Saturday, December 6, 2008

A matter of time

Today was Chemers Gallery's annual Children's Book Illustrators' Show. As always, the artwork was amazing, as were the illustrators. The books illustrated by these artists are really beautiful. But to see the original pieces is even more wonderful. The printed art always pales in comparison.

In chatting with the artists, the topic invariably turns to "how long does it take you to...." fill in the blank: do the preliminary sketch, produce the final piece, do a whole book. Illustrator Zachary Pullen shared that it takes him many months to design and finish all the pieces for a book. And then he talked about a recent editorial piece he did for a major national newspaper - he was given exactly 24 hours to get the final work into their hands. Of course, being the professional that he is, it was accomplished.

So I guess I am not the only one whose rate of production is exactly equal to the amount of time available. While I tend to work slower when given a long deadline, I know I can speed things up when I have to. This piece, which I'm pretty happy with, was done in about an hour.

Today's inspired resolution: work fast!

Friday, October 24, 2008


I have been working on a couple of children's stories. It has been a very interesting process as I am usually wrapped up in pictures rather than words. Words are an entirely different animal.

While I can get a handle on the story and plot, and I begin to understand the characters (here are a couple of new ones), putting it into words requires a whole new skill set.

To a certain degree, though, I find that tapping into the emotional center of a child's world feels the same whether I'm looking for just the right word or making just the right image. It seems both sides of my brain recognize authentic when I am lucky enough to stumble across it.

Unfortunately, luck comes in small, infrequent doses. So I write and rewrite and share with critique buddies and rewrite again. I have to believe that practice will help make . . . better.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Always in style

This new piece was great fun to do. It was submitted to SCBWI's recent contest "Lab Mayhem." (Yay! It got an honorable mention!) I often get ideas for color palettes from unlikely publications. Thank you, Vogue, for inspiring a purple chimp!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Characters are great fun to draw. Here are a few recent ones. If I silence my subconscious art director, they develop much more unique features.

Once the face is on the page, its like looking at someone I'm meeting for the first time. "Hello, who are you?" I wonder about their life history, who they really are, where they came from. And so they change from just an interesting face into a real character.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I am a traditionalist, preferring pencil and paper over mouse and computer when making art. It is a personal preference based on my affinity toward the tactile experience. (These quick graphite sketches from life were done on a wonderfully toothy manila paper.) I do not dislike digital art. On the contrary, there are some amazing images being produced digitally. It's just not my medium of choice.

In a recent conversation about storing images digitally, it was mentioned that images generated several years ago using the technology available at the time have been found to have degraded over the years. In some cases, the software that generated the original art is obsolete. I wonder how the digital community is ensuring work will be still be able to be viewed decades, or centuries, from now.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I'm taking a couple of drawing classes. These are some quick sketches from the animal and wildlife illustration class. Figurative drawing is such sweet torture! I really love the physical part, from the feel of the paper to making a really free flowing line. The rapid sketching, capturing the movement and spirit rather than dwelling on the details, is wonderfully satisfying.

It's the mental part - is it right? why not? what happened to the spirit of the figure? - that fights with the pleasure my hand feels. I know the more I do this, the better my hand will perform.

Fortunately, no matter how good the drawing might eventually get, my brain will always be dissatisfied, at least a little. No complacency allowed!