Saturday, February 20, 2016

A wax rough, a pencil sketch

I spent much of my art time this week working on an unexpected freelance project--a wax model for a kitty charm. It looks blurry because it is still very much in the rough stage, which is the fun, optimistic stage. Most of the refining stage will be fun too, except for the face. That will be hard because though it is so small, I want that tiny face to have a sweet expression. I have a hard time making the tools say what I want at that scale.

 In the background is a sketch of my thirteen year old son, captured while we watched a video together. The likeness is pretty good, though not amazing. I'm not pushy enough to make my child models really sit still! I'm trying to do a lot of sketching like this, at odd moments. This is more developed than most of what I've been doing.

The video we were watching was called Are you talented enough by illustrator and teacher Jake Parker. I found it mildly interesting. My son told me he thought it was very interesting. I never would have known by the look on his face.

Friday, February 19, 2016


We become so accustomed to looking at art online or in books, that I think we forget the immediate strong presence of an original piece of  handmade fine art. When I won this linoleum print in a giveaway by Linda Hensley I was reminded.

My photography skill (or camera) is frustratingly limited in expressing the vibrant colors of the ink, colored pencil and paper. In real life the yellow is more glowing and the leaves and border are a vibrant green. There is a hint of violet in the colored pencil accents and the matting.

This is not a piece made to be touched, but I do love the somewhat chalky feel of the matte printing ink. I love the way the layer of ink looks substantial on the paper, a quality never to be attained in a digital print. It just doesn't show in the photos, either, sadly.  I think this photo, checkered with light and shadow releases more of the print's color than those taken in diffuse light.

 I love the flower's glowing heart, accentuated with pencils.

I've never made a linoleum print before, but I do carve things. The thought of sharp handheld tools carving out the lines of this picture is deeply satisfying to me. I especially love the heavier lines curling over the large petals. 

Thank you, Linda, for being generous with your beautiful work.

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.