Friday, December 28, 2012

Craft project: painting the birds

We all have our own quirks and proclivities and personal touches. I like weird stuff. Now, everyone has different sensibilities when it comes to weird stuff, myself included. I like to decorate with what I assume people would think of as weird stuff. I like frogs and lizards and turtles and apparently my new thing is birds. I have them all over the studio / office / living room. Most of them are probably supposed to be in a garden or a child's toy box, but, well, I'm not much of a gardener. So, yeah, I have garden statuary and toys standing in as knick knacks in my living room.

Basically, I like kitsch, and I decorate with kitsch.

And since I was done coming home from work and finishing up the holiday calendar — well, I suddenly had free time again! I know, it always seems novel to come home from work and not have to work on something. Leisure, who knew?

Anyway, after catching up on the last 5 episodes of the now cancelled Leverage and probably 7-10 miscellaneous hours of tv watching, well, I had to pry myself away from the facebook and do something (besides sleeping).

As it turns out, I had a little home dec project to finish. My vcr/dvd player died in the beginning of December, so, there was some consternation over hooking up the replacement and having the correct number of cables and looking at diagrams and attaching the right cable to the right slot between the new dvd player, the cable box, and the television. Apparently, in order to watch a dvd you need to have a degree in engineering...

Anyway, one of the cords was too short, and I had to rearrange things, and it was weird looking. So, eventually I was standing there in Target while Christmas shopping and bought myself a little stand for the tv to sit on so that the tv could be in the middle of the spot for the tv again...
Before: the original configuration
 Middle (the new dvd player) (above)
After (below)
So, of course, now there's more space for knick knacks, boo-yah! And by knick knacks I mean the birds, the turtle, the frogs, and the lizards.

I like to buy bird, frog, and reptile decorations that look realistic. Occasionally, I buy things that I think just need a new coat of paint, because I'm crafty like that. So, my post holiday I-did-it-for-the-fun-of-it project was to paint a couple resin birds I had bought that I thought needed a do-over with paint.

So, with some craft paint, a knowledge of bird plumage, and some satin and matte varnish:

 So, now I have 3 yellow warblers (2 females, 1 male) and a chickadee on a pine cone in my menagerie of creatures.
Oh, and the chickadee has a home too : )
Someone needs to make sure the plastic iguanas behave themselves.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday (and perhaps some post holiday relaxation or maybe a craft project) and have a happy new year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Cookies 2012

This year's Christmas cookie making expedition was divided into 2 parts. At 2am this morning I made the dough, cut the cookies and baked them... And then when I got up from a brief 5 hour nap — I frosted the cookies (a 3 hour process, complete with a trip to the grocery store for the can of frosting I was pretty sure I had bought but could not find).

116 cookies in 22 colors...

Have a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tales from the lost weeks of December...

Yes, I know, I missed a few weeks... I've been working on the illustrations for the calendar.
I essentially have 2 weeks to finish 4 illustrations. Yes, ha! I know.
So, anyway, I will be here:
a lot...
Because that's my office / studio / living room where I spend more of my non-sleeping, non-working, waking hours. And in the next 2 weeks I will be there a lot illustrating.
Yes, I know, it's a busy place. I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, get your Christmas shopping done, get your holiday baking done. Maybe clean a little, make sure you have the decorations up, and be ready to relax come December 26... I know I will.

In the mean time you can check out the pictures I've finished:
bear ride
follow your heart
raccoons & the refraction tree
summer flight
owls & ghosts
the rainy fox

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November? You were barely here...

November is one of those months that just zips in and out, or so it seems... So, did you vote? Of course you did. I did too. I always do. 
The polling place is about a mile from my house, and I have a history of showing up at the wrong times (when I don't have to stand in line for 20 minutes is when I consider it to be the right time)... so, instead of showing up:
 when it opens - people on their way to work are there then...
 9am-11am - people who run errands and shop are there then...
 noon - lunchtime - everyone is there then...
 after 3pm - school is out, workplaces begin to close...

So, sometime shortly after 1pm seemed like a safe option. Ha! I stood in line with 100+ other people for 45 minutes.
For the record: I'm a democrat, I've always been a democrat. So, you know, in the 3 whole minutes that it took me to actually vote — I filled in the circle next to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Would have taken less time if the lead in the #2 pencil hadn't been broken. Yes, we have scantron style ballots. No levers, no punches. Just a bunch of adults filling in circles on a piece of paper.
Anyway, that's done.

Are you still reading this? Good. Because that last paragraph wasn't the end of the world, and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my political leanings before... 
Anyway, November, I hardly know ye as a month, because you fly by every year while I'm trying to wrap up a bunch of illustrations. Yes, I have 6 illustrations to finish for the calendar — and I only managed to totally change my mind on a couple of them at the last minute and totally start over from scratch, ha!

So, in all honesty, there's nothing that looks super exciting about the sketch phase. Plus, my current sketchbook sat in the trunk of my car and I pulled it out because I ran out of sketchbooks, and well, the paper is kinda lumpy. It's usable, but warped... the usable part is the important part. So, yes, sketching and scanning and inking scan print-outs is what I have been doing fiendishly for the last 2-3 weeks, when not sleeping or cleaning.

I finished these back in June - for father's day.

It was interesting to take renderings that I had done at a certain scale and blow them up to fill in the details. Technically, it's something I do all the time, up until I started these - I hadn't drawn any birds that were quite that big.

I have some other bird portraits on the docket, but that's all on hold until I finish the calendar. So, I guess I should get to work finishing those pictures, and then maybe Christmas will be here and done and over with, and I can finally just relax, right? Until it snows and I have to drive to work in it...

Anyway, Thanksgiving is tomorrow — so HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Picture Story: the rainy fox

Hey, have I mentioned the calendar? Yeah, I know. It's kind of my fixation for the until 25 December. So, one illustration was completed last week and now I've finished another.

The rainy fox started out as a sketch that I drew while waiting to get an oil change for my car... I scanned the sketch, printed it as a blue page, inked the blue page, and scanned that back in and made it into a file.
There's a decision that I made about this illustration: no outlines. In my pre-digital illustrating days — objects in pictures never had outlines and everything was rendered by hand with colored pencil... somehow when pen & ink enters into the picture - there end up being outlines, and I decided that this picture would be outline free — so I "blocked" my picture so that it had no outlines. Blocking is a fairly arbitrary process - you just fill the parts of the picture with color. And I guess color schemes are just kind of inherent, at least they are to me. Even if I'm not precisely sure what I think a picture should look like when done - I have a vague idea of the colors, tone, mood, and presentation... 
You know, the sky isn't aqua blue with white clouds, and the ground isn't peacock green.
Since it's the picture for November — the original sketch has some raindrops penciled in, and "the rainy fox" is scrawled across the bottom of the page. So, when it came time to fill in my blocked file — I picked photos of leaves on the ground and a scan of a watercolor that fit that mood and then superimposed them over my layer of color blocking.
The tree is always the truly labor intensive part of the picture. I select some of my digital photos of tree bark and manipulate them in photoshop to turn a couple photos into a full tree.
So, once I have the colors the way I want them, and the layer overlays of photos or paintings for texture or effect — then it's time to print that image in order to draw over it with prismacolors.
I started by coloring in the details on the fox.
And then I gave the tree the illusion of dimensionality...

 And then it was time to color in the clouds and add the rain...
So, in the end, what started as a sketch becomes a full color illustration: