January 31, 2011

Why the eraser was invented...

It's amazing how many odd things one notices once the paint starts going on. Who'd have guessed I attached the harness to the wrong side of the horse-drawn sleigh?

Once I painted a scene and I put two hats on the character. One on his head and one in his hand! No one noticed until the book appeared in print!

This is why the eraser was invented.

It's quite true that I probably erase almost as much as I draw. That comes from being a perfectionist, although in my sights I'd say perfection is only a distant hope.

January 26, 2011

Crayons & Questions

When it all comes down to it, what does an artist even have to call their own? I'd guess what an artist has is a sense of themselves as an artist... which really isn't much.

Once I thought it'd be interesting to write down a list of the job attributes that an artist could list. What would an artist put on their job description?

Ability to draw
Knowledge of perspective
Knows how to use color

I once applied for a job at Disney. The real stickler was the application where they asked about my last employer. Since it was more than 15 years ago at that time it all seemed absurd. Luckily I didn't get the job.

Pretty nebulous stuff. But the mystery of it is that somehow the marks left on a page can actually communicate a feeling or information. Too many things that are too hard to define. That's what I think.

No doubt it'd be easy to find artists that fail to fill many of these basic parameters, but they're still amazing artists. So I guess it all boils down to the ability to decide things for one's self to discriminate to say I like this, this and this... but not this.

Sure anyone can pick up a pencil and draw. But in fact it's taken me decades to know how to draw a simple face. What to put in... what to leave out. It's harder than it looks. Difficult to fit into a job description. I think in fact every time we put out a new book it's like another job application. Our portfolios are our resumes.

Sometimes it's best to just get out the crayons and color... and not try to think.

January 20, 2011

Painting!... at last the FUN begins!

Here's a clip from a new book which is finally approved to go to finish art. Painting!... at last the FUN begins!

I'm having tons of fun with scanned textures and art brushes. The new computer makes it all so effortless... compared to the good old days of grinding, grinding, grinding while a file processed.

Readers of this blog might recall this drawing from several years ago. Yes, it was bumped and it does seem like forever since I began this book. That's why getting the finish art done seems so nice.

I must change my mind on colors at least 7 times for every item, so it's a good thing its digital.

January 7, 2011

Cookie in the Book Club!

Imagine my delight to discover that my book 'One Smart Cookie' made it into the Scholastic book club! I had no idea. And of course, the artist is always the last person to know anything in publishing... the absolute last.

So imagine my dumbfoundedness to open a letter from my publisher to find a fine fat royalty check. Disbelief... I thought it couldn't possibly be for me. It must be for some other artist and they got the bookkeeping wrong.

I searched through my files, wondering how best to return the check. But I discovered in the inscrutable royalty figures, that Cookie became a Scholastic book club book a few months ago! Nothing could amaze me more.

Thank you, Cookie!

Sequel anyone?

January 3, 2011

Onward & Upward...

Blogger's balk... that's what I've got. Not that it matters one little whit, but a tendency does arise where commitment of thoughts to keyboard seems immaterial.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch I've been busy drawing, drawing, drawing, writing, drawing, erasing, erasing, re-writing, re-drawing, re-drawing and filling the Christmas chore list.

Whew! Glad that's done...

Drinking: just a few last malingering draughts of eggnog remain to see me through to the bright new promise of Spring.

Looking at: HDTV - a regular feast for the eyes! I marvel at the scenes from travel documentaries, movies in exotic locales. It's a low-cost holiday for sure. I'll never pay for cable again...

So far I've enjoyed movies from New Zealand, Africa and the U.K. I think it's already been established that actual travel is beyond the budget of a successful children's book author and illustrator, so why not just enjoy the movies instead?

Way too many scribblings for my own good. It's a self induced conundrum though, and the responsible artist simply cannot help themselves in this regard. Why should we anyhow, it's what we do.

Drawing: Hopefully all sorts of fun stuff! Things too numerous to mention. The mighty new Mac continues to astonish and delight with speed and efficiency.

Onward & Upwards with the Arts!

p.s. Artwork is from the December High Five from Highlights...