Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tree of life drawing

I finished my little tree of life drawing. I'm not sure how I feel about all the black. Next time I want to try something with deep indigo blue. 

Below are some pictures that I used for inspiration and reference. I hesitated posting them just now because they are amazing and I feared my work might suffer by contrast, but I really wanted to share them too, so I decided to just get over myself.

The tree design below is by English Arts and Crafts designer C.F.A. Voysey. I found it at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The next is by Maud and Miska Petersham, illustrators from the last century whom I really, really love. I wish I knew what book it's from. I found the image on The Lop Shop, which is devoted to all things lop-eared bunny (yes, its true).

This bracelet is by Art Nouveau designer Henry Vever, and can be seen on World's Luxury Guide

The Illustration Friday prompt this week was "slow."  I thought I had at least a little justification for posting this picture there. For one thing, it has a turtle in it. I also though it could be a symbol of the slowly maturing fruitfulness that can happen when we mindfully slow down. Not that I thought about that while I was doing it or feel like that is its essential meaning.

Happy Thanksgiving

This exquisitely decorated painting of a turkey was made in the early 1600s by court artist Ustad Mansur for the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Jahangir had commissioned Mansur to paint all kinds of exotic plants and animals being discovered by Europeans at that time. 

The Mughal empire covered most of modern day India and Pakistan.

I discovered this painting browsing the watercolor collections of  the Victoria and Albert Museum. I would so love to go there for real someday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A rainy day

It's not too cold and a steady rain is falling. I love rain. I love the sound and the faint, sweet smell of it. It gives me a sense of release, of relaxation and relief, as I feel the pleasure of the ground taking in the wet. I began to love rain during a drought the year I graduated from high school. It hurt to see all the green turn dry and tan. Tree leaves withered and fell before their time. After that, every good rainfall has given me relief that there will be no drought. Even when more rain falls than we need, more than the earth can hold, I secretly enjoy it, partly because I like the sensations of it, and partly because of a hoarding instinct, a feeling that we might need it later and it's good to bring that water table up.

One of my favorite children's books is a wordless book by Peter Spier called Rain. It's a story in many pictures of two children (they look like me and my brother when we were kids) on a rainy day. Of course you can get it on Amazon, though maybe you could also find it at an independent bookstore near you. I'm waiting for it to turn up at a thrift store, because I don't know what happened to my copy.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Coming along with a little tree of life

Every time I look at the ribbon on my banner, I want to make something else with a dark background, so now I am having obsessive fun with this little tree of life drawing. The black has no intentional symbolism. I just love the way color shows up against it.

I am also loving this hare.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"...and all the flowers looked up at Him, and all the stars looked down." (G.K. Chesterton)

It's cold outside and quiet this morning. It's not bitterly cold, but crisply cold with a sweet, clean smell. The sky is overcast and the wind is gentle with occasional gusts, stirring the dry brown leaves in a faint clatter on the ground. I know because I just put my head out the window. But now I am sitting on the floor with my back to the radiator, colored pencils around me, looking with mixed feelings at my Madonna and Child.

I have a wise friend, an artist and a teacher, who says that when a piece of art is finished but you wish you could change it, that just means you are still an artist. You have more ideas and you are not done making things. As I look at my little picture, improving it (or maybe just changing it) in my mind, I take those words to heart.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A new-to-me illustrator, Julie Paschkis

I am in love. I am high on an illustrator I just discovered today. Her name is Julie Paschkis. She's been around awhile doing children's books and other work, but I've been too busy enjoying the various golden ages of illustration to notice. What other wonders have I been missing?

Here is a link to her blog and another to her website. I recommend that you click on that blog link for a delightful post about why she doesn't use the computer to modify her work. In case you don't take my excellent advice, I am going to copy a poem that she included in her post so you can read it here. I am high from the poem too.

Lastly, here is a link to a video interview. She talks about her process and shows lots of wonderful images. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The beginning of a Madonna and Child

I restarted a drawing I've been thinking about for over a year.

 Last fall the image flashed into my mind as I thought about G, K. Chesterton's pretty poem, "A Christmas Carol," especially the last stanza:

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a Crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

(I posted the whole poem last Christmas Eve.)

I looked at lots of Madonnas last year and made a lot of sketches, but I never felt like I got a handle on what I wanted. Now I'm just going for it. I thought through the composition then went right to good paper so I wouldn't be overwhelmed with possibilities. There are a few things I'm not sure about--what kind of border to make and whether or not to hand-letter lines from the poem. (Hand lettering scares me.) I also don't think the Child's face is quite right, but I'm going to start adding color where I know what I'm doing.

As I was looking at Madonna and Child pictures I found this by Cicely Mary Barker, who is best known for her flower fairies. (I found it on Pinterest but it was linked back to Encore Editions where I couldn't actually find it.)