Saturday, December 26, 2009

Illustration Friday: Pioneer

I was talking to one of the art teachers at my high school, and she was telling me that one of the things she has her advanced art students do in their sketchbooks is to copy pictures of various masters, and that was an idea that really resonated with me, since I want to develop enough skills to someday be able to do black and white pen and ink illustrations for middle grade novels, and I have a LONG way to go. Another thing I need to work on is narrative in pictures. So I decided that rather than just "study" pictures of illustrators I admire, to actually "copy" certain aspects of some of their pictures. I teach creative writing, and one of the things we do with poetry is called "copy-changing", where you copy the structure of a poem, and then change the content to make it your own. It's an excellent exercise for learning how to put poems together. And since I want to learn more about putting pictures together, this seemed like a good idea.

So here's my picture: The earliest pioneers were the heroes that myths are made of...

The little color picture is the original Arthur Rackham illustration...

Friday, December 18, 2009


I've been reading Jos Smith's wonderful book, The Pen and Ink Book. The whole third section of it is about drawing strategies--questions you have to answer before you start drawing if you want your drawing to have any kind of unity. I've read this section before, but somehow this time it made a whole lot more sense. I stopped on the #4 question--What kind of space do you want your drawing to have? --and really studied his discussion and examples, because I think that that is something I've been confused about for at least twenty five years of my life. I make drawings or paintings, and I'm not really sure whether I'm wnting some kind of deep space or some kind of flatter, more decorative space. I've had instructors tell me that something or another isn't working, but no one really explained that. I think I'm on the verge, finally, of an answer, which will help my process enormously.

This is a tiny tiny drawing, but probably here it looks the same size as the bigger ones.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Accordion Guy #9

Okay, so this isn't REALLY a "hatching" picture--I do have a few ideas, but I really need to hatch a plan for making a little extra money. Having the kid in college is stretching the budget beyond all reason.

I tried selling cards today at the Holiday Farmer's Market, and though lots of people looked at them and said how much they liked them, hardly anyone bought them. Maybe I was asking too much , or maybe it just wasn't the right thing for this event. Who knows. I really like them, though.

I made the sketch for this drawing a couple weeks ago, and started rendering it in ball point pen yesterday afternoon, and finished yesterday evening at a friend's house with a bunch of other people playing music. When they asked why I wasn't playing , I had to say that it was because I was so much enjoying seeing if I could make this drawing work out...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Selling Stuff?

I've never done this before, and it doesn't feel right, but I'm making about a dozen of my drawings into cards.  I have no idea how much to ask, but I need to figure it out by Saturday for the Holiday Farmers' Market.  Hopefully I can sell enough to cover expenses.  Hopefully I can sell enough to help pay for the (minimal this year) gift buying.  Ideally I could sell enough to contribute to my son's college fund.  It's really tight.

I never thought I 'd be someone who sold art, and I guess if no one buys anything, I will still won't be, but I never thought I'd try.  It's an odd feeling.  The people who have seen them so far really really like them, and I must admit that I do too....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sun Portrait #1

I hated the picture from earlier today so much that I had to make another one that I didn't hate. Of course I should have been grading the sophomore response journals that I collected a week ago, but alas...I didn't.

This doesn't look much like the person in my reference photo, but I took it this week for the sole purpose of using it as a reference photo, and I'm not entirely displeased.

Illustration Friday: Entwined

As I was looking through stacks of old photos, thinking I needed to find a box for them, since I'd given my old box to my son to take with him to college, I can across a photo of that son with a bunch of his classmates in fifth grade, after going to Star Base, or whatever it was called, the program where they go and be introduced to making rockets and stuff like that.

These boys are all entwined...happy, silly, together after three days of this intensive program. As together as they are in this moment, they have no idea that they will all shoot off in completely different directions.

Of these boys, one of them dropped out of high school and was still smoking a lot of pot and living in his mom's house, one of them became a high school football star (he played violin in 6th grade and a whole bunch of girls chose it too just so they could do orchestra with him, and then he quit the next year) and may perhaps being playing football at some small university somewhere (he's nowhere near big enough to play at KU), one of them ended up in remedial classes in high school, and may still be there for a second senior year, one of them shot and killed someone in a drug-related robbery and is going to spend the rest of his life in jail, one of them nearly dropped out of high school when his older brother committed suicide, but was saved by art classes, one of them is a very very very nice boy who works hard and is kind to everyone, and the last one (my son) just spent an intensive first semester in college, writing 16 heavy-duty papers on ethics and political science. None of them were still friends with each other by the end of high school because they went such different ways. But then, if fifth grade, they were a group--the boys of the class.

The drawing is terrible, but I'm posting it anyway. I'm hoping the next one will be better. This one made me Really Sad.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Music III

******* Here's another picture on one of the "blurred" pieces of paper. Yesterday I made a whole bunch more of these speckled on wet papers, and got some great effects which made me think of ways I could use those effects deliberately.

The problem with using sketches from my sketchbook as reference material is that they're a little vague on what exactly is going on with fingers (the sketchiness of them was just fine on the quick sketch, but nowhere near enough information for this) and what the lights and darks are (which I wasn't dealing with in the sketch, but on this I wanted to know).

But I'm happy to be making pictures, even ones that don't quite work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ILlustration Friday: Music II here's the REAL Illustration Friday picture.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Illustration Friday: Music

It's not like I haven't made a dozen or so "music" pictures, and I have some cool ideas for this one. But it's been our local dance weekend, and I didn't have any time at all. This is a sketch I made of one of the musicians at the dance weekend playing accordion, which I am going to post temporarily, which I'm working on a "real" music picture.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Paper

**********It's perhaps a silly thing to get excited about, but I bought a package of "cardstock" paper--not really sure what I intended to do with it--but when I opened it up, I was surprised at how SMOOTH it was. It made me want to draw on it--so I did, and sure enough, my pencil just glided over the surface....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sombrero Guy

See...I have six or seven of these pieces of paper that I splattered ink on top of a light wash for the "blur" topic, and now I have to put something on them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Accordion Guy #8

This is my reward for finishing the last class set of Frankenstein essays (I started four hours ago--ack!)--scanning and posting this little picture I made last night (when I was WAY too fried to grade essays). I now have two class sets of Scarlet Letter essays, and two class sets of Scarlet Letter tests, which are mostly writing and will take forever to grade. I'd much rather be making pictures (or playing music).

But this is another picture for the Illustration Friday. I "blurred" a whole bunch of pieces of paper with a light wash and then spattering ink on it so that it blurred in interesting ways.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Illustration Friday: Blur

I'm thinking about the blurring between reality and fantasy, or between this world and other worlds that we can't normally see. Between sleep and waking, between dream and the everyday. This topic makes me think of Charles De Lint's novels, where the OtherWorld is very close in many places to this one.

I'm not sure this picture at all captures that feeling, but it seems like it's been so long since I made a picture that was any more involved than the sketch I made last week (which I really really liked) that this felt really good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Illustration Friday: Skinny

It seems entirely possible that being old and skinny might be the most fun time of your life. The children are long-grown, you're long-retired, and all your cares have come to pass. All that's left is to enjoy life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Illustration Friday: Fast

Contradancing can be fast and furious. Here's the button design for our dance weekend in November. It will be 2 1/4 inches around, and have different colored backgrounds. People will write their names in the center with a permanent marker.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Oh dear. It's probably time to pass off the button-making duties to someone else. This is for our local contradance community's annual dance weekend. People write their name in permanent marker in the center of the button, and wear it all weekend. But I'm putting less and less time into designing them, and am less and less happy with the results.....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dog might ask yourself...what kind of card does one make when one's ex-husband is getting married. It's a tough one. They're both dog people, and here was a dog drawing I'd started along time ago for some Illustration Friday topic--I don't even remember what--that I barely got started on. So I spent an hour or so with colored tissue paper and liquid gel medium. This scan does NOT have the colors right AT ALL. I don't know what the deal with my scanner and colored things is. But this is it. I folded it down the middle, cut two pieces of black paper for the inside, and wrote what I hope was an appropriate message.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Illustration Friday: Flying

Their souls are flying from their bodies.

It looks like this scan is way too light...yup, it is. I don't know what happened. You can't even see the purple in the picture. But I'm too tired to try to rescan it, so this is what it is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Illustration Friday: Germs

Finally! On time, even. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. I've been sketching in my sketchbook, but not making anything more "finished", not that you could really call this finished, but it's more detailed than the quick sketches I've been doing.

This man has a germ of an idea. It will come to fruition sometime in the near future.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Illustration Friday: Infinite

Yea! I finally posted something for Illustration Friday. I see infinity in the looks of some of these old people. They're not seeing the here and now, but all time, stretching back to original time and into a future they will not ever know.

Of course I didn't mean to drop ink on his forehead, which looks like a hole in his head.....

Maybe now I can get back into the swing of things. I had the stupid new puppy trying to chew bones and chase sticks underneath my legs the whole time I was working on this.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Illustration Friday: Magnify

This is magnifying your fears, or your nightmares. Things seem so much worse at 4 in the morning than they do during the light of the day. I actually thought of doing this last week right when the topic came up, and even made a few little preliminary sketches, but I never got around to it. Too busy! But I don't want to stop making pictures, so I'd better get start making pictures regularly again. I'd like to print some off for cards to sell at the Bizarre Bizaar in November. It made me really happy to make this, even though I don't particularly like it. It looks better if you click on it to make it larger.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ILlustration Friday: Caution

It was time to do something a little different. Since school started, and we got a new puppy, it seems I've had no time. I didn't make a picture for last week's topic, and never finished my REAL drawing for "impatient", so it was really time.

This one is a bit too big for the scanner, so it cut off the top and bottom.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Illustration Friday: Impatience

Dogs are the most impatient, but in the best way. There are all those great smells out there, and they can't wait to run and around and investigate them all.

We at my house are impatient too, because we are getting a new puppy. I've been working on a puppy fence (our backyard used to be fenced, but when we built the addition on our house, the fence had to go to get the big equipment in), and the boys are asking me every day, "Has the humane society called yet." We went in last Friday and visited lots of puppies and dogs, and put in an application on one.

I have another dog picture that I started for impatience, but since I had to wait for a wash to dry, I made this little one in the meantime.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Accordion Guy #7

There! This makes me a whole lot happier...not so stiff or boring (despite some rather obvious problems, which I'm going to ignore at this point).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Illustration Friday: Modify

I think I need to modify my art-making plans. Two trips, and then a class, and now it's hot, and I haven't been making nearly as much art as I'd like to be. So I need to get some things started.

As far as this picture goes, he is modifying his plans on paper. I think I'd like to start this picture over again.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Illustraqtion Friday: Idle

She may be sitting; she may be exhausted; but this is NOT a woman inclined to idleness. A rare moment in her day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Drifting, revisited

This was a picture I started for the "Drifting" topic, a number of weeks ago. It was right after I realized that I wasn't allowed to use other people's images for reference, so this is an underwater picture of my own son (when he was much younger).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Real People vs. Pictures

I prefer drawing real people, but they don't sit still like people in pictures do. So I'm on a trip, and sketching, and there are all kinds of wonderful people in wonderful lighting to draw, but alas, they are not there solely for me to draw, so my drawing itch had to be scratched with doing some drawings from photographs as well. You can no doubt tell which is which. Of these, three are from real people, and two are from photos.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Illustration Friday: Hollow

I wish I had the lyrics to a song that some friends of mine sing (their band is called Lila). It's all about being hollow, and how necessary that it--for a cup to hold wine, for a flute to play music, and for a soul to soar. It's a lovely song, and this picture doesn't do it justice. But I'm happy to report that all my reference materical came from my own sketchbook (not that you could tell or anything)--from a sketch of a friend playing a wooden flute at an Irish jam, and another friend giving a flute recital, mostly for how the hands go and how they hold the thing. My initial sketch had the flute going the other way, and I had no idea how their hands went. This is quick, on a crappy piece of paper that I managed to pull out of a pad which had ink spilled and then dried on it. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sketches from Trip

Here are a few sketches from my trip: (in case you didn't know, I'm most interested in people, who never sit still except when they're sleeping in the back seat of a car on a long car ride.).

Illustration Friday: Shaky

This is a self-portrait, done in the car, in the mirror of the sun visor. We are driving home (17 hours) from a 2 1/2 week trip. I am SHAKY from caffeine, which I drink ONLY on long car trips, to stay awake.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Illustration Friday: Drifting

I made these both the week of "Pale", and am only posting them now because I'm in the middle of packing for a big trip. I'll miss two weeks of Illustration Friday. I hate to do that. Having that prompt every week has done wonders for me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Raining on my Parade

I suppose I should have looked into this sooner, but in my last post, I asked about copyright issues with reference material, and now that I've looked into it a bit, it seems that what I've been doing is completely illegal. All of my reference-using drawings are considered "derivative" works, and the originals (the sources of which I don't even know) are protected by copyright law. Evidently, the only LEGAL references (other than things from publications which explicitly state that that's what they're for) are those you create yourself.

So my accordion guy pictures, three of which I absolutely love and was thinking about perhaps making into cards, are Not Cool. This bums me out.

When I made the illustrations for Flat Earth, Round Earth, I used my son, his best friend, and a friend of mine as references. I took pictures of the boys in all the poses I could imagine wanting to use, and made three or four sketches of my friend. I even had my son's friend's mother sign a release form allowing me to use images of him in the book. THAT was all the way it should be.

I guess I was thinking (no, I really wasn't thinking at all) that since these were just things I was making for myself, and other people, that it didn't really matter. The likelihood of getting CAUGHT are almost nil. But since I would like someday to expand into doing something like this for real, and would need to put together some kind of portfolio, and send samples to folks, those things had better not be things with someone else's work.

So after being bummed awhile here (and eating far too many crepes that I made for my son for breakfast, and there was a pile left over), I'm thinking about how I can procure my own accordion-guy (and other musician) images. It's not like I don't know dozens of musicians. It's not like I'm not around them playing ALL the time. It's not like I can't say, "Hey, I'm making some drawings of musicians; could I take some pictures of you to use for references?" I can't imagine any of them saying "no." So there. I can do that.

Right now I'm working on two drawings of my sons. They're fair game.

(I wonder if I should delete all my posts that are violating copyright laws--most of the pictures are very different from the originals, but still....I bet some of them would be recognizable--29 out of the 54 pieces I'd say have for a reference something that was published elsewhere). Argh!

Too close?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Accordion Guy #6

Just more pen-and-ink drawings, with the idea that if I do enough of them, I'll get better at them. Plus they're a lot of fun.

What are the "rules" about references? What sorts of images are copyrighted? I mean, if you use an image from the internet as a reference, how different does your drawing have to be from the original photography to not be violating copyright law? Like this one. I actually don't know where I got it from. I printed off a whole bunch of accordion pictures a couple months ago, but I don't think any of them would be recognizable as "that picture". Sure, maybe something about the pose, but not the compositions, and I've taken a lot of liberties with a lot of things....

As with a whole bunch of other drawings I've done, I am still fascinated by the wrinkles on people's faces....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pipe Guy

I most definitely don't have the patience for this. I spent a good portion of the day cleaning the house (and only part of the house), with occasional forays out into the garden where I pulled up ash tree seedlings and saplings, and down into the basement to put laundry in the washer or dryer, and I NEEDED to do something else.

I'm fascinated by this guy's face, which almost looks okay from a distance (but not up close at all), but this drawing does NOT capture it at ALL, and now I'm cranky because it did not at all turn out the way I wanted it to.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Illustration Friday: Unfold

After my last couple of drawings, which were much more serious and which I liked a lot, this sketch is a bit ridiculous--both in its subject matter and its haphazard execution. It was my late-at-night-before-going-to-sleep drawing. But here's how it came about:

With the topic "unfold", I was envisioning some kind of piece which started with my son as a baby, and showing his life unfolding, with him becoming the young man that he is today. But when I started perusing pictures looking for likely images, it somehow seemed way too complicated, and I couldn't decide on a starting place. But there were too pages of pictures of him playing in a cardboard box, and somehow, with the topic "unfold", I saw that as a kind of unfolding too. He explored ALL the possibilities.

While most of my drawings of either on Strathmore bristol board, or Arches cold-press watercolor paper, this is in my sketchbook. As far as the rest of the image (outside of the baby in the box), what can I say. It kindof just happened. I don't particularly like it, but at midnight after a full day of playing music and talking with people, what can I say? Alas. I'm kindof amused by the whole thing, but am also ready to work again on something more serious.....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Red Coat Woman

I am really really liking these colored pencils on watercolor. They're water-soluable ones, but I haven't yet been tempted to use water on them....

...and these last two pictures are things I never even dreamed I could make. I really like them, And though I used references for them, they are not just copies. They become real people, with their own characters and lives. I love it when that happens (there's no point, otherwise).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rainy Day Projects

Okay, so I'm a little embarrassed to have posted three things in one day, but what else is there to do on a rainy day. I haven't done anything with colored pencils in a million years...okay, maybe not a million. I have a lot of them, but I hardly ever use them. It was a nice change of pace.

Accordion Guy #5

, m*******It's been cold and rainy all day, with intermittent storms. I've been alternating working on things like this and playing the nyckelharpa I'm borrowing. I think I'm going to go mad.

Accordion Guy #4

The only problem with making a picture that you really like (like the last one, not this one) is that for sure, the next one you're not going to like nearly so much. But you have to do it anyway. This one falls smack in the middle of that middle 50%, which is a shame, but oh well. I know what it is that I don't like about it, and what I'd do differently if I were going to do it again (which I most likely won't). That's the good thing about making pictures solely for yourself. You're ALLOWED to make bad pictures. And on this one, once I'd messed up (the blotch of ink on his face), then I was even more free to experiment, because it really didn't matter any more. It's only through experimenting that you discover things that hopefully you can use deliberately on other pictures.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Illustration Friday: Craving

All she craves is to be in contact with the currents of the universe.

That's what I crave too.

It seems that a lot of my favorite books from childhood on take that as a kind of basic premise. Think about A Wrinkle in Time--Meg and Charles Wallace are fighting the nothing that blots out the joy that all of the universe, from the stars down to the mitochondria feel in the dance they make together.

As far as the picture goes, it's one I started a couple months ago for a different Illustration Friday topic, but never finished. It was watercolor and water-soluble painting crayons. I couldn't find the original reference for the woman, so I had to wing it. Today I drew over the original with ink. It was just a little bit too wide for the scanner, so it's cut off on either side.

I think that I will print out a copy of this to put on a card for yet another friend who's turning 50. She's is one ALWAYS to celebrate the currents of the universe.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ball-point pen portrait

Here's tonight's before-I-go-to-sleep (and I REALLY should be in bed already) contribution to my sketchbook. It's from a photo of a friend of mine. I probably spent fifteen minutes on it, maybe twenty. The photograph itself was wonderful, but the sketch doesn't quite capture it (okay, so it doesn't come anywhere close to capturing it--I'll probably attempt this again tomorrow). And it has nowhere near the charm that this earlier 30 second sketch I did of her during an after-dinner music session....(she's the one on the bottom)...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Doctor Martin

My wonderful sister-in-law is graduating from medical school next week. I'm so incredibly proud of her. She's worked so hard. She then immediately starts her residency in family practice. She's going to be an incredible doctor.

(This is a card I made for her graduation. It doesn't really look like her, but then I've never really done portraits. It's got a bunch of problems that I'm not going to fix, but it's a card, and better than Hallmark for the occasion.) Okay, so I did "fix" a few things, but my son said at dinner last night, you better not show that to's kind of insulting, don't you think? It makes her look like a man, and...." I STILL say it's just a card, and any homemade card is better than a store-bought one, so yes, I AM going to give it to her. I wrote a letter to her on the back.