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1. at the very top




 
We've reached it, almost:  that time of year so precisely and richly
described by Natalie Babbitt that it changed me as a reader and a writer. 




The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.
-- Prologue from Tuck Everlasting, 1975

This beginning to a book caught me like hands holding my 10-year-old head on both sides, looking me urgently in the eyes and saying, "Of words we can make art, art as true as a photograph layered with brushes of color, with sound and rhythm of blues symphony, full of the woven textures of weariness, curiousness, motion and suspense.  Writing can do it all."

What about you, poetry friends?  What piece of literature brought you to see writing as art, made you want to live in and even make this kind of art?


Keri has the round-up today at Keri Recommends.  Happy Almost August.

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2. The Norm Breyfogle Whisper campaign is a can’t miss deal

In December, artist Norm Breyfogle suffered a stroke which left his drawing hand impaired. He'll need months of therapy to hopefully regain his mobility to be able to walk, draw and hopefully work again. And the comcis industry being what it is, generous folks have set up

an Indiegogo campaign to raise $10,000 to help with Norm's therapy. BUT it is not just a feel good campaign (although that would be enough. The Nrm Breyfogle Whisper Campaign also gets you a reprint of Whisper, an early kick ass woman comic from the 80s. Written by Steven Grant, this is a solid book of the era.

1 Comments on The Norm Breyfogle Whisper campaign is a can’t miss deal, last added: 7/29/2015
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3. Charlotte Day

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Charlotte Day specialises in creating botanical inspired illustrations, she combines an historical interest in botany with the decorative arts. Charlottes work has featured on editorials and on products such as tents and teapots! Her clients include Random House, Penguin, Liberty and Anthropologie to name a few. 

To see more fantastic work from Charlotte Day visit her website 

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4. Truly Outrageous art: Stephanie Hans does Jem and the Holograms

Via Tumblr, the amazing painter Stephanie Hans has gone totally pink for this variant cover for IDW’s Jem comic. Written by Kelly Thompson, with art by Sophie Campbell, this comic is a nice throwback to the Jem and the Holograms most Gen Xers remember as opposed to the Pitch perfect 3 treatment the movie is […]

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5. Mermaid sightings

The twins are fast approaching ten!
"Tween twins!" Winnie reminds me.
"Double digits, doubled!"

And just like that, a decade ebbs with moon and tide.

 
Having soaked up the Emily Windsnap books lately, 
they want to be mermaids. 
So, I've been making art.
Mermaidy tattoos!
 
Painted shells. 
Waves of seaweed.
Glowy lights.  
Cupcakes + art = yummy.   
 


Mermaids, this way. Your party awaits.

 Books!

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The Tail of Emily Windsnap (Emily Windsnap, #1)

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The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Anderson, ill. by Lisbeth Zwerger 
Breathe - Scott Magoon
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Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea - Steve Jenkins
Shh! We Have a Plan - Chris Haughton
The Storm Whale - Benji DaviesPlastic Ahoy! Investigating the great Pacific Garbage Patch - Patricia Newman
Shackleton's Journey - William Grill






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6. Harvey Pekar Park: the complete banners

Specifically Derf Backderf’s Facebook photos which show the event held on Saturday and the transformation of a dilapidated Cleveland park into a new, vibrant space, all honoring one of Cleveland’s not memorable citizens. The park has a plaque (above) but also six banners drawn by Joseph Remnant and designed by Pekar’s widow, Joyce Brabner, that tell […]

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7. Pain-free Writing and Art

also posted on WritersRumpus.com most visuals by author Here’s something for writers and illustrators to consider: the painful physical effects of your work. Don’t laugh. I kid you not. You might think that the arm in the photo (mine, actually) looks pretty healthy. After years of making welded steel sculpture using all sorts of heavy […]

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8. Nature



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9. Brooklyn Public Library Hosts Fairy Tale Art Show

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10. An Update


Hello! It has been sooo very long since I have blogged on this blog. I am still reading and writing, but things have taken a bit of a different turn for me. It's so interesting to look back on this blog and see this progression of growing up...

Here's what's changed! :)

1. I have two little girls. I LOVE them. They are hilarious, cheeky, stubborn and the very sweetest.

2. I have 4 cats, and no other pets at the moment.

3. We've just sold our very first house and now are moving to the country! We're off to Wagga Wagga NSW and we are very excited.

4. I am going to write, again. I am hoping that this lifestyle change will enable me to have more time to write. Which is hard to manage as -


5. I am now a photographer. I specialise in babies and families. I enjoy it so very much. I've spent the past 3 years throwing myself into learning to be my best behind the camera, and also spending lots of time focusing on my family.



6. I am STILL obsessed with Autumn and everything fall related. In fact, I reference it in my business name. You can find my work HERE.


7. I am happy. Life is good. It's been an up and down few years with post-natal depression and anxiety battles, but things are good. Friendships are good. The kids are great. We're doing well :)

8. We still travel back to America about once a year, and it's delightful to introduce our kids to new places and views.



So that's a bit of an update of what I've been up to! I would love to get reading and reviewing a bit more so I'll have some things to blog about! I did start blogging about education activities and kid-related stuff, which changed when the photography business got so busy.

Hopefully see you soon!

April

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11. Matt Fraction speaks on collaborators and credit

Sex_Criminals_Cover.jpg

Can NO ONE get this “credit” thing right? A few days ago we noted artist Chip Zdarsky standing up for Matt Fraction, writing of Sex Criminals, after only Zdarsky was mentioned on the Harvey Awards ballot. Now an io9 article entitled 6 Reasons Why Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye Is One of Marvel’s Greatest Comics touched off another round of what we were talking about yesterday , with artists being left off the “ownership” of comics with increasing frequency.

And predictably, Fraction responded, expanded the list of key collaborators to the editors, colorists and letterers who make it all possible:

The comics I write rely on collaboration and most especially my collaborators. I write projects specifically for the people that draw them – and oftentimes color and letter them, too.

Without David Aja there would be no HAWKEYE.

Without Annie Wu, Kate would not have gone west. Without Matt Hollingsworth, Lucky would not have solved a crime. Without Chris the Winter Friends wouldn’t exist and nobody would’ve said anything in any of the books anyway. Without Steve Wacker there would be no book at all.

Without Chom Zduggitty there is no SEX CRIMINALS.


More in the link, but there is something in the air for sure.

Just for the record, the Beat policy is to credit writer AND artists whenever a book’s creators are mentioned. We don’t achieve 100% success on that because of lapses duw to time and concentration, but they are lapses, not policy, and if we lapse, feel free to point it out.

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12. Little Scribblers Doughnut Art

Congratulations to 3 Little Scribblers this week at our doughnut art class. They used our ages 3+ training scissors for the first time, cut out circles (a challenge for newbies) and frosted them with purple homemade puffy paint and sprinkles. Nice work, girls!

Little Scribbler Doughnut

Little Scribbler Doughnut

 

The post Little Scribblers Doughnut Art appeared first on Scribble Kids.

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13. Beauty and the brain

Can you imagine a concert hall full of chimpanzees sitting, concentrated, and feeling 'transported' by the beauty of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? Even harder would be to imagine a chimpanzee feeling a certain pleasure when standing in front of a beautiful sculpture. The appreciation of beauty and its qualities, according to Aristotle’s definition, from his Poetics (order, symmetry, and clear delineation and definiteness), is uniquely human.

The post Beauty and the brain appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Does anyone care about the artists on comics any more?

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Art by Jillian Tamaki. Story by Mariko Tamaki, from This One Summer

Yesterday’s retailer poll results, as revealed at Sktchd, made for fascinating reading, but at least one statistic—only 4.8% of retailers order a book based on the artist—got familiar questions being raised about why artists seem to get the short end of the stick so much in today’s comics industry. Declan Shalvey, currently of Injection, written by Warren Ellis, kicked some things off with a tweet and you can check his twitter feed for more conversation on the topic.

The decline of the artist has been getting a lot of play on the twitterverse of late, with Steve Morris also showing a watchful eye for it, even checking interviews to make sure they credit the artist.

Which to be fair, many times they do not.

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Art by Ivan Reis.

The entire “decline of the artist” phenomena has been discussed many times, sometimes at this very blog, and even by Sktchd’s Harper in the past. As I’ve said before, the decline of prestige for comics artists seems especially counterintuitive in an era which is so visually driven by Tumblr, Pinterest and the like. And given the past dominance of artists from Neal Adams on, it seems even odder. The beauty of the comics image has never been more prominent. But the makers of those images aren’t always given the credit they deserve. I have a few more thoughts, which I’ve expressed before but let me throw ’em out there again.

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Art by David Aja.

There’s a LOT of emphasis on cartoonists these days, the Rainas and Piskors who offer a tightly focused worldview and esthetic. And aside from the VERY rare Tamaki/Tamaki, Morrison/Quitely, Lee/Kirby teams, collaborative comics rarely offer that. I think if you were to ask graphic novel readers they might value the artist more, but might prefer the “creator” category.

Also, as we’ve all been saying, the Big Two, especially have been dead set on promoting the Editor-driven era of comics, and even the finest artists have been cogs in an ever grinding machine. Marvel had a few breakouts along the way, mostly on Hawkeye and Daredevil, but DC’s relentless parade of Jim Lee clones during the New 52 era reduced the role of the artist to interchangeable drone. And as fine an artist as Ivan Reis is, he’s no mold-breaking stylist.

The good news is, the Nü DCYou seems to have thrown house style out the window and allowed more idiosyncratic things to creep in. The bad news is Marvel’s new universe is starting to look as blandly homogenized as the New 52. Always a pendulum, this must be.

What do YOU think? Some wondered if casual readers would reflect the same ratios as retailers. With David Harper’s permission, I’ve recreated his questiosn in an open, public poll which will stay open for two days so hop to it! And as a final plug. Sktchd has a followup podcast with Patrick Brower, owner of Challengers in Chicago which I’m sure is worth a listen.

<a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/8992024/”>What’s the most important reason for you to buy a comic?</a>
<a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/8992024/”>What’s the most important reason for you to buy a comic?</a>

16 Comments on Does anyone care about the artists on comics any more?, last added: 7/22/2015
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15. Frida Kahlo’s Garden

Today I am feeling a very lucky girl. When I got home I had a book package on my front porch. It was the next review assignment from Library Journal and I am so very excited about it. The book? Frida Kahlo’s Garden. I had no idea Kahlo was a gardener but apparently she was a pretty good one, her and Diego both! How cool is that?

The book was published to go along with a show at the New York Botanical Garden called Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life. The show features Kahlo’s art but also garden displays inspired by her Casa Azul home and garden. I was very lucky a few years ago to get to go to a large exhibit of Kahlo’s paintings. Seeing them in a book is one thing, seeing them in person was an overwhelming experience and a number of them brought me to tears. If I lived anywhere near New York, I’d be making more than one visit to this painting and garden exhibit, that’s for sure! The show runs through November 1st and if you like Kahlo, I highly recommend a visit if you can swing it.

Anyway, the book is a lovely, large, hardcover, lots of photos, essays about Kahlo and her art and garden. I read the introduction and flipped through all the pages and my only critique at the moment is not enough photos of the garden and of the ones there are, not enough big ones in color. But then I am greedy and when I sit with the book for a while and read the essays and look more carefully at the photos the balance might turn out to be just right. I can still want more though!

Yes indeed, I’m a lucky girl.

On a side note, my apologies for not visiting many blogs lately. I have found myself in a really busy patch that I just can’t seem to get on top of. Hopefully it won’t last much longer and I’ll be able to make my usual rounds soon. Until then, bear with me!


Filed under: Art, Books, gardening Tagged: Frida Kahlo

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16. Comic-Con Surprise

Our staggeringly talented pal Chris Gugliotti (of Thicklebit fame) surprised us with this sketch at SDCC. I laughed until I cried. I always did want to fly the Millennium Falcon.

petersons

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17. “Keeping Kids AND Yourself Creative” – Sketchbook Skool Blog

 

“Melissa Wiley talks about keeping kids creative as they grow up and what this can also mean for our creative habits as adults.”
Source: Sketchbook Skool Blog

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18. SDCC ’15: How DC Made their 83,000 Brick Lenticular Superman v. Batman Lego Diorama

The official @batmanvsuperman just tweeted out a video of this ridiculous Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice diorama hanging over the show floor.  It’s a lenticular structure made of legos, and for those who didn’t buy comics in the 90s or play with dynamic Topps Pokemon stickers, lenticular art is basically something that changes based upon the angle you view it.

So, I bet you’re wondering how they did it.  2D lenticular art can be made by placing a special reflective plastic sheet over paper, by layering glass over an image, or by simply cutting and angling paper in a certain way.  This, obviously, doesn’t cover legos.

Behold the glory of YouTube:

Cool, right?

1 Comments on SDCC ’15: How DC Made their 83,000 Brick Lenticular Superman v. Batman Lego Diorama, last added: 7/11/2015
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19. All-New By Its Cover #5 (Covers For May 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).

Note: Apologies for the delay this month. I’ll try to get the next installment out super quick!

 

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Ninjak #3 by Lewis Larosa

Wow, that is an extreme perspective. The easiest way to make a composition feel dynamic is to have something in both the extreme foreground and in the background, and this has a single person existing in both. That is something.

The expectation that comic solicitations have some cover art to go with them means that artists are asked to create the art well in advance. When it comes to designers who are never quite happy with their designs, this means you can get a glimpse of their thought process when they tweak the cover before final publication.

NINJAK_combined

The layout on the left is pretty standard and boring. Using a drop shadow to separate the text from the image is a quick solution, but not very elegant and often a sign that the design just isn’t working yet. The image on the right is getting closer, but the glow around the logo is just as bad as the drop shadow, and is actually flattening out the art and ruining the illusion of depth.

The final printed version at top is clearly the best solution. Having the publisher logo and credits in the character’s hair feels a little bit weird maybe, but it works for me.

 

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Mythic #1 by John McCrea (A), Matteo Scalera (B), John McCrea (C)

I enjoy the concept of vertical logos and the design possibilities they open up. It’s just unfortunate that this one is nearly unreadable.

The two-color look of the cover above is really nice, but I think the composition could’ve been improved. It feels to me like the logo and image are fighting each other for focus. In particular, I’d try to move the head-in-hand out from under the logo and more into the upper corner where people might look first. Here’s a quick rough example of what I mean. It’s a little easier to make the image out now, right?

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I enjoy this composition slightly more because it has a foreground figure overlapping the logo, creating a dynamic sense of depth, and the vertical logo makes the vertical figure feel extra tall (at least to me). Again, if only it was readable.

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I’ve included this one just as an example of the worst aspects of both of the above covers. An interesting full cover image, but it’s being drowned out by the logo clumsily stamped on top of it. At the same time, the colors chosen for both the art and the logo are causing the logo to recede somewhat, which would make it harder to read if it wasn’t already unreadable. The other two variants are pretty solid, though.

 

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Arcadia #1 by Matt Taylor (above), Eric Scott Pfeiffer (below)Deep State cover

I absolutely love this logo box, and how it integrates the issue number and even the bar code into an interesting design. This logo is such a win (does anyone know who designed it?)

Unfortunately, the extra-busy cover art kind of clashes with the simple and stylish logo. Matt Taylor’s collage of lines worked really well last month with the lock theme of his Deep State cover, but here it seems like it’s more actively obscuring the art than just adding texture. And I feel like the the logo would work better with art that’s simpler and more open.

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This is my favorite of the Arcadia variants, a rare example of a comic being printed without any text on the front cover. Which I’m a huge fan of, because it reminds me of the glory days of rock album cover design. Even better, the concept of this image even looks like something that might be photographed as a rock album cover.

My one problem with this design is that the space below the bed seems like its just screaming out for a logo or text of some sort. White space is great for leading the eye around, but this is a case where the art feels a little unbalanced, like it needs a thing under the bed to balance it out. In case I sound like a crazy person to some of you, here’s a quick rough example of how I might rebalance the image without adding text. all I did was “zoom in” on the bottom half of the image. Do you see what I mean about the balance working better?

 

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Ghosted #20 by Dan Panosian

Speaking of rock album covers, this looks so metal. Even the treatment of the logo would work for an album cover. “R.I.P,” the new album from Ghosted.

The one thing that bugs me a little is the flower pedals touching the bottom of the frame. I kind of want just empty space all around the image so that you focus into the image and stay there, without being led out of the image through the bottom. Rough example — do you see what I mean?

 

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Fight Club 2 #1 by David Mack

I love the concept of this illustration, representing Tyler “waking up” while the narrator remains oblivious. I just wish the text around it had been placed better. ‘Some imaginary friends never go away” is a nice way to sum up the story, but its so hard to see here, it might as well not be there at all. And I’d rather the Fight Club 2 logo had been centered horizontally on the same background color as the illustration, rather than the so-so trade dress block that’s been designed.

 

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Divinity #4 by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic

This is a great example of an illustration where having a tiny minimalist logo really works. We’re focusing in on the distant character (with dramatic lighting behind him just to accentuate him that much more), and the logo is right there. Compare to this variant, where the logo placement just doesn’t work at all.

 

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Heart In A Box #1 by Merideth McClaren

Wow, this is striking. The large field of white surrounded by darker colors draws our eye in, and the field in question is a word balloon with a character speaking…an image of a heart (plus the issue number). What does it mean? I don’t know, we should find out by reading it.

My one critique would be that the heart is so busy. The white areas had me wondering if something more was going on, like if it was being pulled apart or something? It would’ve been less confusing if all the pieces of the hard had been colored red, no white negative sections. Or maybe even simplified a little.

 

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Dead Drop #2 by Raul Allen

This is the sort of cover I was saying would’ve worked better with that Arcadia logo. Simple and graphical. The speeding police car and the money flying away tells a slice of a story without even having to show us (presumably) the car being chased. There’s a great sense of movement, and yet the police car also feels like it’s a piece of the logo. Are the people running inside the logo necessary? Not at all, but they don’t hurt it, either.

 

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Trees #9 by Jason Howard

It’s a little mean for me to put this cover right after the last one, but I wanted to show how they coincidentally had a similar layout and similar movement in the same month of comics. But instead of a dramatic chase, this one conveys the feeling of being drowned.

The main problem with it (other than being placed right below Dead Drop, which looks a little more refined as an illustration) is that the bubbles floating upward don’t look much like bubbles. I wondered briefly if the bubbles were maybe transforming. Imagine if the one up top looked like a butterfly escaping, and what that might symbolize. But it’s not, it’s a sloppy group of bubbles.

 

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Ei8ht #4 by Rafael Albuquerque

I think this is the most successful Ei8ht cover yet in terms of the balance of space around the logo and how it relates to the main image. It’s also a nice contrast to go from the previous action images on a diagonal to a quiet, sad image on a diagonal. The large amount of black also helps a lot. The added contrast puts more focus on the white areas, which smartly includes the character on the bed.

 


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.

0 Comments on All-New By Its Cover #5 (Covers For May 2015) as of 6/29/2015 10:38:00 AM
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20. #illustration #wip for #mograph #animation- Space themed!



#illustration #wip for #mograph #animation- Space themed!



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21. Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying, by Samantha Snyder | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying, by Samantha Snyder. Giveaway begins July 1, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends July 31, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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22. Picture of Grace, by Josh Armstrong | Dedicated Review

Picture of Grace, by Josh Armstrong, is certainly moving and will be well received by families who are suffering or have suffered from loss.

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23. “And Then She Ate the Wolf: Volume 1″

NEW RELEASE!

New to Amazon…BUY TODAY!
covervolume1

BUY TODAY!

A touch of whimsy, dash of dark, and ample sarcasm, this edgy new series is to be enjoyed by adults, or rather, those who refuse to grow up.

There is much more going on behind my eye-catching character artwork from Instagram than mere captions have cited. I am excited to share the tales and backstory to each, and truly bring to life the people behind those big eyes life!

This art and short fiction just can’t be fully enjoyed squinted and crammed down to a micro-scale IG frame…now you can stop squinting, OPEN YOUR EYES and BUY TODAY!!

It delights me so to hear what you think, so kind readers, send the good, the bad, the twisty or ugly my way by way of review…

For those who enjoy…beware and be pleased this is only the first volume…

GET ‘AND THEN SHE SWALLOWED THE WOLF: VOLUME 1″ ON AMAZON TODAY!

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24. throwback....

to last WINTER and these two cuties....they put me in my HAPPY place! :)
'cause this girl has had ENOUGH of this rainforest-like climate and disgustingly high levels of humidity. i just was not made to handle such conditions. perhaps that is why i am known as the "ice princess" amongst my friends. WINTER is MY season! 

ahh, Mr. WINTER...how i miss you so. your pristine beauty from freshly fallen SNOW to clean, cold temps. i await you anxiously, my dear friend....overly anxiously perhaps....i digress. and with that being said...

these two bits of adorableness known as Alaska and her little buddy, Aspen can be found FOR SALE here. they are ORIGINAL PAINTINGS, NOT REPRODUCTIONS.

however, since i like to offer up choices, reproductions and other bits of deliciousness with these two featured can be found here and here as well.

why not get yourself in the WINTER spirit now?! i surely am every. single. day.

{i need to write/illustrate a kids book about the wonders of winter, i'm thinking....}

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25. Reviewing My Taiwan Trip Art Supplies: What Worked, What Didn't

Trying my hand at "splash ink"!
I call this "The Spirit of The One"
and I've pasted it to the back cover
of my sketchbook.
The shadow in the middle is
where I had to fold it to fit.
Rice paper, sumi ink, Derwent Inktense pencil. 9" x 12". 
Time certainly flies. It's been several months since I've been home from Taiwan, and I've now had a chance to start working on some larger art pieces based on my travel sketchbook. At the same time, I've also been rethinking my choice of travel art supplies, all in the search for the "perfect pack." 

(Note: If you'd like to see what I took with me, or just need a reminder, here's my post listing the art supplies I packed.) 

In retrospect, I think most of my choices were good; others were . . . well, here's my verdict:

1. I loved my Stillman and Birn Epsilon 6" x 8" sketchbook, but it definitely took some getting used to. This was the first time I'd bought this brand, and I didn't have time to try it out before I left home. Not that I wasn't forewarned. Prior to making my purchase, I did quite a bit of research on the company and its products, and the one online comment I kept reading from other artists was that any kind of watercolor tends to "swim" on top of the book's paper. 

It's difficult to explain, and I didn't understand what they meant, but "swim" is the right word for sure. Until I learned how to manipulate the amount of water I applied to the areas I had colored in with my watercolor pencils, I had to be careful not to flood the pages. For instance, one picture I drew of the nursery we visited morphed into what looks like a rotten smashed cauliflower. It makes for an interesting abstract, but all the detail I wanted (and had drawn) was lost. (And no, I'm not sharing that one with you. Just use your imagination.) 

I think the problem is that the paper isn't very absorbent, so water and/or paint tends to pool on it. However, once I got used to this, I actually grew to enjoy and used the effect to advantage. Stillman and Birn sketchbooks are now the only ones I plan to buy, especially as they make so many different types of books and papers for various media.

2. Regardless of brand, the sketchbook I chose had too many pages: 50 of them. And because they were of such good quality paper, I could sketch on both sides without any kind of bleed-through whether I used my inky brush pens (purchased during the trip), watercolor pencils, or water-soluble graphite. (The paper didn't buckle when it was wet, either.) But planning to sketch 100 pictures in 12 days was ridiculously ambitious. I came home with the book less than half-filled. (The extra pages weren't wasted since I kept sketching once I got home using Taiwan references from my own photos, museum guides, and magazines. Every page is filled now, but it did take a whole three months.) So the next time I buy a Stillman and Birn for travel, it will be the 25-page version. 

3. My Faber-Castell Art Grip watercolor pencils were the best. I liked the triangular shape, and the grippy surface really did work, keeping the pencils from slipping and making them very comfortable to use. Like my sketchbook choice, I've decided to stick with this brand for travel. The colors are rich and intense with excellent coverage--probably one of the reasons I initially had trouble judging the amount of water I needed to use with them.

I had also mentioned in my earlier post on the subject that I had limited my colors down to 7. Now that I've had time to reflect, I would have added 2 more: black and pink. Yes, pink! Usually I don't like to use black paint out of a tube, preferring to mix my own, but this was one situation where a black watercolor pencil would have worked well. Not only would it have imitated the black ink that makes Chinese painting so unique, but I think it would have been a good mix with my other colors to give me a few more subtle, sophisticated hues. 

As for needing a pink pencil, I think I wanted to use pink about twenty times a day. The only red I brought was "scarlet" (a Caran d'Ache sample I received at a color pencil meeting). It's a beautiful red, and it turned out to be just right for Chinese lanterns, but it was absolutely hopeless when it came to drawing Taiwan's magnificent orchids and other flowers. Pink also would have been very helpful for drawing sunrises and sunsets, as well as Hello, Kitty!

One benefit of using such a limited palette was that it did give a coherent appearance to my sketchbook, but from now on I'm bringing a standard tin of 12 colors--including black and pink.

4. I brought--and used--a water-soluble graphite pencil (another Caran d'Ache sample from that same meeting I attended), but in all honesty I didn't find it that important or useful. Once again, I wished I'd had a black pencil in its place. So I'd leave this one at home.

5. I wrote about my water brush disaster here. I was lucky that we had already planned to go to an art supply store on the same day it broke, but what if I'd been in the middle of the woods? Or stuck on a desert isle? You can't always just go to the mall. To prevent any future mishaps, I'll be carrying three brushes with me at all times: 1 medium round, 1 large round, and 1 flat. And I am never, ever going to fly with them assembled again. (They're probably even easier to pack when the brushes are separated from the barrels.) So, lesson learned the hard way, but at least now I know.

6. One of my favorite pieces of advice I read before I left home was to just open my sketchbook "anywhere" rather than draw in page-by-page chronological order (my usual style of doing things). The good side of this advice is that it really helped me to think of my sketchbook as a working tool and not as a sacred text. It also kept me from freaking out about the pages I hadn't filled because I didn't realize how many were blank until I got home!

The downside of this system, though, was that none of my pictures follow the route of the trip. And because I failed to date anything, the where and when of some of my sketches will forever be a mystery. Next time: date the drawings, and maybe jot down a note or two about the location.

7. What I didn't bring and desperately wanted: my pocket-size viewfinder. Too often I was overwhelmed by Taiwan's scenery: huge green mountains, giant Buddhas, vast blue seas, enormous city blocks that went on and on and on . . . much of the time I couldn't grasp or take in the size of it. A viewfinder would have made sense of the vista and helped me to find the right portion to sketch. It's an easy item to pack and one that would have made a big difference to my sense of perspective. Note to self: Pack viewfinder!

All-in-all, though, I was pleased with my little kit, especially as it encouraged me to cultivate and continue a daily art practice, one that's become as important to me as my daily writing. I often think writing and drawing come from the same source anyway: both are about telling stories, making sense of the world around us, and endowing our daily experiences with gratitude and meaning. Last year I even wrote a post about it: Art and Writing, Two Sides of the Creative Coin.

So while you're digesting that happy thought, here are a couple of intermediate pieces I've been working on for your entertainment. They're larger than my sketchbook pages, but still in the "idea stage" as I work toward finding my true Taiwan art voice:

9"x 12". Color pencil on hot press watercolor paper.
I had to add the washi tape when the masking tape
I used to keep the paper on my drawing board
tore the edges. Happy accident?

9" x 12". One of the many vistas from The One.
Derwent Inktense pencil 
on hot press watercolor paper.

Tip of the Day: It's summer! You really don't have to go as far away as Taiwan to start a sketchbook habit. Keep a handy sketch pack in your car, purse, or backpack and just . . . sketch! Ideas for stories, ideas for jewelry, ideas for collage--you don't have to be a professional artist to express yourself with pictures. Go for it.

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