Friday, February 12, 2016

Odds and ends, lots of links

I'm disappointed that I didn't get my Illustration Friday drawing done this week. I spent a lot of time on it, but it was just too big for me to finish in time. I thought maybe I'd show pictures of the work in progress, but I'm so tired right now, I just can't pull it off.  Maybe next week. I also want to take pictures of a print I won in a giveaway last spring or summer (I think) from the beautiful writer and artist Linda Hensley. It's a sunflower, which might cheer us all up this gray winter. (I'm telling you my goals to make them feel more real to me, which is helpful in my current foggy mood.)

Tonight I spent some time watching part of a video series on composition produced by The Society of Visual Storytelling.  My compositions, such as they are, have been completely intuitive. It felt really good to have some solid tips. I was also introduced to an illustrator new and very pleasing to me, Poly Bernatene. Here a few of his illustration, but I really recommend you click on the link to his site link to enjoy more, larger images.

I think this first picture was actually built like a little stage set and photographed. I love it. It reminds me of some drawings by my brother, Jamie Luhn. (Check him out!)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Some fairy sketches

Today I spent some time sketching the very good fairy Willamina, the subject of one of the three children picture book manuscripts I'm working on right now (along with a carved crucifix and a few other drawings.)  I really like working on lots of things at once. It feels very free and fun and I think it helps me approach each project with a fresh eye.

Willamina is a rather earnest and entirely well-meaning but somewhat codependent fairy. This first picture of her face is, I think, exactly how I want her to look. The trick is making a consistent face and body in a number of poses. My impulse is to sketch till I get the face I want, then clamp down and try to get the face right in other poses by drawing very carefully and tensely. That, predictably, does not work well. I'm going to try, instead, to make her face second nature by sketching her a lot. We'll see how that works.

Poor Willamina is feeling both sad and stubborn here, and tears are flying all over. She is wearing striped stockings and buttoned boots. About a hundred and fifty years ago she helped a shoemaker out of a bind and he showed his appreciation by making her a pair of tiny boots. Willamina doesn't walk or dance much and she is frugal and sentimental, so she still wears the same, very well made little boots. (That's bonus information not in the manuscript.)  

Putting on her boots.

The next one has almost the right face, but not quite. Why are her boots so pointy?

Still not the right face for her, but I like it as a face for someone else.

 This one is definitely more babyish than I want her to look, but I think its kind of cute.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Illustration Friday: Smart

I've never had this kind of smart baby. My four have been too impractical, too cautious or (in the case of my youngest) too well watched by bossy siblings. I have friends whose smart, adventurous, athletic babies have done this kind of scary thing--climbing nimbly out of cribs, unlocking doors to wander outside, even (when a very little bit older) climbing onto the roof of the house. I am content with my own more sedentary crew.

This baby is not in too much danger, though. You can see from the height of the birdbath that the window is not very far from the ground.

This drawing is actually the opening illustration for another story I've been working on while my bluebird story simmers on the back burner. (There are some dissonances in character and plot that I haven't been able to resolve to my liking. Perhaps I'm being persnickety, but leaving it alone for awhile should make that clear too.)

Speaking of persnickety, I'm bummed about the shadows from my wrinkled paper. I'm trying to figure out how to use Photoshop better and develop that professional polish, but this drawing has me stumped.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Angel on the head of a pin, number three

I struggled a lot with this one, and I am not very happy with it, but for right now its the best I can do without completely starting over (again), and there's no time for that.  I once heard artistic professionalism described as "Doing the best you can in the time that you have."  I've done that, but at the expense of my usual practice of sketching other stuff as a daily-ish exercise.  I wonder if my neglect of sketching tightened me up somehow and made it harder for me to get right what I wanted to get right on this piece. I might tackle this one again though, one of these days. (I think flamingo-colored wings would be great, a lighter green dress. more movement in the dress, the pose showing better through the dress and an adjusted pose. And a big, gleeful smile.)

When I started, I thought that Illustration Friday hadn't come up with a new prompt for the week, because it came so late in the morning, so I started a new angel spinning on a pin. (Last week's prompt was "spin".) When they put up the new prompt, "orbit," I decided that was close enough, and stuck with my idea. Of course, this week Illustration Friday has their new prompt up nice and early, so I missed the boat on getting this picture there. Oh well. It seems everything has been conspiring against me to get this done and posted on time.

I was inspired by these pictures. I love the look of dark, African skin next to leafy green. This one I found on Pinterest. It's supposedly from, who surely got it from somewhere else, but I can't find it there, nor can I get my computer to make a link.

The next is by Ruud van Empel and can be found in a article about his work at Huffington Post Arts and Culture.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Angel on the head of a pin, number two

About a year ago, in response to the Illustration Friday prompt "wobble," I sketched an angel trying to dance on the head of a pin. This week's prompt "spin" put me in mind of that little angel so I did a more developed drawing in color. She's gotten a lot better at it since last we saw her.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Illustration Friday: Tropical

I like illustrations with flowers that are large in proportion to the characters, so I was happy about this hibiscus with my little bluebirds.

I was trying to capture the cozy feeling of being inside with hot drinks on a snowy day. I didn't really figure out how to make good snow with my colored pencils, though I think the interior has some of the feeling of snowlight, that soft white light that diffuses everything when snow covers the ground and more snow is falling.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Some lovely paintings by Bradi Barth

A few days ago I discovered Belgian artist Bradi Barth (1922--2007), and I clicked through her site with joy and wonder. I felt I was meeting a long lost friend. Her paintings are mostly quiet, simple, feminine, consoling. I think some of her paintings might verge on kitsch if placed in a fine art context, but my frame of reference is more the gentler world of children's illustration, where they fit in just fine.

I share seventeen of her paintings here, more than I usually post, but I didn't want to leave out any of these, my favorites so far. To see more of her work and learn more about her, her site is here.