March 27, 2011

The blossoms are just beginning

It's that time of year again... cherry blossom time. The rain drops blurring the blossoms made for a nice touch.

The steps of my favorite cafe were seeped in atmosphere... in other words it was raining.

Ye olde trusty Schwinn made yet one more trip to the brick pathways. I'm on the lookout for a new bicycle. The choices are so complicated. Perhaps a Trek Allant... which seems to be a nice bike.

It will actually be better in a week... the blossoms are just beginning.

March 25, 2011

Did this printer explode?

Did this printer explode? Or did I just print out a set of soft proofs?

In either event, it can be FUN to finally print out full sized proofs.

I guess for a digital artist the term 'proof' can be thought of as proof that the work actually does exist. That's saying something, I think, after spending weeks just fiddling around in the digital realm. In any case, it's fun to actually lay hands on some real art on paper after making it all on the computer.

I am just thrilled with the color fidelity of the prints I get from my Canon Pixma Pro9000. They look verily like the screen colors. I'm also just thrilled with refilling the cartridges myself for $1 a pop.

Thinking about the whole process of making books, I think aside from the magic of creating art from a blank page, I think a close second in realm of magic is the actual transformation of a book into a REAL object... printed on real paper.

I'm not sure that these ebooks can make the same claim.

March 23, 2011

An unexpected surprise...

An unexpected surprise arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon. What could it be? It was a lovely memento sent from Highlights to thank me for being one of their artists! As someone who never wins awards, it actually is very nice that someone appreciates my efforts.

After all the rejections, neglections, remainderings and bumps on this rocky road of publishing joy, this silver plaque is very well received. So THANKS!

March 19, 2011

Evolution of a Cover

My first rough idea for the cover to my new book 'The 12 Days of Christmas in Washington' was to show Pike Place Market. I drew the two main characters looking out over the market. I drew more characters on the back cover. I dummied in the fonts.

But then I changed my mind. I decided to show an entirely different scene. This was a houseboat with Mt. Rainier in the distance and a Puget Sound scene on the back. Artists can be fickle... and we easily change our restless minds.

Yet again artistic indecision struck. The houseboat was quaint, but it wasn't Broadway, and covers need to appear on Broadway. I decided to show a skiing scene at Mt. Rainier instead. I also changed my mind about the back cover. I decided to show all the characters together on the back. Here is the rough drawing.

And finally, after all that indecision, we see the finish covers... front and back.

I used a new bright deep color scheme done in photoshop with a proprietary method of combining line and color... which I'm very happy with. Even though I didn't use these sketches for the cover, I did use most of the drawing on an interior scene. I often recycle drawings like this... sometimes even using sketches out of dummy books I've never had published.

March 12, 2011

Earthquake & Volcanoes

Here's thinking about the people of Japan and hoping that they pull through. Living in an earthquake zone, as I do, I watched the news with horror.

It is so unsettling to see the news footage and try to imagine the stories behind the pictures.

Seattle had a pretty good rumbler 10 years ago, so we're not due for a while. Maybe that's just wishful thinking. The thing about earthquakes is that they exist largely as a form of paranoia. There's never any warning... just anxiety.

I guess Mt. St. Helens is sort of the American 'sister disaster' to Japan's disaster. But at least with a volcano, it gives plenty of warning.

This painting is from my book, 'The Dragon Painter'.

March 8, 2011


Favorite movie of the week: Bye Bye Monkey with Gerard Depardieu. Set in lower Manhattan in the early 80's, this movie is a weird combination of Andy of Mayberry, Fellini and Curious George. The scenes with the World Trade center are incredibly spooky and surreal... in retrospect.

Favorite book of the week: The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan-Harr. I guess I'm a sucker for any book about art. But the way this one was written, it was hard to put it down. I think the author's use of the declarative sentence is revealing.

Favorite Photoshop brush: The pastel brush! Would it be asking too much to dedicate a book entirely to this tool?

Today's picture is a scene from the forthcoming book 'The Dancing Clock', which I did the illustrations for.

March 4, 2011

What color should the sky be?

All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy. But at least it allows Jack to finish up some looming deadlines... hopefully.

Here is a nearly finished bit of art from the new book. It's so enjoyable as a digital artist to decide to change one's mind. I wonder if I should make the sky pink instead?