Monday, December 25

The 4 Questions Quiz

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4 Jobs I've had:

Custodian... or how I got through college, truly a philosopher's profession
Custodian again... I had 17 different custodial routes actually... long dark hallways late at night
Tour guide...
Substitute teacher... started me thinking about art for children's books

4 Movies I could watch over and over

Jeeves & Wooster
Amadeus
Sense & Sensibility
Cold Comfort Farm
Or any movie with a pastoral estate basically... for escapism's sake.

4 Places I have lived (apart from where I live now)

Denver... that's where I grew up and it still seems as close to home as anywhere, though I've lived in Seattle longest.
2 Manhattans: Manhattan Kansas where I got a driver's license at age 13... and New York City's Manhattan, where I could lean out my window and see the Museum of Natural History down the street.
Washington D.C... that's where I went to high school. Fabulous museums! I'd bus down to the Mall every weekend...
Salt Lake City... that's where I got my degree in English. A part of the world that seems forgotten, fabulous and forbidding....

4 TV shows I love

The Reclaimers (history, travel, antiques & commerce)
Ask This Old House (useful information!)
Mystery... Morse, Miss Marple... anything tweedy & chintzy & intriguing with crunchy gravel drives
Seinfeld. Seinfeld's TV address (West 81st street) was just 2 blocks from my old NYC address.

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4 Places I have been for vacation:

Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park,
Banff, Lake Saranac, Arches, Zion, Escalante
Dinosaur National Park (rafting down the Green River)
Olympic National Park

Hmmm.... do I detect a pattern here?
I like wild places? I can't afford Paris?

4 Websites I visit every day:

I visit way more than that!

4 Favorite foods:

Cheerios
Mandarin oranges & green tea
Coffee
Salmonburgers with red onions
Anything easy to fix... preferably with a toaster.

4 Places I would rather be:

In a log cabin in the woods
In a log cabin by a lake or snow capped mountain
I always wanted to try one of those gated suburban Shangri-La's... just out of curiosity... island kitchen... decks galore... gigantic yard... 2 acre cedar roof... woods for my backyard.
A farmhouse in Tuscany or Bordeaux... 18th century preferably

Painting at the top is one I did about 10 years ago...

Tuesday, December 19

The Halcyon Days

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Here we have it, the famous windstorm of '06. You'll note that the 100 foot tree is snapped rather than uprooted. Just imagine the force that must have taken! 8 hours of non-stop tree-toppling-nerve-wracking-up all night wind. This was preceded by a deluge of 2" of rain for an hour which had me sweeping 200 gallons of water across my basement floor to the drain for 2 hours. It needed a good mopping. I'm lucky my power didn't stay off more than 20 minutes... since 1/4 of the city has gone 3 days in freezing temperatures without any electricity.

And today's main problem?... finding a parking spot at the shopping center... not to mention finding the elusive perfect gift.
Xmas! Such a pain! Who needs it?

Best rule I've discovered... "Buy the first thing you see". It works about the same actually. This whole Xmas illusion is created by advertising.

How about a Holiday devoted entirely to engaging in irritating and expensive tasks to be performed in overheated, overcrowded spaces... with a ticking deadline and multiple impossible obstacles to overcome before finally making it to the finish line whereupon in the emotional spotlight of the season one is rewarded with a feeling of personal failure and the impossibility of things being the way you'd wished they might be?

No wait... they already have a Holiday like that. They call it Christmas...
LOL! At least the brandy & eggnog ought to be spot on.

So there... Scrooge has spoken.

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Actually I'm very much looking forward to the timeless days of the Holiday. Working on a great new book... which will relish all the timeless days it can find.

The Halcyon Days, my favorite... that time between Xmas and New Years. The Halcyon Days encompass the fourteen-day period centered on the Winter Solstice when the sea is commanded to be calm and the wind light by none other than Aeolus, keeper of the winds and one of the lesser Greek deities.

Whew! I'm ready for that...

Tuesday, December 5

A Splendid Evening

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I had a splendid evening out at a recent gallery opening here in Seattle, which featured a small part of the gallery with illustrations by moi!

The Fountainhead Gallery on Queen Anne hill in Seattle was the location. A collected Holiday show of illustration by some local Northwest artists was the featured exhibit... up all this month. There were gorgeous paintings by Richard Jesse Watson from some of his recent books... including 'The Night Before Christmas'. I'd never seen any of his originals before, but the colors are quite stunning in real life. Published artwork can never quite match the originals... as I've discovered from personal experience. Also Jesse Watson junior was there, along with Pier Morgan and Max Grover, who couldn't make it in person. A great collection of local children's book artists.

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Anyhow, it was lots of fun to sign some of my books and generally hob nob with artists and patrons. I even sold one piece that night! What a nice surprise. I was very flattered just to be invited to particpate.

I'd love it if some day I could just paint on canvas and see my work hanging in galleries. I suppose it's just a matter of putting in the hours to make it all happen. But that's the problem with being a Sunday painter... usually I'm so tired from making images the other six days of the week, by the time Sunday rolls around I'd rather do anything else but make more pictures. Then there's the additional problem of getting spoiled by all the fun of sloshing paint just for fun without jumping through all the hoops of doing an illustration. Makes coming back to the drawing board a challenge sometimes.

Oh well.. some day maybe...

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Tuesday, November 28

A November to Remember

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Snow! Laugh if you will... 1/2" of snow... not much really, but it's enough to bring this city to a screeching halt. The streets are icy... even the FedEx truck isn't making neighborhood pickups, and that's the first time I've known that to happen ever! Too many hills, nary a snowplow or sanding truck to be found anywhere. Since it only snows here once every two years or so it's best to just stay indoors I guess.

But at least it's bright and sunny...

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It's been a November to Remember. First off, there was the non-stop rain for days... the most rain for any month since record keeping began (14" and counting). Then snow... and now the deep freeze. It really does make one stop and ask... what exactly was the problem with global warming again? Imagine if it was the next Ice Age setting in, instead of global warming.... brrrr!

It's a chore just keeping the hummingbird feeders unfrozen... one has to bring them indoors to melt the ice, while the hummers sit there awaiting the return of their chow.

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The artwork is from a couple of books of mine. One was a Korean story, which I wrote, about a cherry tree throughout the seasons, titled 'My Cherry Tree'. The other picture is from another story of mine.

Monday, November 20

Timeless

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I had a fun trip to the amazing Seattle Public Library (designed by Rem Koolhaus) to do some research on a project I'm working on.

Just visiting this ultra modern library seems like an amazing trip to the future. But then looking 100 years into the past at some old magazines from 1907 was equally entertaining. It's fun doing the basic research on a historical subject... getting all the detailed first hand pieces of the puzzle.

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Astonishing to see all the things that have changed and all the things that haven't changed. But then I could spend years just browsing through old forgotten journals. It's the same experience that I hear archaeologists talk about, how they're so excited to think no one has seen the artifacts they're digging up for thousands of years. Well I'm sure there's very few people looking into Educator Shoes either!

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I think one of the main joys in being an historian is dwelling in that timeless space of the imagination... to read an article and think that no one else has read this article in 100 years. No doubt it's the same motivation that helps to drive the archaeologist.

I was particularly amazed to see how contemporary the children's illustration from 1907 looks. It seems almost as if it could as easily have been done in 2006 as 1906.

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Sunday, November 12

One Heck of a Thumpin', Brownie!

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Need I say more?

I noticed lots of chipper looking liberals out and about here in Seattle on Wednesday morning. I suppose being a die-hard liberal and being a freelance illustrator can be similarly vexing at times.

It's not too hard to develop a 'complex' when practicing either of those avocations... after years of overcoming rejection and fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. And likewise, hope can be born anew with just enough patience.

Got to enjoy it when the light of reason finally breaks through the clouds of ignorance though! Wahooo!

:0)

Monday, November 6

Toiling in the fields of imagination

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The idea struck. It all started with an antique postcard in a shop.

Or maybe it was the combination of leftover halloween candy and coffee that sent me spiraling off into a galaxy of imaginary wanderings. I started writing like crazy... toiling away like a peasant in the field of imagination. Inspired saturday morning... written out 80% by saturday night... basically finished in 10 hours of clicking the keyboard by sunday afternoon.

It was one of those ideas that had been pent up for months and years, rattling around. Then it finally all fell into place.

Once inspiration strikes, I'm basically shackled like a prisoner... and happily so. I wouldn't have it any other way. Everyday life is totally boring compared to being swept up in a fun idea.

One feels a bit like Crusoe on his Island, with one last scrap of paper and one last bottle and cork and bit of pencil. One last chance to save this idea for posterity. I think writing really does seem more lasting than illustration in that regard. Shakespeare is born anew with each new edition... but aged illustrations start to fade.

All that's left is the toiling in the next vast field of creativity known as 'illustration'. But that's more likely the funnest end of the equation, even if it does take longer. The story on it's own is the script to the play. It's the illustration that adds the magic, the lighting, the music, the characters, the scenery, to make it all come alive.

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Lucky for me I was born a peasant and as the saying goes... 'Work is the opium of the masses'.

This blog's picture isn't at all from my new idea but it's about the closest thing I have. Folk art... farms... barns...

Monday, October 30

Happy Halloween

halloween

Almost that day already... and I don't think I've even bought any candy yet.

Oh well, since anyone knocking on my front door has to climb up about 17 steps... it kind of cuts down on the trick or treaters. So the smart child knows that to maximize their trick or treating, it makes more sense to work the other side of the street, where there are no steps to slow them down. It always seems like fewer and fewer little goblins come around every year.

This illustration appeared in Owl Magazine a couple years ago. It was one of those assignments that was just perfect to do. Can't hardly go wrong with Halloween.

Wednesday, October 25

Jazzzy!

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It all started innocently enough with a new idea... (which I got while watching TV of all places). But it turned out really Jazzy!

Now I've finally got some samples of that new inspiration that I mentioned last week.
What are styles? They're like music I think. That'd be a good analogy.

Most of my artwork is quieter and more subtle... woodwinds, violins & violas... an acoustic guitar.

But this new line idea came out all saxophones and trumpets. It's very brassy and unpredictable and Jazzy. Mostly it's the black line that's so strong and works against the bright colors and patterns. The line looks great just all by itself. It occurred to me I ought to try some displaced cubist color blocks behind the line too.

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I'll still keep my quiet and charming illustrations... but it's good to improvise and go really wild sometime. Loosening up is hard to do and good for an artist I think.

Jazz is very appropriate for this style, since it's really a reflection of illustration styles from the 1950's.

I think lots of today's styles hearken back directly to the 50's. I'm amazed when I see old 1950's movies on TV that the clothing and hairstyles and glasses all seem so contemporary. It also makes it hard to find a pair of round eyeglass frames in a world of all square styles.

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Sunday, October 22

Feeling Bearish

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I knew exactly what was inside that fat envelope on the back steps. It weighed about a pound and it could only be one thing. It was half a dozen issues of the November Ladybug Magazine and I'd been thinking about it lately... wondering how it was going to have turned out.

Anyhow the printed version came out just as I had hoped. I guess it's like waiting for the final results of an experiment... only you have to wait 5 months. This painting involved real pencils, photoshop, the Epson 2200, Arches 140lb CP watercolor paper, real paints & pens & pencils, my Umax scanner and more Photoshop. It sounds complicated, but it's really lots quicker than just plain painting. And with much more control at every step.

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Although I generally think it's best to forget any project as soon as it's sent off to the publisher and move on the next... its nice when you're pleased with the final printed version. Especially when you're a Style Hound like me who's dreaming up a whole new style about every 7 days. Hey... it's not my fault... Photoshop and my Scanner made me do it! Those two can be very seductive and persuasive.

Must be this bracing autumnal air that energizes one's imagination. Or maybe it's time to hibernate...

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Friday, October 20

Undreamt-of in Previous Philosophies

oink

Oh dear... time for the brown paper bag again!

Why? Because sometimes art just gets too exciting for it's own good... that's why. Just breathe into that brown paper bag until one calms down. Making art can be exciting! Sometimes a collusion of unexpected events coalesces to form new possibilities undreamt of in our previous philosophies.

I suppose it's okay when you have those breakthrough moments... but they can be unkind to one's sense of balance and planned out momentum. They just happen on their own and take their own direction. Anyhow, everything fell into place exactly as I had hoped. Ain't that grand when that happens?

Often those months of brooding and unease can be the most productive of all. Though to all outward appearances one might appear to be an idle good for nothing... in fact inside the artistic spirit is metamorphosing into something new... something never before possible... something no conscious effort of the will could have forethought.

The Pig is from a story of mine... as yet unshown to any editor. What do editors matter? He's got nothing to do with my paper bag either. He's just a big Pig... though I still like his story a lot. Knock on wood and all that... Oink! Oink! Oink!

Thursday, October 12

Ask not what your software can do for you...



'Ask not what your software can do for you... ask what you can do with your software'. These immortal lines were recently typed by John Shelly, an online artist acquaintance who lives in Japan, though he's an englishman. I think that line neatly sums up the entire issue of digital art and what and who it's good for.

I'm of the persuasion that digital software is great... but not an end in itself. I still think the lowly pencil rules. And I'm afraid I'm even largely in the camp of preferring the look of traditional mediums of paint and ink and pencils on the rough surface of watercolor paper and all the variations they can achieve. Something to do with the complexity of the surface or maybe it's just conditioning. I read a quote from Seymour Chwast to the effect of "the computer is a great place to process art, but a difficult place to create art". I know what he meant, I think. I still like my pencil on paper the best.

In any event, I'm lucky I can do either one... or both... and happily. The picture at the top is from 'One Smart Cookie'. Maybe, people might wonder... "HOW did he do that?". Clue: It's all painted on real watercolor paper. Trade secret! LOL!

InDesign has been one of my newest discoveries. I think they ought to call it 'Dummymaker'. What fun to piece together a book like this... saving scads of time and with unbeatable flexibility. Need a different page size? Takes 2 minutes to resize the book. Need a new font?... click, click, click. All done. I find the buffing is really where it's at with InDesign. By 'buffing' I mean the ability to fine tune each page to match the image. It's quite a different experience from just writing everything in one text document.

All the same things can be done with just photoshop alone, except one would lack the ability to print out multiple pages and scroll through a story with ease. Anyhow, I'm always playing around with new techniques... figuring out what new things I can do with my software.



Ah... yes, the spark plugs. With the Cookie's help I too have recently replaced the plugs, wires and distributor cap on the trusty volvo. It's always so empowering to fix something so it's like new again. All it takes is overcoming ignorance... and a few tools really.

And of course, without a car, one could not go on autumnal drives through the bucolic countryside... savoring the pleasures of the season. Cows, pumpkins, barns, rivers, wooded hills, bridges, cornfields... all the usual stuff.

Tuesday, October 3

Inspiration is Mysterious



"Cookie spent lots of time in the library. He read books about pirates, rocket ships, and dinosaurs. Detective stories were his favorites."

That's one of my favorite lines in 'One Smart Cookie'. I'm so glad it didn't get edited out since it doesn't really carry the plot too much, but there's just something about it. Maybe it's important because it shows Cookie getting lost in a book... filling his doggy head with knowledge about the the world around him. I guess I wanted to point out the riches that can be found in a library... and in this particular case it took the family pet to discover them.

Anyhow, it all started one morning when I read a title to an online post in a business forum. The post title was 'Good read, Dog'... and that was all it took. Something connected in my brain in a way I'd never have been able to predict, inspiring the story that shortly became 'One Smart Cookie'. Twenty minutes later most of it was all written out.

Most of my stories happen about like that. Just a single word or phrase that sets me off and it's almost like I'm jotting it down as fast as I can after that. But turning this story into a real book took much longer. I've got dozens and dozens of stories all written out... that's the easy part.



To wit... here's the chronology of 'One Smart Cookie' since it's odd beginnings:

1999: wrote original story inspired by the title to an internet post
1999: did a rough dummy and sent it out to three houses
2000: had a favorable response from one editor who suggested it needed more development and a different ending.
2001: rewrote ending and resubmitted... never heard back.
2001 - 2005: September 11th sort of brought everything to a total stop. I never did hear back from the first editor.
2005: I finally decided I'm never going to see this book in print if I don't just start sending it around again.
2005: reworked the dummy with InDesign... using same art but used a different and more sophisticated packaging. InDesign works wonders for dummies!
2005: sent out story to publisher A ... waited 5 months... not quite right for them.
2005: sent out story to publisher B... sold in 1 week!
2005: was given 6 months to do finish art. Worked through Christmas Holidays, which is about par for a freelance illustrator.
2006: delivered finish art.
2006: finally appears in print!

So... in this line of work, instant gratification it's NOT!

I don't know if I've done a blog post about InDesign, but I ought to. It's the greatest software ever for putting together a book dummy.

Friday, September 29

Every dog has his day...



Every dog has his day... even me! Now what should happen the other day but the UPS truck stops by and drops off a mysterious package.

And what's in this mysterious package? Mysterious and mysteriouser it gets as I open it up. First I was thinking its a bunch of corrections to a project I'm working on. But instead I see it's from Highlights for Children, but I wasn't expecting anything from them. And Lo & Behold... there's a fancy box inside, not just filled with paperwork... but in fact there's a silver plate with engraving on it! WHAT?!! Amazment and confusion take over as I try to figure out what it might be.

Turns out it's a brushed steel plate with my name engraved on it as 'Illustrator of the Month' for my Squealy Scholar artwork that I recently did (and posted about in the last post)! Imagine that! Me... a prizewinner! LOL! I have to say, my first reaction to all this was mostly embarrassment and it all made me want to run and hide.

But now I'm thinking it was actually nice to get some kind of silly little plaque so I can at least say I won something during the course of my long and prize-free career. Anyhow... no further congratulations required.

My book 'One Smart Cookie' was officially released yesterday. Go Cookie! I had a party all by myself. I think being one of the distant shut in creative vendors in the publishing industry is almost like being invisible lots of times. I don't think wanting to be recognized out of the invisibility is about ego at all. It's just about being recognized in terms of no longer being invisible. I mean if you're trying to make a living selling art and ideas, it's helpful to be able to have a little visibility... just so you can punch your timecard at least.

I keep planning to do some posts about Cookie... but I keep putting it off. I was thrilled to discover www.jacketflap.com the other day. What a great resource for having most all of the publishing world all in one site! Now maybe more than 6 people will stop by my blog.



I finally broke through and wrote out a great little story this morning that had been a simmering for a year or more in bits. I think writing works like that for me. All the parts are there, unconnected mostly... but it requires some alignment of the stars to coalesce it all into a written form. Anyhow, it was a delight and fun and who knows, maybe it'll go somewhere. Of course stories are hard to judge. When they're brand new, they seem spectacular... and contrarily, after you've polished them for a year you can't hardly tell anymore if they're really great or just rubbish.

If I could only get the pictures done as fast as the words.

Sunday, September 17

Cartwheeling down the back steps...


Finally it's rained again in Seattle! I know how ironic that must sound to anyone who probably thinks of this town as the rain capital of the world. In fact it rains as much in New York as Seattle... it's just here it takes all winter long and in the summer we often never get a drop.

This has been the driest summer on record here, with just 1/4" rain between April and the middle of September. In other words it only rained once all summer. The lawns turn brown and crunchy and no one bothers to water them. Even some of the old maple trees on my street looked like they were drying up and dying.

I find my brain cannot connect two consecutive thoughts when it's over 80 degrees in the dog days of late summer. Summer was great but thank gosh it's raining again. Rain = Life for me.

I've recently proven out a theory I had that all an illustrator needs to continue working are eyes to see with and just the drawing arm from the elbow down on one's drawing hand.

I've been recovering from a backwards cartwheel down the kitchen steps and landing on the concrete walkway. And no, it wasn't a fall off the ladder pictured in last month's blog, in case you're guessing. Amazingly I didn't break my neck and even more amazingly I could still manage to do illustration, since my right arm still worked. That's all we really need to keep working, after all... eyes to see with and just from the elbow down on our drawing hand.

My body throbbed with pain for about a week. I could only hobble up and down steps one at a time. But I could still draw. But now I'm almost all better. I read that Dylan Thomas always needed to have something wrong with him... a broken foot, a cane to walk with, anything so that he had limits.



This month's illustrations are from a magazine piece I did for Highlights.

I recently found out through on an online friend that these little spots had been turned into an online animated poem with music. People seem to enjoy what Highlights did with it... they must have clipped out the main piggy character and added in the missing bits of the background, and then used a program to add the motion and music and voiceover.

www.highlightskids.com/Stories/AudioStories/Sept06_squealyScholar.asp

If that link doesn't work, you can just Google the term 'Squealy Scholar' and that brings up a link.

Friday, August 25

The Cookie Has Landed!


Yes... it's that time again... time to add to the blog.

I have a suspicion I've made blogging too hard, or maybe I just don't have quite the knack for chatting away about the simple things.
Be that as it may, I've been lazy to boot. AND I've been painting the house (as seen in the photo)... and need to paint even more of the house before summer is over. Very satisfying thing, painting boards out of doors from the clarifying heights of a ladder. Just don't look down! That's the secret to working at heights.



Same thing with freelancing... 'don't look down'. By that I mean don't stop and think too much since it's usually best to just get on with it.

Thank gosh for second coats of paint! The beauty of the second coat of matching paint is that one needn't agonize over all the edging... which really can drive a person crazy when you're bending over into a pretzel twist at a height of 25 feet and leaning over backwards trying to make a perfect edge of grey against white paint. No need to be perfect with the second coat... just an approximation will do.

Hooray for Cookie! Yes, the first copies of 'One Smart Cookie', written & illustrated by moi have arrived. So I had my own little party to celebrate and took these photos. Can't wait to see if anyone takes notice... which of course is the dilemma of just about every artist and author I suppose. I think it ought to be a great little book for schools. It's got some fun classroom scenes and deals with the essence of books and schools... that is to say reading.

Anyhow, it's fun having dozens of copies of the Cookie around. I'm quite pleased with how it came out, considering the deadline for finish art and all. It's fun to see the printed book right alongside the original pencil sketches on my desk. It was really odd to come across a pencil sketch for one of the characters that I had drawn on vellum and to then put that right over the finished printed book and see how they matched! Just like magic.

More about the Cookie later.

Sunday, July 23

Trip to the Seaside






Nothing like a trip out to the seaside. One of my favorite spots in Puget Sound is Fort Casey at Ebey's Landing up on Whidbey. Great views and a great beach.

Don't forget to pack that Julien oil painting easel for the landscapes!

Thursday, June 15

Strawberries & Landscapes





Not been blogging lately... life's been too complicated. And I've started another blog Lost in the Paint, for just my paintings on canvas.

Meanwhile, it's June-uary here in the Pacific Northwest. That's when it looks like March out the window only it's actually warm outside. Just takes a slight mental leap to overcome the gloom and tell yourself it must be summer because the roses are in bloom. Strawberries too... but I suppose there's strawberries everywhere more or less.

True summer begins here July 5th... since July 4th is notorious for raining all day.

Had a great time working up a new technique using paint and photoshop. This illustration is done using that technique... and the bear's doing what I'm busy doing... eating berries. it's that time of year.

This technique is just a minor progression and refinement of my earlier ventures into that zone. Quicker and more control of details... what's not to like?

Mmmmmm..... authentic farm fresh strawberries, sold in a little seasonal farm stand nearby. Although Washington state is famous for it's cherries, I much prefer the strawberries.

Wednesday, May 24

Art is funny that way....



Freelancing & Art... now there's a potent combination of subjectivity.

I think life as a freelancer... selling art and ideas, leaves many more shady grey areas in the balance of rationality than some other professions might.

Just dealing with the artwork itself can seem like temporary insanity. It's because it's all so subjective.

For instance it's quite common for an artist to finish a piece of art and think it's totally perfect... only to realize 2 weeks later that they wish they had painted it a bit differently. Luckily, it can also work the other way... and you decide a painting is really much better than you first thought.

It's very perplexing when subjectivity shifts from week to week.

I read a story from an artist friend who hated how a painting was going, so she tossed it on the floor and stomped on it. Three days later she picked it back up and decided it was one of her favorite paintings ever. It turned out to be her favorite painting in the entire book.

Then there's the classic artist joke: There once was an artist who was staying as a guest at the house of an old friend. One of the artist's paintings, done 30 years before was hanging over the mantle. In the middle of the night, noises were heard downstairs. The host fearfully crept down the stairs to investigate.

There in the living-room was the artist... up on a stepladder, lantern and paintbrush in hand, putting the last correcting touches to his painting from 30 years ago!

Tell me that's not half crazy... but I KNOW exactly where that story is coming from.

Anyhow, so that's just the Art part. Next comes the Freelancing part, which is equally subjective and unpredictable.

That's where you have anywhere from 0 to 5 clients all calling and setting different overlapping deadlines. All totally unpredictable as the freelancer tries to juggle time and the projects they're working on. That can drive you nuts too. And it's sometimes hard to tell which is worse... having 5 clients or not having any.

In any event, the little painting above is from one of my unpublished stories. It's about a Painter who gets lots of advice about just how he ought to be painting.

Saturday, May 20

A wonderfully printed book...



I just got my copies of a book I did for Usborne, 'The Dragon Painter' and I'm very pleased with the print quality. In fact I'd go so far to say that it's most likely the best packaged and printed book I've ever done the artwork for.

It means so much to an artist to have their work presented the way they painted it... as often that's not the case.

But I have to say, on this book the printing is just perfect... it has sewn bindings and they did a wonderful job of everything... even the endpapers. And a real first, there's even a little satin red ribbon bookmark that comes with the book.

I was very pleased to see how my digital/real media techniques seemed to print up very nicely too. Believe me, it's not every book that leaves the artist so pleased with the printed copy.

It was a fun story, a folk tale, about a painter who paints dragons that come to life.
I had a great time doing the research for all the chinese decor. I found the Emperor in a book about an ancient chinese gardens. I had to make sure I changed the pattern of the designs on the clothing, since I have no way of knowing what they might actually mean or say in ancient chinese!

I previously uploaded some of the artwork from this book back in January.

Saturday, May 6

Miles & Piles of Ideas



Ideas... what would we do without them?

Probably we'd be a lot happier... only dumb and happy. Sort of like my cat I imagine, an enviable state of being for sure. Nap time 22 hours a day with breaks for breakfast and dinner.

However, one of the drawbacks of being an artist or writer is that you're always hatching ideas. Most of them just vanish and get replaced by the next idea. But sometimes they're ideas you just have to write down.

The back of the grocery list is one place I've often resorted to, when struck by an idea out shopping. The backs of brouchures... any kind of paper. Then when I get home I toss those ideas into my idea pile... where they collect dust as I busy myself making a living drawing pictures to demanding deadlines.

Every now and then I pick some sketches out... and maybe work them into a book or project.



Anyhow, above is a photo of my idea pile. It's fun to blow the dust off the top and leaf through the dozens of story leads and drawing inspirations in there. I keep these piles like treasures... I know there's at least half a dozen stories in there and it's always good for new directions and inspirations.