January 28, 2010

'Dear James - Letters to a Young Illustrator'

Lunch is always best eaten standing up... at least that's the way I do it. After having been sitting down all morning, it just makes sense.

Today's lunch was also prepared whilst crouched over the toaster. Even though the first camellias have opened their bright pink petals, the weather is on the freezing side. Huddling over the glowing coils of the toaster with the heavenly scent of baking herb bread brings out the writer in me.

I've finished reading the great book, 'Dear James - Letters to a Young Illustrator' by R.O. Blechman. It's sort of the illustrator's equivalent of the E.B. White book 'Elements of Style'. It is chock full of spot-on observations about illustration and publishing and art directors and all... like these:

"I think it's such a disservice to the public that galleries and museums display only artists' successes, but never their failures. There should be a Museum of Failed Art. It would exhibit all the terrible art that would have ended up in trash bins and garbage cans, lost and unknown to the public. My museum would give a true picture of the artist's life and provide much consolation to fellow artists."

"You'll find that getting a commission puts you on the fast and easy track. You're given a format, a subject, a deadline, so your boundaries are set. How much more difficult it is to self-start a project! You can get overwhelmed with possibilities, like a car whose engine is too flooded to start."

I guess the part that bothered me is the ending though, where Blechman felt like he was done in by digital art and the changing tastes in illustration. I wonder if every illustrator is destined to end up like last week's newspaper?... done in by changing tastes and the endless quest for novelty?

January 15, 2010

Advantages of Digital Art

I suppose the whole world is going digital. I like the ability to quickly make changes in digital art. For instance this is a revision to the last image from the previous blog post. You'll notice how many things were changed.

I'm pleased with this new style which I've developed over the last summer. It's quick, flexible, manages to incorporate line and has bright high-key colors. And I like the details too.

January 14, 2010


Sketching: Writing refinements to some new stories. It's always good when you wake up and find that new idea that seems like the missing key. I stumble along in the dark until that key is found.

Drinking: Costa-Rican blend. My favorite cup of coffee is when it's just started to percolate... and only half done. At that point the subtlety of the coffee bouquet is sublime.

Looking forward to: Sunshine! (it rained instead)

Working on: About 3 different things simultaneously.
* New finish samples from the new book to be used as a mailer
* A school flyer for drumming up some school visits
* Reworking three new story ideas... (whittled down from about five)

Reading: 'Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman' by Margaret Forster. A book I can scarcely put down. I've never read such an insightful description of what it's like to be a writer.

January 11, 2010

Artists are supposed to be fickle...

It is an artist's prerogative to be forever changing their minds.

I know I drive my spouse crazy with my tendency to change plans on a whim. But what can I say? Artists are supposed to be fickle and difficult to live with...

I had fun redoing my old blog at last. The new features are great... can't wait to find some fun Blogger apps to add.

January 7, 2010

Spring in the Northwest

Drinking: Just plain old whole bean coffee for me... Costa Rican ~ French Roast, please!

Delighted: I was delighted to discover some new (for me) natural media photoshop brushes. I don't know why I didn't try using these years ago. I see all sorts of new approaches to a more painterly style possible.

Weather: No snow here... and the sun is out and it's very spring-like. Mostly because it's a brand new year and the Holidays are over. Usually I declare spring shortly thereafter. There are lots of little green shoots poking up.

Amazed: I was amazed to discover that there is a beaver lodge right here in the neighborhood! Yes indeed... wild beaver on the shores of Lake Washington, right in the middle of Seattle.

We had heard accounts of them slapping their mighty beaver tails at sunset and we once saw one swim past in the daytime. They're nocturnal and very secretive. Oddly, their den is right beside a sewer outlet too...

I think it's nice that there are still wild places like that around in the city still. Here's a photo of the beaver lodge... notice the green shoots too.

Reading: Margaret Forster: Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman. I think I'll probably wind up reading every one of Margaret Forster's books. It's telling when you can read any page and it seems like it was written just for you.

Drawing: Pencils to a new book with Northwest scenes in abundance.