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Vision

bVisionfinishsmprint

I woke up with an image reflected on my retinas. I had an overwhelming urge to realize the vision.  It had to be dreamy-loose but also had to adhere to my vision.

I began with a watercolor sketch, but the color was too vibrant.  It needed to be somber. I took a photo of the watercolor and opened it up in Photoshop, then decided to desaturate it.  I painted a very simple back round so the bird-girl takes the spotlight.  A new series is born.

The watercolor sketch:

bbird

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The Light

blight A snapshot from a dream-mare.

Watercolor Wednesday

bhand

Either Give Me A Hand, or Get me outta here!:)  Not sure which.

I began with two reference images; a woman in a fancy ball gown and an image of a child cheerfully reaching for something.  I fully expected to use the reference very loosely, as a springboard for a sweet ethereal scene.  But it quickly shifted into sometime else.  I went with it. Resistance was futile.

Watercolor Wednesday

waiting copy

Waiting in the wings.

Creative Writers

 

As promised, and with pleasure, I bring you the thoughtful, funny and imaginative stories prompted by this series of watercolor illustrations on your left.

Thank you writers!  I’m charmed and impressed, especially since many of these writers are visual artists as well.

——————

From Helen:

I sat barely moving at the end of the pier.
Just looking, looking out
to a calm sea
to see if I could make sense of
what they’d told me.
To see if I could sense him close.
Had he really gone?

Gone for good that’s what they said.
They said he’d waded into the rough sea
to see if he could save her.
They said he couldn’t.
He didn’t.
He didn’t save himself from
the sea either.

I couldn’t sense him in the air
so I went into the sea
to see if I could sense him there.
I lay on my back,
head under the water,
holding my breath……
Eyes closed against the saltiness,
ears open to any sound of him.

What’s that pounding ?
Getting louder!
Only the pounding of my own heart
as it forces me to gasp for breath;
choosing life.
I didn’t get a sense of him.
Only a sense
that it doesn’t make sense.

From Cindy:

At certain times in our lives, we take a little inventory and try to figure out where we’re headed. Sometimes we discover we’re on the right path, and that we should keep moving forward. Other times, we realize that some things which we’ve refused to acknowledge, can no longer be refused.

It is here our heroine, one Nellie Pelagic, finds herself, at the age of thirteen. Her mother had told her, since Nellie was five years old, that her absent father was a Water Sprite. Nellie, an overly pragmatic Pelagic even at such a tender age, refused to believe such nonsense. And anyway, who wants to be different? Children are always cruel to those who are different. She didn’t even like the water.

It hardly mattered, she reflected, perched on a rocky outcrop at the edge of the sea. She didn’t have any friends anyway. Nellie was at her aunt’s house. Her favorite aunt, who was a painter! And she promised to teach Nellie to paint. Once that would have sounded so fun and exciting! But not now. It was the first time out of the house, her new home, since her mother died two weeks earlier. Cancer.                   Aged 46.

Her mother had never relented about the story, about her father. Her aunt seemed to know nothing about it, which further proved to Nellie that it wasn’t true. Her father simply didn’t love her enough to ever visit her, or send a note, or ask what she looked like. And now her mother was gone, too. She slipped off the rock and into the cold water, little caring what would happen next.

The heavy weight of her clothes pulled her down, and she did not struggle. And then something completely unexpected happened…

From Britta:

Whoever said you had to see clearly to find your way? Above me there are layers upon layers of atoms and molecules, softening the light, blending it with shadows. Here I see my world in blues, not grays. There are no uncertainties, just unanswered questions and longings. There isn’t fear, only a little sadness, a little bit of blue. If I rise above my water will I still fly as I do now, in the other blue?

From Hansi:

A teenage girl, rejected by all her peers for being a little “too intelligent”, sits by a lake pondering her lot in life. She accidentally falls in, and being unable to swim, quickly sinks to the bottom and nearly drowns. She is save by all the fishes, who think she’s the awaited messiah who will save Aqua-land, and restore it to it’s former glory before all them evil no-good Dry-landers took over. Well sure enough, she’s revived, imbued with super powers, and, as illustrated in your last painting, emerges from the waters and starts to wreak destruction upon the Earth.

or

Girl sitting by lake
Falls in
Floats to the top
Gets out, realizing nothing really happened.

 

Stylized Blonde

A fun watercolor sketch with a little urban style;)

Digital Painting Tutorial Part 3

Final “Spring”

Because Spring is part two of a four-part project, I had be sure that the choices I made for this piece will harmonize with the previous work.

I have a very clear vision of the overall project, and have decided to contrast the moods of the seasons greatly.  On the other hand, I will needed to organize specific consistencies.

They are:

*minimizing of neck and body

*some sort of collar appropriate to each season

*the same necklace representing nature’s hardships

*long hair with a life of its own

*a certain amount of dimension and texture in the back round

*a value gradient dark to light from bottom to top

*one element of disguise

*clear difference in position of the head and eyes reflecting the qualities of each season

(*perhaps a border when all four have been completed)

Below are the steps I took  to stylize Ms. Spring, ultimately  leading to the finish (above).

Digital Painting Tutorial/Spring Part 2

Okey Dokey, part two is mostly about the way I manipulated my photos to provide a back round and a dress for Ms. Spring.  There have to be myriad ways to deal with photos incorporated into digital paintings.  I’m simply revealing the way I went about it in this piece.  And, I have no problem revealing this to you.  I think that the photos in this context will get the job done better than my painting of said areas.

Four Seasons:Spring Tutorial

Spring, It’s the second in my Four Seasons project.  Last time with Digital Winter , I explored an overview of the digital painting via Photoshop layers.  The focus of Spring is painting the skin.  I’m using Photoshop CS4 and Wacom Intuos 4.  I’m still working on the finish, but here’s essentially, how I’ve  painted the skin thus far.

Digital Painting Tutorial

Above is a screenshot of the basic Photoshop underpainting of “Winter”.    Below is a visual tutorial of the painting process. Please feel free to ask any questions that may come to mind, since my text explanation is spare.

3×3 Illustration Annual #8 -I’m In It!

I’ve been entranced with  the  3×3 Illustration Annual  since I first discovered it one Saturday in Barnes and Noble.  Naturally,  I sat with it in the B&N cafe enjoying the eye candy more than my beverage.  My book wish list is always lengthy, but I bumped book title #1 and bought the Annual.  Since then, I’ve poured over the work, and offer it to young artists to demonstrate what’s going on in contemporary illustration.

Summer 2011 I received an email from Charles Hively informing me that one of the illustrations I submitted was chosen for the 2012 Annual, and I was to send a final jpeg for print.  The email came at a tough time for my family and my attention was elsewhere.  I sent off a jpeg and later worried that I’d sent an inferior copy…(I aways have multiples and I’m not so great at labeling them-that’s gonna change).

A few days ago,  the book arrived.  And while I will never be entirely pleased with any piece I make, I am honored to be included in this publication.  I’m still not sure which copy I sent, probably not the best one, but  C’est la vie.

Thanks Charles Hively and the judges.  Right now, I’m burning to make a new piece to submit sometime in the near future.

Stripes for Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday‘s prompt this week is stripes.  And, while my above entry is less an illustration and more a portrait, I couldn’t help myself.   I love to paint real people.   As my penance for not pushing the illustration angle, I decided to make watercolor my medium for this challenge.  My watercolor skills are well, not so hot.  And even though I smacked my hand when I reached for it, I confess to using opacity in the form of white watercolor in this. I know, I know watercolor is supposed to be translucent. There-in lies the beauty.  What can I say, I’m a layers kinda girl.

When I finished the painting, I had to scan it into Photoshop for cropping, and I did it again!  I picked up the highlights and messed with it some more.  Then, I found the black and white too strident and cold, so I sepiaed it up.

(original painting)                                                 (after digital enhancements)

That is my full confession.  I WILL try unadulterated watercolor again.  I want to,  but not before hiding my ever so tempting, gleaming tube of white.

Razzle Dazzle Rose

A little girl wielding a magic crayon with a lovely point, expertly sharpened by the built-in sharpener in the 64 pack… of Crayola’s, of course.

Fifteen Minute Hair

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I love to render thick manes of long hair.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’m familiar with them.  From age fourteen to thirty, I dragged around my own head of long heavy hair that reached nearly to my ankles.  Why, you may ask?  Couldn’t really tell you. I just…grew it.

It’s much more fun to saddle my characters with outrageous tresses than to actually wear them myself.  There is not however, any real secret to confide about how to render quick and easy digital Photoshop hair. There is however, a bit of a shortcut.  In a word, it’s a brush. A “hair” brush. Make a few of them. They’re really useful for getting the strands going, after you’ve laid in the values that forecast the shapes of the curls or bunches of hair.

I always work at least five times bigger than the print size.  *First -I lay in the shapes of the darks and lights *Second-I use my “hair” brushes or make more to fit the tresses. This creates many quick layers of hairs to build dimension.   *Third-I use a big round soft brush with low opacity and a cool color to “glaze” areas I want to push back  *Fourth-I use my “hair” brushes where appropriate, usually with a lighter warmer color  *Fifth-I use a small round brush and begin to draw each hair.  Sometimes I repeat steps 3 through 5 many many times until I achieve a messy organized chaos.  For me, that’s the look that works.

Lorica #3

The third illustration in my not yet written, middle grade novel.  So many projects, so little time:)

Katniss

Do book cover illustrations influence the way you envision a character before you read a book?  Does an actor cast as the character from your favorite book embody your idea of the character in a film?

My niece and I recently discussed these questions. We decided that we try not to allow an illustrator or casting director to change our vision of our favorite literary characters. So, as an illustrator, I’m turning the tables and presenting Katniss, the main character from The Hunger Games, the way I see her

Dianne, my wonderful niece, who turns twelve years old today, may not share my vision, but I can’t wait to find out what she thinks.  Dianne, this post is in honor of your birthday. You inspired it. Please think of it as a kind of a “post (Birthday) card”.   Let me know if my illustration looks at all like your vision of Katniss.    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

*Check out Wikimedia Commons to view how others see Katniss

Mysterious Lorica

There is a story behind this painting.  I posted this piece first on my Illustration Friday  page for the topic mysterious, but I its first obligation is to serve as an illustration for a story floating around in my head.  This story will convert itself into text after I have a few more illustrations worked out.  This is the second piece.  I’ve a third in the works.  You’ll see that one soon too. When this story fully unveils itself to me,  I will reveal it to you too.  Stay tuned.

Encounter with a Ladybug

Chapter 3

PAUL MOVES ON

Ah, what one must bear.  After the disheartening encounter with Malamar (who I may eventually forgive), I felt the overriding need to stretch my limbs and rest a bit. I commenced to lay directly on the floor, because my grandfather claims there’s nothing better for the back.  Just as I felt a true desire to drift off to sleep, a blur of vermillion passed before my eyes not two inches above my head!  As one might imagine, my interest was peaked.  My weary eyes fixed on a ladybug buzzing and circling above me, obviously signaling wildly for my attention.  Well, I mused,  finally someone who possesses the good taste and decency to engage in proper dialogue.  I paused politely, allowing the ladybug to catch her breath and introduce herself.  To my surprise I learned that my partner in verbal exchange was known as Paul. How very pedestrian of me to expect my companion to be a LADY bug.  Live and learn.  I may comment comfortably now, but I must admit that at the time I was indeed flummoxed and chagrined. It’s little wonder that Paul took exception to my ignorance and resumed his quest for a more sophisticated ear.

I am abashed.

To be continued….

PREVIOUS CHAPTERS:

Chapter 1

RAT CHAT

I like a nice rat.  Charming conversationalists  if you don’t mind the defensive tone.  I met a rat quite recently whose knowledge of subterranean culture was really quite extraordinary.  His opinions regarding  a great variety of issues, I found to be both informed and refreshing.  This particular rat also understood the importance of attentiveness in an engaging tête-à-tête.  As well-traveled as he was, he never for a moment hogged the conversation or took on airs.   A great shame my cat Princess did not share our camaraderie.  She was terribly rude, and I believe she caused him to take his leave prematurely.   It’s really too bad.  Apparently, Princess informed my mother of the encounter.   Mother  forced me to spend the remainder of the day indoors.  My little brother is a very poor substitute for such illuminating communion.

I am bereft.

Chapter 2

BUNNY FOOLERY

Never let it be said however, that I am a quitter, nor am I a complainer, therefore I sat myself down, took stock of my options and sought a suitable partner for an informative one on one.  Malamar, our resident bunny rounded the corner avoiding the attentions of my brother who was apparently in hot pursuit of Malamar, until the hideous theme of a television program, that my brother for some reason enjoys, became audible.  Brother was transfixed by the magnetic rays of the television; a largely sophomoric device.  I therefore, secured the opportunity to invite our comely lagomorph to a raucous discussion regarding the unspeakable practice of encasing miniature bunnies in chocolate in an effort to delight unsuspecting children with an Easter “treat”.

I myself have never sanctioned such a practice. Perhaps the topic was insensitive, because despite my attempts to put Malamar at ease by immersing myself in his cultural stance, Malamar continued on his course, overtly ignoring my invitations to commune.  I’m sure that he was able to hear me, due to the ample size of his ears. The evidence that perhaps Malamar took particular issue with my topic of discussion materialized in the form of small pellets that he left in his wake.

I am offended.

Portrait Of A Girl-Featured Artist Interview

Just in case you did not catch this interview of Leah on my Portrait of a Girl and Her Art  blog, I’m reposting it here, center stage.

Leah Olbrich is a fascinating young artist, and a wonderful young woman. Enjoy.

(Leah is featured in “Portrait of a Girl and Her Art”on page 43 and page 70).


8/5/2011

Leah was instrumental in literally putting “Portrait of a Girl” together. She helped write, design and layout the pages, so it’s  natural to pick Leah for the first blog interview.  I am so very proud to bring you up to date about Leah’s Master’s degree work in puppetry:

Elena:Why did you want to pursue a Master’s degree?

Leah:I have an undergraduate degree in illustration. I chose that major because I am compelled to draw, and illustration satisfied the drawing and experimental component of exploring quirky creatures and people in my work.  I decided to go to graduate school to take the quirky creatures and people to the next level and create them in three dimensions. By the time I got to the end of my undergrad work in art school, I felt I had just gotten my feet wet with the 3-D work. I decided it was important to try to find guided exploration in the 3-D realm and that became puppetry.

Elena: What is your definition of puppetry?

Leah: I’ve come to realize that my definition of puppetry is less the performance aspect but more the craftsmanship of building puppets.  

Elena: You would rather create the creatures and leave the performance to others?

Leah:I’m not one hundred percent, sure yet what I’ll want to do in the end, but things that I’m currently exploring are stop motion animation, special effects, character design and development, sculpture, and 3-D illustration.  Once you really start paying attention to how much “puppetry” is used in the art world, you can see just                                                                                                                                      how much you can do in the field.

Elena: Who are your heros of 3-D?

Leah:I love the Brothers Quay, Jan Svankmajer, David Michael Friend, the early work of Tim BurtonBrian Froud‘s work with Jim Henson, Red Nose illustration studio, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, and Ralph Steadman just to name a few:)

Elena: What would you like to leave us with?

Leah: I find that things are most interesting when they are imperfect in life and in art,  because you have to discover the beauty in them or define the beauty for yourself.  Beauty does not have to be beautiful.  It can be grotesque or grungy. In puppetry, this can be challenging because there is a desire for anthropomorphic qualities, but human movement is not always achievable nor desired.  You have to make specific decisions; should the creature be real, representational? It boils down to aesthetic style- perception, or how you would like the audience to perceive what they are viewing.  An example is Sesame Street where the puppets simply bop around and a marionette that moves as close as possible to how a real human or creature moves. 

Elena:Any advice for young artists?

Leah: Don’t be afraid to try a million materials.  Put you brain in your hands and let your hands do the thinking.

http://leahno.blogspot.com

G- rated Steampunk Mermaids

Very recently two illustrators whom I admire, inspired me to paint a steampunk piece for kids.  Now, I really dislike painting mechanical symmetrical elements, but I do enjoy the look of  shiny geometric details. So I decided to simplify, take it slowly, and allow Photoshop’s filters to do the heavy lifting. I also relied heavily upon layer style to lend me an outer glow and to bevel and emboss.

I did mention that I was taking this slowly. I’m clearly missing both overt Victorian and punk flavor here, but the only creatures not propelled by steam are the wind-up angelfish and the starfish.  I’ll get a little more hardcore next time.

Summer Bugs

As I scratched my first mosquito bite of the summer, I became entranced by the beauty of the buggy images on my tv screen…

I don’t remember what I was doing in 1996, but I missed the release of Microcosmos a gorgeous French film that certainly captured my imagination.  It dunked me right down into the clammy wild world of impossible looking and behaving insects.  The shapes, textures, and colors left me gaping while simultaneously making  me  aware that I needed to shut my mouth. I did NOT want to encourage squirmy flying things to find refuge anywhere near me.-Eww.

Anyway, the film sparked a “People Bug” series. Above is the first effort.

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