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1. Taiwan Trip Diary, Days 5 and 6

Into the mountains!

I've been sick--flu, cold, allergies, whatever you want to call it, but instead of blogging I've been stuck in bed reading (and finishing) Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet for the last couple of  weeks. My particular copy of The Quartet contained all four volumes in one door-stopper of a monstrosity, and my shoulders and wrists are suffering the consequences, LOL! Anyway, I'm much better now, have moved on to some lighter reading, and am ready to continue sharing my Taiwan trip, Days 5 and 6.

So . . . by Day 5 I had devised a sketching routine for my bus rides. I decided to divide some of my sketchbook pages into grids of six and then whenever we stopped at the traffic lights, or just slowed down, I would draw as quickly as possible in one or more of the squares. Some of the drawings are a bit esoteric, for instance:



At other times, however, the scenery was so consistent I was able to use a full page and go for some color, such as when we were following the coast:


They're funny little drawings, I know, but they mean a lot to me--and I now have some good references for larger work later this summer.


Other than drawing, the main focus for Day 5 was the National Center for Traditional Arts, and perhaps one of my favorite places on the tour. The idea behind the winding streets and specialty shops is to give visitors a sense of "old world" Taiwan while demonstrating how the various items for sale from puppets to paintbrushes are made. I found it utterly charming and ended up buying incense (complete with history lesson and a chance to sniff a wide variety of sandalwood shavings); preserved kumquats; dried "squid" cheese (a stringy cheese snack guaranteed to have not harmed any squids); and my most extravagant purchase to date: handmade lampwork glass beads for yet more jewelry-making. (I’m going to have to open my own shop at this rate.)

At lunch, served in a building that had once been an old kiln, one of our group members asked an interesting question: What have you learned about yourself so far? At first I seemed to have so many answers I couldn’t concentrate on just one, so I think I said something inane, like, “A lot!” But later that afternoon I wanted to examine the question in more depth. Here’s my reply straight and unedited from my journal: 

“I’ve learned that I don’t need to go on my dream-vacation to Japan. This trip is enough and even better. For years I thought I was “Japanese” in spirit. Now, after this trip, that no longer rings true. I have learned that I am more complex: for instance, in the Palace Museum I read that everything in Chinese culture and life holds meaning and symbolism. And it all has to add up and create the ultimate state of harmony. I have learned that I want that too. And that I want to use my five senses in my art and writing much, much more than I have in the past. I guess I've learned I am hungry for life. I want to keep learning."

Time Travel!

After lunch my quest for more "art and life" came to vivid life when I got caught up in a street theater performance—letting me believe I had been transported to another world and  century.

Then it was back on the bus for our next destination: our hotel and such a steep drive into the mountains we had to be calmed (i.e., distracted) by watching a spectacular movie on Taiwan's geographical wonders. Refreshments for the ride were what our guide referred to as “donkey tongue cookies.” Although I think something may have been lost in translation, they were very good, about ten inches of pastry filled with cinnamon, and I suppose they do look like donkey tongues (not that I'm any kind of expert on the subject).

And then . . . we arrived at our hotel, a wonderland of a resort owned and managed by the local Aborigines. I had NO idea we would be staying here (or anywhere like it, for that matter):

Magical morning.

My "10-minute" version of our cabin.

The dining room--great for early morning
journaling and sketching.
 

Using our hotel as "base camp,"  Day 6 took us hiking into the marbled cliffs of the Taroko Gorge:




Helmets were compulsory in this section--not, in my opinion, to protect us from the falling rocks, but because of the narrow walkway along the highway where buses, cars, and scooters whizzed, I mean whizzed by. Add to that my general fatigue from reaching the halfway point of our journey, and it's a miracle I didn't fall over the edge or in front of a speeding Porsche.


Taroko Gorge also provided my first monkey sighting in the village where we had lunch, followed by cold beers in a scenic garden setting while waiting for a few of our more-adventurous explorers to return. 


Beer finished, it was onto the bus and off to  a marble factory where we were able to take a peek into the high-security jade jewelry vaults. These star-fire gems (there is no other way to describe them) were unlike any pieces of jade I'd ever seen before--highly lustrous in shades of green, blue, and lilac, quite expensive, and guarded by uniformed girls straight out of a James Bond film. And, boy, did they keep their eyes out for sticky fingers. Once we'd had our look-see the cases closed with a bang, bang, bang and we were quickly ushered into the next room. Very quickly.

Marble chunks perfect for home or garden!

Back on the bus we had a lovely surprise waiting for us: our bus driver had bought us all porcelain pendant necklaces while we were admiring the jade. Mine was a miniature Blue Willow plate on a deep blue cord which I wore for the remainder of the trip. (It's currently on display in my writing room as part of my "Taiwan Memories" grouping.)

Necklaces in place, we then set out for another Aborigine village, this time with a lively dance show followed by a "hot pot" cook-your-own-dinner restaurant. As was often the case, I was given my own special vegetarian items to cook, starting with this amazing lotus flower:

 
A small lotus bud placed in  boiling soup water turned into . . . a 
genuine Kodak moment.
(And yes, I drew it in my sketchbook too.)

Highlight of the Day: Our Luxurious Leader Hotel. We were lucky enough to stay two nights in this beautiful setting and I don't think I'll ever forget a single moment. 

P.S. The dialogue in the video is in Chinese, but I thought that would provide an accurate example of what it was like to be there, rarely able to understand a single word anyone said! One difference between the video and our own stay is that the the grounds are shown to be more crowded than they were for us, but otherwise it's exactly the same. I even recognize some of the staff and  performers. So please turn on the sound, sit back, and enjoy.


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2. David Beronä, In Memory


It is with tremendous sadness that I share news I received this morning from my friend David Beronä's family: David passed away peacefully at home last night. He'd been fighting a brain tumor for about a year and a half, and so while the news is not quite a surprise, it is a blow.

I interviewed David for Colleen Lindsay's blog The Swivet in 2009, where we talked about his Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels, which had recently been published by Abrams. I knew very little about graphic narratives before meeting David, and he gave me an extraordinary education over the years, as his knowledge was vast and his passion was thrilling.

Eric Schaller and I had the honor of publishing what David told us was the last piece of writing that he completed before getting sick, the essay "Franz Masereel's Picture Books Against War", which appeared in last year's issue of our magazine The Revelator. David, Eric, and I did a bunch of work together, beginning with the Illustrating VanderMeer exhibit at Plymouth State University, where, until he got sick, David was Dean of Library and Academic Support Services.

The last time I saw David was at a retirement reception for him where the University dedicated a gallery wall of the library in his name. It was a bittersweet moment — so nice to see David being celebrated, so sad to have to say goodbye. Soon, he and his wife moved to Ohio to be closer to David's family. I didn't do a good job of keeping in touch, though I've thought of David frequently since he moved (which is no excuse for not being a better friend, but is the truth).

This past term, my last term of classes as a PhD student, I took a marvelous seminar on graphic narratives, and so David was constantly on my mind, and again and again I found myself returning to things he'd taught me, writers and artists whose work he'd introduced me to, ideas he had shared. I presented at the Dartmouth Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference, a conference David always attended when he could. That I had any confidence at all presenting in front of a bunch of comics scholars and enthusiasts was very much because I'd been able to talk about so much with David over the years. It would have been fun to have been there with him.

In the short notes he was able to send out to friends after beginning treatment, written against the aphasia the tumor imposed, David exhorted us to cherish our health, and especially our brains. (His life had changed completely over the course of a single weekend.) He spoke of the anger he felt at first when he realized how much he'd lost, and then the peace he found in accepting the vagaries of life, the good and bad, the love of friends and family, the little things and the everyday moments — the things that, in the end, linger longest. (The irony was, I'm sure, not lost on him that he was a man who'd written much about wordless books, and then had lost his words.) He returned to painting, and he was glad to find a good comics shop in the town he moved to in Ohio. He went for long walks in the woods. He spent his last year with family, and he knew that he had friends around the country and, indeed, around the world who were thinking of him.

He lives on in the knowledge he shared with us and the joy that he inspired. My life has been tremendously enriched by all he taught me, but, more than any of that, what I will carry as a memory of him forever is the memory of his smile. He never lost some of the wonder of childhood, and you could see it in his smile.

It's hard to smile today, but for David, I will try.

Lynd Ward, from God's Man

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3. time to go shopping....


holiday weekends are perfect for shopping...and sales! :)


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4. illustration friday~pet

slow and steady
11x14 acrylic on canvas
©the enchanted easel 2014
an adorable little sea turtle...the perfect pet for a beautiful pink haired mermaid.

{this piece, a commission for last year and one of my favorites to date. it's the pink hair...;)}

PRINTS (AND OTHER GOODIES) FOUND THROUGH THE SHOP LINKS HERE.

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5. mirror mirror on the wall....

©the enchanted easel 2015
so, i'm a little excited for these. ok, maybe a little *too* excited. but those who know me know i LOVE me a good mirror...especially when it's pocket sized and has a pretty picture (or in this case, a painting) on it! :)

ordered a few of these and will be posting them FOR SALE as soon as they arrive!

{so, the pink haired mermaid....kinda love her. such a girl...;)}

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6. Learning Patterns and Colors with Books

Learning patterns and colors with three kids books about color and patterns.

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7. i "heart" gingers....

©the enchanted easel 2015
and this little beauty, in progress.

red heads/gingers...always my favorite. ever since i was a little girl, i have always been fascinated with red hair, strawberry blonde, gingers, etc, etc, etc....

this beauty, named lily, with her macaroni and cheese colored tresses (i know, it's late and i shouldn't be thinking about mac and cheese...;)) and her beryl green colored eyes well, i "heart" her...already. :)

{fingers crossed she comes out great in the end!}

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8. SDCC and San Diego Public Library announce the Art of Comic-Con exhibit

1SD Central Library credit-Full Circle Image_Natalia Robert.jpg

While the San Diego Convention Center expansion looks to be dead in the water, Comic-Con International isn’t stopping on its moves to expand the footprint of the convention by expanding to other venues. Last year a couple of SDCC events were held at the San Diego Public Library, and this year the library will host an art show called The Art of Comic-Con that will showcase original art by more than 60 artists from the CCI archives including work by Sergio Aragonés, Howard Chaykin, Cliff Chiang, Michael Cho, Colleen Coover, Rick Geary, Gilbert Hernandez, Jim Lee, Dave McKean, Frank Miller, Marshall Rogers, John Romita Jr., Bill Sienkiewicz, William Stout, Babs Tarr, and others. The art was created for souvenir and program books for Comic-Con, WonderCon, and APE.

The show opens on Saturday, June 20, 2015 witha public reception from 12 to 2 pm and runs through August 30th 2015, so plenty of time to go see it during the con. It was jointly organized by Kara West, the Library’s Arts and Culture Exhibition Manager and Gary Sassaman, Comic-Con International’s Director of Print and Digital Media. The show will be held at the Art Gallery on the 9th Floor of the San Diego Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common.

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9. RIP: Glen Orbik

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Artist and teacher Glen Orbik passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer,. He was either 51 or 52 (Wikipedia says he was born in 1963.) Orbik was well known for his modern-day pulp-styled covers, and some striking work on several Marvel, DC and Vertigo titles, including the original run of Howard Chaykin’s American Century.

Orbik was well regarded as a teacher at the California Art Institute, where he himself went to school, studying under Fred Fixler. I have a big soft spot for pulp art and I was always a fan. Orbik’s covers were throwbacks to a less subtle era, but added elegance. You can find much more of his work at his website.

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10. Art is about to happen.

Here are some children. Here is a basket of colourful pencils.
Art is about to happen.

The children know exactly what to do with this big basket of colourful pencils: dig with both hands. Dig right to the bottom.
The rattle of pencils is the ritual that has to come before the concentrated frowning and the murmured incantations: This is a lion. This is a lion. This is a lion. This is a tree. This is a tree. This is a tree.

Have you ever used one of those pencils?
Did you think: it's a wonder what a child's imagination can do, I can't draw a THING with this?
No one can. We all tried. Some of us thought it was our fault and stopped trying.

Those are fake pencils.

The reason these children are digging through them with so much energy is because they are looking for one that works. They know to go for the shortest nubbins at the bottom of the box. Ignore the long ones, no one else got anything out of them.

They are foraging, with great determination.
Imagine what that determination could do.

When a child makes art, it's not a case of playing pretend. It's not like playing brain surgery with a spoon and a pudding. It's not like feeding a plastic doll. They are not playing artist. THEY ARE ACTUALLY MAKING ART.

They use what they are given. They scratch faint lines, they rub puddles of chalky water across dissolving printer paper with splayed brushes. They powder fat snakes of glue with scales of confetti and glitter.

What would happen if someone gave you a bowl of confetti and some glue and told you to make art?
You might refuse. (I would.)
Children are generally good-natured enough to at least give it a try. But even the most loving guardian and the children themselves may look at the result and find it hard to see if, in fact, somehow, art has happened.
You stick it on the fridge, and you can tell what it is and everything... but is it art?
Well, it’s creative.
“Creative” often means “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t make that”.
Would you ever wish you’d made something that a child made?
Yeah... this is definitely very creative.
Maybe one day, if those children keep being creative and try very hard, some of them might even become artists...

But - who cares if they may be artists one day? What's the point in telling them they may be artists one day if they work hard? What's that got to do with anything? Is this whole confetti business some sort of test? Are we trying to trick them into law school or something?
It simply doesn't matter what they will be one day.
Art is not just for artists. It's for humans. It's not a privilege. It’s a way to think with your hands (or your feet or your voice or your whole body, depending on the art, but we started with children and a basket of colour pencils, so pictures are trying to happen right now).
Art lets you have a good look at your thoughts, and show them to the world if you want.

You don't need a license to make marks. You just need something that makes marks.

The joy of making pictures is more than an act of imagination. It's physical. Your gestures made visible and permanent, the marks you make, belong to you alone, like your own body. They come before communication, before expression: they are the basis of all those things.

Give them things that leave marks. Try them out yourself. Are they enjoyable to use? Can you get a range of different marks out of them? Are they the marks you expected? Do they surprise you?

In short, do you feel like you are making something - or do you just feel like you are using something up?
Keep trying out materials. You'll know them when you find them.

You don't need to buy whole sets of expensive tubes of paint - or sets of anything, or anything expensive. You don’t need many different colours. Every good piece of art material unlocks endless possibilities. By good I mean anything that readily creates or receives a mark, which may include beetroot juice or a particularly well-charred stick, and the lovely white rounded cards that are used to package tights. Do professional artists paint with their breakfast tea sometimes? Of course they do, if it's nice and strong!

Some good art materials command respect: you must wear clothes that you don't mind staining, and you must handle them carefully. A bottle of red ink could spoil a whole carpet.
You may be surprised how much respect children can show for a powerful substance like that. Being careful for a good reason is fun, and using something that requires your supervision is exciting and memorable.
Those children like to see you deal with important substances, you know.

Art materials often need some care. Brushes need to be washed and stored carefully. Maybe the children have pets, or toys that they care about. Can they look after those? Then they can look after their tools, if you teach them.


You can give them a load of fake colourful toys that don't make a mess because they don't actually leave any traces at all - or you can let them make art.
A real brush costs no more than a pack of toy ones. A box of decent watercolours costs more than a pound shop set – get one with fewer colours. Find some bright colours that mix well, and you’ll suddenly have a whole range. Or pick just one single colour, but one that leaves a mark. Get to know that colour. Ask that colour what it can do, and you will be surprised.

By all means and of course: check if the paints are toxic. If they eat paint, they aren’t ready for paint that must not be eaten. But don’t underestimate them as they learn. If they can learn to deal with boiling water, and learn to deal with cleaning products, they can learn to deal with art materials. You'll be there to help them with the messier ones, and find ones that are safe enough as long as the area is covered against smears and splashes.
You may well find that as soon as they are actually making marks that are meaningful to them, the children won't be anywhere near as messy as you fear because they won't have to make up in dramatic performance and make-believe for what the material denies them in actual experience.
They will WANT to make something beautiful rather than just have a play-time with colourful sticks that are better for throwing than drawing with.

Maybe you don’t have a budget for art materials. Don't forget about all the good stuff you can just use for free. If you have a pair of scissors and some paper glue, anything colourful in your paper recycling may be a collage picture waiting to happen. A felt-tip pen and some scrap paper is better than that whole basket of useless crayons.

One last thing: Don't just hand everything over to the children. Why should they have all the fun and education? Make some art together. And I mean: each make their own piece. If the materials work, you probably won't need to help them to make it look good any more. Of course you can also collaborate on things, that's part of the fun. But above all, respect each other's art: you make your thing, they make theirs. You will find that you can teach one another a lot.

It’s amazing what a child’s imagination can do - but don’t let them imagine that they can’t make art.
Make those fake pencils into a tiny fence for a herd of amazing beasts painted with tea stains and thumb prints, pink highlighters and ink.

Art is about to happen.
Don't miss out.

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11. throwback to last week....

"pocket protector"
©the enchanted easel 2015
8x10 acrylic on canvas
and these two!

this commission, which i appropriately titled "pocket protector" (for obvious reasons) is NOW AVAILABLE AS A PRINT (and can be found on some other goodies....) through the shop links found HERE!

if you would like something custom created for that special child in your life, please email me here and i will surely accommodate you. 

{...'cause every little boy needs a good "pocket protector";) }

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12. All-New By Its Cover #4 (Covers For April 2015)

ALL-NEW-BIC

The column that judges a book by its cover, focusing on the month’s best-designed comic covers. For the month’s best-illustrated comic covers, see Best Comic Covers Ever (This Month).

 

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Deep State #5 by Matt Taylor

There are a lot of things working really well in this cover. The core image is very simple, while the complex red lines add texture. The color scheme is solid. But the thing that really grabs my interest is the realization that the gun to the back of his head looks like it could be his own, disappearing off to the side and coming out the other. Depending on how well the comic was trimmed at press, you could line them up side-by-side and create a repeating image (except for the texture that doesn’t quite match up).  It’s a fun concept.

 

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Ghosted #19 by Dan Panosian

I always enjoy seeing clever attempts at integrating the logo into the image. Filling most of the cover with the logo, dwarfing characters placed in front of it, gives the image an epic feel. Unfortunately, the other text elements seem like afterthoughts in comparison. Also, while I noticed right away that the logo was part of a fence, it took me awhile to realize that the “O” was a door opening.

 

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Outlast #8 by Paul Azaceta

I love the color palette of this image, except that the darkest black seems a little too loud. It could’ve been just a little more subtle. I love the mood of the cover, which reminds me a little of the indie game Kentucky Route Zero, but there’s something goofy happening with the perspective of the figure in relation to the background. He’s towering over that car. I like the placement of all the text elements, but every time I see the logo, I think it says “Outlast.”

 

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Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #7 by Mike Del Mundo

The only problem with this cover is that it disappoints me by being for an issue of Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, a series that is very clearly not about a boy flying a kite with his robot while death looms overhead. Unless I’m wrong, and the series has been transformed into a quirky indie book?

 

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Ms. Marvel #14 by Jake Wyatt

I love the idea of integrating the logo in this way, but I think the composition would be much stronger if it was all moved up and to the left a little, kind of like this (please excuse the sloppiness of the edit).

 

AT-36

Adventure Time #36 (2nd Printing) by Jay Shaw

This might be the most epic Adventure Time cover I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the text placement on the printed cover kinda screws it all up. One AT fan I showed it to didn’t even realized it was Jake at first due to the way the logo interrupts the image. It might’ve worked better to make the logo smaller and move it to the lower right corner above the barcode.

 

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Howard The Duck #2 by Joe Quinones

The bottom is so cluttered with randomly placed elements, but the illustration made me smile, so it gets a free pass.

 

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Convergence Variants by Chip Kidd

I was tempted to be a smart ass and just copy/paste the text from my very first column, where I talked about concept dilution. Instead, I’m going to be a smart ass by linking to that installment, so you can see just how similar these covers are to the original example I used.

Apologies to Chip Kidd — I do enjoy your work a great deal. :-)

 


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

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13. "green eyes,

©the enchanted easel 2015
yeah, the spotlight shines upon you..."
{Coldplay}

this beauty, named Lily, is what's on the easel for the next week.  i "heart" her.
{couldn't resist the Coldplay lyrics, of course ;)}


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14. Tuesday - A Week in the Artist Studio

Monday officially sets the week in motion, and by Tuesday, I feel like I can best determine what kind of week it's going to be. Granted, things unexpected always happen, but this week Norah has a cold, which means a lot of play and a lot of snuggles. I need to keep my to do list simple and not expect to get everything done.

If she has a cold, I'm not too far from one, so self care (napping when she naps, eating well, etc) is just as important for me too.


Today I'm excited because I get to paint three lovely ladies sipping tea. I was going to do coffee (since I'm a coffee fanatic), but I wouldn't have been able to draw the wee tea flags that I adore so much. ^_^

Tuesdays are a day for creating. I do my best to reserve this day for painting or drawing. Sometimes if I am able, I will paint or draw Monday night to gear me up for Tuesday. Somehow that works for me.

Last night I was able to put 4 hours in (!!!) and got some Christmas art finished, and today is the reward by painting something fresh and new!


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15. Illustrator Shadra Strickland Takes Us Behind the Art of Sunday Shopping

shadra stricklandSunday Shopping, our new spring title released this month, is a whimsical and fun-filled story of a young girl and her grandmother who use their big imaginations to go “shopping” through the Sunday paper. We asked illustrator Shadra Strickland to take us behind the scenes for creating the art work used in Sunday Shopping.

Making the Art for Sunday Shopping

Making the art for Sunday Shopping was almost like making two different books. The two art styles were distinctly different. The illustrations of Evie and grandma in bed were painted in watercolor, much like the paintings I made for Bird. The second set of images were made with a combination of line drawings, acrylic paintings, and assembled digitally.

The most challenging part of making the art for Sunday Shopping, was making sure that all of Evie and grandma’s “bought” items were consistent in all of the small paintings. I had to draw the same small bits of paper in every scene as the wall of items grew and grew.

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Once the watercolors were done, I drew all of the Evie, grandma, and cat characters on pieces of Bristol board. They were all painted in the same week to make sure that the clothes and skin tones were consistent. Even then, some colors had to be adjusted after I scanned them into the computer.

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Once the characters were all done, I made drawings of the imaginary world with a wax pencil (also known as a China Marker). I drew on sheets of smooth plastic like drawing vellum. Those drawings were then scanned into the computer.

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Next, I painted different pieces of newspaper in different colors based on all of the elements I needed in the book. Some colors were adjusted digitally, but not many. Most of the paper was used as it was painted.

sunday shopping illustrations_5After everything was scanned in, I began to “cut” shapes out in photoshop and compose them within the line drawings.

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The last step was digital retouching. I had to go back into a few faces and digitally paint over some faces to make sure that skin tone was consistent throughout.

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My wonderful editor checked all of the art for consistency, and after a few passes back and forth, we made sure all of the elements were lined up throughout.

Once all of the art was assembled, I worked closely with our designer to discuss page color and type design for the book. My favorite thing about making books with Lee and Low is how truly collaborative the process is!

You can learn more about Shadra Strickland and her creative process on her website.

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16. IF-Wiggle

The word of the week is Wiggle…So what comes to mind?

Well, when I was a kid we would drive to my grandparents house in Cleveland. It wasn't a long drive, although when you're 10 or 12 it felt longer than the actual half hour or so that it was. On one of these drives I decided to let my pencil wiggle about my paper on the drive home, just to amuse myself I guess. I remember just relaxing the pencil on the paper and letting the road do the drawing. It looked something like this
It was more jaggedy than wiggly. Looking back I think it was an experiment in self control--could I keep the pencil on the paper the whole way home? And also the curiosity to see the final outcome. Nerdy artist even back then.

As I think about this word, and look over my art, it seems that my art is just filled with wiggles…



I have wiggly castles, and wiggly trees.




...and more wiggly trees, along with strange rooster creatures and wiggly haired cave women.



And here is one of my favorite wiggles, this cute little snake basking in the sun. I could go on and on with my wiggle art.

Doing fun kids art makes me happy. I go into a zone that I really like. It brings memories back of days that felt lighter and simpler. Days when you would play outside with friends until the street lights would come on. Days of chalk on sidewalk, or whirling finger paint onto large sheets of paper, just for the joy of how it felt and the colors it made. Warm summer nights filled with catching lightning bugs, or piling into a station wagon to go to the drive-in-movie.

...Or times when you did funny things, like holding your pencil to your paper for an entire car ride just because.

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17. Klutz Activity Kits | Book Review

Klutz’s book based activity kits are exceptional for providing inspiration and convenience and for allowing children to explore and uncover new interests and talents.

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18. Five Family Favorites with Margarita Engle, Author of The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist

Margarita Engle, author of The Sky Painter, selected these five family favorite children's books.

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19. San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum forced to find a new home

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“Cartoon Art Museum” by User:Tfinc – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

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This is sad but not surprising—given the insane rise in real estate prices in San Francisco, it was only a matter of time before the Cartoon Art Museum, which occupied a spacious and accessible spot near Market Street has been evicted so its space can be converted to something expensive and greedy. The museum will stay open until June 28th, and in a release they note that the move was not unexpected and they had already begun preparations, just like Cutter and Skywise.

While a LOT of people have tried to open a comics art museum in the US over the years—Mort Walker, Kevin Eastman, David Gabriel, MoCCA and more—the Cartoon Art Museum, which began as a home for historian Bill Blackbeard’s massive collection. It’s become a staple of the Bay Area’s cultural life with weekly events and classic exhibitions, under the guidance of manager Andrew Farago, executive Director Summerlea Kashar and Board chairman Ron Evans. The museum will last long enough to take part in the first San Francisco Comics Fest, before moving to temporary gallery space while it searched for a permanent home.

Maybe this is a chance for Apple, Google, Twitter, Uber and all those other billion dollar companies to actually show that they care about more than making a buck and sink a little tax free charity dollars into adding to the culture of the area they’ve colonized. Crazy dream, I know.

Following a notice to vacate, the Cartoon Art Museum will be closing its doors at 655 Mission Street on Sunday, June 28, 2015.  The museum, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, began preparing several months ago for a possible relocation and will now continue those efforts in search of temporary gallery space as well as a new long-term home.
 
“This is just another challenge in the life of the Cartoon Art Museum,” says Summerlea Kashar, the museum’s Executive Director. “And given San Francisco’s current commercial real estate market, it’s not very surprising.”
 
The Cartoon Art Museum is the only museum in the western United States dedicated to promoting a greater appreciation of cartoons, comics, animation, and illustration.  Through exhibitions, artist appearances, and community outreach programs, the museum demonstrates how cartoon art entertains, communicates diversity, and champions self-expression.  Thousands of young people have benefited from the museum’s programs and classes in creativity.
 
Over the past three decades, the museum has produced more than 180 exhibitions on topics ranging from politics and sports to children’s literature and Latino culture.  Among the hundreds of artists that have been featured are Kate Beaton, Mary Blair, Roz Chast, Robert Crumb, Dan DeCarlo, Will Eisner, Phil Frank, Dave Gibbons, Edward Gorey, Los Bros. Hernandez, Lynn Johnston, Chuck Jones, Jack Kirby, Keith Knight, Tom Meyer, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, John Romita, Stan Sakai, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, Raina Telgemeier, Garry Trudeau, Morrie Turner, Mort Walker, Bill Watterson, and Wally Wood.
 
The Cartoon Art Museum remains open through late June with many programs slated for the next two months.  In May, the museum will take part in the inaugural San Francisco Comics Fest with an event celebrating San Francisco’s underground comix movement.  It will also play host to Comics 4 Comix, an evening of standup comedy, as well as the second annual Queer Comics Expo.  The museum’s final exhibition at 655 Mission Street will showcase original artwork from Jeffrey Brown’s popular series of Star Wars books, including Goodnight Darth Vader and the forthcoming release Darth Vader and Friends.

“We’re one of San Francisco’s most original educational institutions and a magnet for visitors from around the world,” says Board Chairman Ron Evans. “The staff and board are committed to maintaining the museum as a vital part of the city’s cultural fabric.  We welcome any and all support from those who would like to help us do so.”
 
For information on becoming a museum member, making a financial or in-kind donation, or enlisting as a corporate sponsor, please call 415-227-8666 x 313 or visitcartoonart.org/join-support <http://cartoonart.org/join-support/>.  Supporters are also encouraged to contribute to the Cartoon Art Museum’s capital campaign <http://cartoonart.org/join-support/cartoon-art-museums-future-relocation/> .

 

3 Comments on San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum forced to find a new home, last added: 4/18/2015
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20. Miami Vice: Remix by Casey and Mahfood continues to be wilder than it has any reason to be

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It’s almost quitting time here in EDT so let’s leave the week with something FUN for a change.

Why just do a comic book based on a classically of it time TV show when you can reinvent it as an acid trip that bends time and
space? And hooray for licensors who let you get away with it. Miami Vice: Remix by Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood is anything but a dull TV show comic…it’s an audacious tale on tropes and icons, and a gem in the Lion Forge line-up.

Last month, the TV classic Miami Vice came back in a whole new way with the neo-noir, ultraviolet, action-packed Miami Vice: Remix. The first issue left readers cliff-hanging but never fear — the next installment of car chases, palm trees, and mutation-inducing designer drugs is here!

When we last left Crockett and Tubbs (still Miami’s coolest cops) they were in a sticky situation with some South Florida zombies high on Miami Bath Salts. Now they’re in hot pursuit of the dealer of this horrific nose candy, which leads them to punching cracked-out monsters in the face while zooming through Florida Turnpike traffic. Just another day at the office! But while one situation explodes, another simmers; someone who’s got serious beef with our $600-suit-wearing-heroes claims that Crockett’s got a serious debt to pay — and they’re here to collect!

Writer Joe Casey (Godland, Wildcats, Adventures of Superman) and artist Jim Mahfood (Tank Girl, Ultimate Spider-Man, Grrl Scouts) take their off-the-wall trip to South Beach to the next level with another high-energy, neon-soaked installment, in-stores next Wednesday.

 

Issue #2
Pub Date: April 22, 2015
Item Code: FEB150372

Issue #3
Pub Date: May 13, 2015
Item Code: MAR150456

Issue #4
Pub Date: June 17, 2015
Item Code: APR150489
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21. All-New By Its Cover #3 (March 2015 Covers)

ALL-NEW-BIC

The column that judges a book by its cover, focusing on the month’s best-designed comic covers. For the month’s best-illustrated comic covers, see Best Comic Covers Ever (This Month).



Empty-Ei8ht

The Empty #2 by Jimmie Robinson & Ei8ht #2 by Rafael Albuquerque

Last month I featured the first issues of The Empty and Ei8ht, which both used warm/cool color schemes and had strong compositions. This month they’ve both stuck to very similar compositions as their previous issues, and have both switched to a green color scheme. I assume purely by coincidence, though one of you may want to check to see whether your office has been bugged.

When doing a series of monthly covers with a similar layout, changing the color like this is extremely important in order to avoid “did I already by this one?” syndrome. But even when changing up the colors and one area of the illustration, I would highly recommend only sticking to the layout for a single storyline at most, and then dramatically changing it up. This is a great way to signal that a new storyline, while visually tying together the individual issues within a storyline.

By contrast, if you stick to the same layout for a year or more, you increase the changes of “did I already by this one?” syndrome, not to mention readers potentially bored of looking at it.  For instance, I love the cover design of Moon Knight and East Of West, but I loved them a lot more the first time I saw them, and a little less each time after. After a year of these, now I just want to see something — anything — else. That said, I probably get bored more quickly than the average reader.

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Elektra #11 by Mike Del Mundo

This might be my favorite Del Mundo cover yet. It’s just so bold and striking, achieving iconic simplicity and sticking with three colors. I like the way Elektra overlaps the logo, creating depth while also making the logo look huge in comparison.

 

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Howard The Duck #1 by Chip Zdarsky

I enjoy this cover for several reasons. There’s the dry humor, of course, but it also appeals to me because I’m drawn to comic covers that aren’t designed like comic covers. The right-aligned text is arranged very nicely, as opposed to a lot of Marvel variants that get creative with the logo placement but then throw the creator credits on in a way that looks random or arbitrary.

Also, notice that “001 Variant Edition” has been stacked on the Marvel logo to create a block, and the block is the same height as and lines up with the bar code. Arranging elements so they line up in a pleasing way is something I don’t see enough in comic cover design.

 

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Coffin Hill #16 by Dave Johnson

Remember what I said just a moment ago about design/text elements not lining up in a pleasing way? Yeah. But let’s just pretend those aren’t there. The illustration itself is very nicely designed, looking sort of like Johnson’s take on what Robinson did with his covers for The 7th Sword. I like how the placement of the bottom image suggests that the house is machine churning through bodies. The bottom and top image are also connected by the red windows, which hint that the bottom image is a reflection of what’s inside. A nice touch.

 

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Ant-Man #3 by Cliff Chiang

I keep having to remind myself this is issue #3, but the image seems so iconic it looks like a first issue. It visually represents his power in a well designed way, and the colors push him forward. Really solid.

 

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Uncanny X-Men #32 by Phil Noto

I think this is the last of the variants from Noto month? These covers were a breath of fresh air, looking so different from anything else out there.

If I had one complaint, it’s that the speed at which Noto no doubt had to pump these out resulted in some repetition in designs. For example, I got a little tired of seeing “the figure on the right is partially cropped and out of focus”:

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If I had a second complaint, it’s that too many of the covers reflected bad design from various eras rather than just sticking with good design from each.

That said, the Uncanny X-Men #32 cover above is one of my favorites, because the logo and its placement looks retro in a timeless way that would work as a permanent logo for the series.

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I also liked this Daredevil cover, because I think the “DD” in the corner (minus the word “Daredevil”) would work great as a modern logo for the series.

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And there’s something about Deadpool’s logo being in plain black-on-white Helvetica that makes me laugh, but maybe I’m just odd.

 

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God Hates Astronauts #6 by Tradd Moore

Liefeld wept! This isn’t a Noto cover, but I had to save the best for last. I saw this, and my brain instantly overloaded. Even the guns have pouches! I just have no words. So I’ll end it here for now.

 


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

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22. Hugo Pratt: Artist as Adventurer now at the Society of Illustrators

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I’ve been raving about all the great comics art that was up at the Society of Illustrators during April for the MoCCA fest, but they’re not stopping with Alt.Comix, Little Nemo and Craig Yoe. The new exhibit is a show of Hugo Pratt art. The creator of Corto Maltese is one of the all time great comics illustrators and this sounds like a must see. The show runs until June 13th, so get on down!

There have been many adventure-comics creators, but not many whose personal lives could serve as inspiration for their comics’ hero. Hugo Pratt was born in Italy and raised in Ethiopia where, at age 15, he was interned, with his mother, in a British prison camp. After World War II he returned to Italy, then set out for Argentina, spending the next decade drawing comics and traveling around South America. A brief sojourn in London preceded a return to Argentina, a return to Italy, then a move to France, before his final move, to Switzerland in 1984, where he lived until his death in 1995.

During his peripatetic lifetime, he was threatened with execution as a spy, organized entertainment for Allied troops, and drew adventure or war comics in Italy, Argentina, England, and France. Clearly influenced by Milton Caniff, Pratt nevertheless developed a distinctive style that used the cinematic “camera” to great effect, as well as a simplicity of line that conveyed a great deal with extraordinary economy.

Pratt’s most famous creation, the wandering Maltese sailor Corto Maltese, was born in Italy in the pages of the Sergeant Kirk comics magazine, but achieved international fame in France, serialized in the children’s weekly Pif Gadget. Pratt was able to use his own broad literary and historical knowledge to add depth and sophistication to these stories, bringing an adult audience to the comics, which were eventually translated into twelve languages. In addition to the Corto Maltese tales, issued first in black-and-white, then reissued in color, Pratt worked on travel sketches, autobiographical memories, and the occasional commission, as seen in this exhibition.

“Hugo Pratt: Artist as Adventurer” is curated by Patrizia Zanotti and Karen Green, and is supported in part by IDW Publishing.

 

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23. A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

A Nest is Noisy Written by Dianna Hutts Aston; Illustrations by Sylvia Long Chronicle Books. 2015 ISBN: 9781452127132 Preschool on up I received a copy of this book from the publisher. They’ve done it again!  The award-winning duo, Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long, have added a fifth title to their informational science picture book series. (An Egg is Quiet, A Seed is Sleepy, A

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24. Japanese Craftsman Restores Old Books

Some bibliophiles like to sell their old books. Others transform them into gorgeous artistic pieces. One Japanese craftsman restores them beautifully.

According to RocketNews24.com, Nobuo Okano, a Tokyo-based craftsman, has the ability to “make even the most decrepit book look like you just pulled it off the shelf at the bookstore.” BoredPanda.com reports that he has “spent 30 years perfecting the art of restoring old books.” The video embedded above showcases Okano working on an old Japanese-English dictionary with his iron—what do you think?

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25. finishing touches....

©the enchanted easel 2015
on these two commissioned cuties.
that's what's going on tonight!

©the enchanted easel 2015

{will be selling PRINTS of this painting SOON! :)}

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