Sunday, January 8, 2012

Picture Story: fox trot forest

Every year for Christmas I make a calendar. It's the gift that I give to all my relatives. Last year (and by last year I mean 2010) — I was more organized about getting it done for whatever reason... this year? Not so much. It's funny, because I've made one every year for at least the last 6 years. So, you'd think in the first week of December I wouldn't be looking at my sketchbook and computer and thinking "oh, shit."

Yeah, I had one graphic done: fall fantasia
I finished it in September... and actually, every year I have the designated sketchbook that all the general ideas go into. And I drew my little chart somewhere in the back pages:

And things get sketched in, and things get erased, and new things get sketched in... and sometimes this thing isn't that accurate by the time the calendar has actually been produced. Because a lot of it was mocked up in August.

I actually drew the background of this picture a long time ago. And I think when I did I had a different idea of how it was going to look and how I was going to execute the illustration. I think the sky was supposed to be pink, and that I was going to fill in the trees with birch bark. There was probably supposed to be leaf litter on the ground - and I was going to print it out and do an impressionist style of painting of leaves - probably in red or red-orange tones... the entire picture would have a poppy & warm cast.

Instead, I sketched in a fox and a running figure in a cape. I'm sure I was thinking "little red riding hood." But as you may know, it was a wolf, not a fox... I was also thinking etsy cliches. So, yeah, it's a fox, not a wolf. And, yes, the hooded figure has conveniently run almost off the picture plane thus negating the need to draw hands or a face...
Anyway, I scanned the sketch, converted the graphic to a blue page, printed it, and inked it. People that use pens with nibs and ink wells may shriek in horror. Yup, mechanical pens. They make consistent lines. I've also never 'spilled' one all over anything, heh-heh.

In the course of a year, I take a lot of inane photos... at least when I die and someone finally looks through all these things, well, the excitement factor just isn't going to be there. Yes, uh, it's another picture of tree bark. Yes. There's a method to the madness though. I took those mundane, questionable, and inane photos with the intention of using them in bits and pieces somewhere in some illustration... not print them off, frame them, and hang them on a wall.
So, I filled in my trees with birch bark. And I hemmed and hawed and finally picked just the right photo of leaf litter and got it situated... and then hemmed and hawed some more until I had the sky picture that I wanted. And then there was some layering and some big blurry fills, and maybe a color adjustment or ten, and some layers were merged... And yes, my birch forest finally had a ground and a sky. And then I filled in the fox and the hooded figure with some color and printed that out...

Then I take my prismacolor pencils, sort through them until I have the colors I need or think that I need - and I color over the print out.
Of course, once that's done (5 December 2011) then I scan in my colored print out and make any necessary adjustments...

fox trot forest

Of course, at the time there were still 10 more illustrations to finish in 17-20 days depending on when my family was actually planning on doing Christmas. Ha ha ha...

It's amusing to reflect though, and watch everything come together when deadlines are fast approaching. Suddenly decisions are easier to make. Things don't get to just drag on or "I'll do it later." As it turns out - later is now.

I suppose this is why some people buy presents or give people money or gift cards at Christmas. But that's just not who I am. I'm not a religious person, and my family isn't particularly religious either. Christmas is a time when we get together and actually spend time with each other. And yes, it's about gifts and food...

I'm not religious, but I also don't spend X amount of dollars per person or budget for Christmas gifts or whatever. There's a fine line between being non-religious and profanely materialistic. I'm also the weird one in the family, so in addition to the calendar everyone gets an assortment of candy, and a lot of people got socks this year. Sometimes the dumbest gifts come in the handiest - like when it's been a while since the socks and underwear have been washed, and you just need one more pair. And really, who hates candy? Well, besides my overly picky sister? Everyone can blame her for all the chocolate and the mint. I was standing there in the store with a bag of truffles that were flavored like pumpkin (or something else really questionable) but I put them back... because even I couldn't pull the full on Grandma Duda and buy chocolates with pumpkin filling. She was an adventurous lady ; )

So, I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday - whatever you do with it... now I just have 10 more pictures to write about.


tinajo said...

Chocolates with pumpkin filling huh? That sure sounds very daring! :-D

Love the illustration! :-)

Bob Bushell said...

I love the drawing.

R. J. said...

What a beautiful drawing. I wish I could do that. I live in a forest with the occasional red fox trotting by, so it speaks to me. I always wish I could capture the moment because they don't stand and pose for my camera.

Anne said...

Beautiful pictures! enjoy your sunday afternoon:)

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

Your Christmas sounds alot like mine. I made, er, knitted my gifts this year.

Love the illustration, Sarah. You are so talented. :)

Out on the prairie said...

I have joined in on a few calenders, looks and sounds like an exciting gift.

Hilary said...

That's the best gift of all.. those from your heart. You're sharing what you love to do best.. and you do it so well.

Cloudia said...

Thank YOU
for finding me!

That fox conveys so much - very lovely.

I like your work-

Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

Poppy said...

Hi Sarah, thanks for popping by my page, lovely to meet you:) Glad you enjoyed what you saw, I love taking photos of anything!! I love your drawings, I will visit your page again soon :)

Kelly said...'re so creative. I love this! Matty and I made pumpkin bread with Reese Peanut butter cups on top (which melted down into the pan when baking and coated the bread with a layer of chocolate and pb)...and it was awesome, but I don't know about chocolate filled with pumpkin! :-)

S. Etole said...

Wonderful sketch and I enjoyed the process you described.

TexWisGirl said...

that's beautiful! you're so creative!

Happy Little Trees Studio said...

Cool to see your process!!

Frannie said...

Fabulous post. Your drawing is wonderful and totally fun.

Too funny,I give socks to family members too....filled with treats.
They think it's funny, but love it.

Happy New Year!