of Lincoln is on the grounds of Chesterwood.

Ventfort in Lenox, Massachusetts. This was built in 1893 by Sarah Morgan, sister of J.P. Morgan. The exterior scenes of the Cider House Rules were filmed here.

continued.... a couple more photos in "older posts."

Shot from the porch of Ventfort. I love this photo! (I didn't take this one!)

There's no place like home! Well, this was on the grounds of our temporary home for this lovely weekend! We stayed in Lenox.

A couple more shots of the grounds around our inn. It was hard to leave!

Happy Trails! On our last day, we had a hike in the woods. Then, it was time to head home. A slow meandering drive. Great weekend! Fall in New England!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden

Last Friday, we visited The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield. Massachusetts. Theodore Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield in 1904. Sculptor, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, who is also Geisel's step daughter, created the sculpture for the Springfield Library and Museums Association, located in the heart of the city. Springfield is in Western Massachusetts on the Connecticut River.

This was really fun!

The Cat in the Hat.

The Grinch and his dog Max.

Horton the Elephant.

I think I know how she feels.

Thudwink the Big-Hearted Moose

Thing one and Thing two.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coquille Board

I've been doing some pieces with Coquille Board lately. The piece above is a detail of a work in progress. Coquille Board is a type of board (paper) that has a very unique, textured surface. One big advantage of Coquille Board is that it makes pencil rendering go much faster and also lends itself to strong, rich, dark areas without a lot of layers. The surface is a very uniform pepply texture. I had tried Coquille Board years ago but was using colored pencil. I found that I preferred other papers for color - papers that I could apply an underpainting to. It wasn't until fairly recently that I became interested in building a few portfolio pieces in black and white. Not just black line, as I'd done a lot of in the past, but more atmospheric rendered pieces. My pal Judith Moffatt suggested Coquille Board. I'd actually sort of forgotten about it! But, immediately decided that I should give it another try!

Here's a swatch to give you a closer look at the texture. When I decided I wanted to give Coquille Board another try, I discovered that it was a bit hard to find. I now buy it from Hyatt's. They are really nice, they ship very quickly and --- they have a store in the town where I grew up, Clarence, NY! Glad to give them my business.
This little swatch was done with an ebony pencil, but most of the time, I have been using Faber-Castell pencils.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This is a finished piece on Coquille Board. I wanted to challenge myself with something fairly complex and with a strong light source.
After I finish a few pieces like this, my next challenge will be to do something simple! And to try and get looser with my color work. Trying to stretch in both directions, but in both cases trying to stay focused on atmosphere. (amongst other things!)