Saturday, February 25, 2012

Picture Story: snow hootenanny

 "snow hootenanny" is another image that I created for the calendar. I actually began the original sketch in August whilst sitting at the Art Walk and biding my time. So, one would think that maybe it would have been finished as an illustration in a timely fashion... nah.
Like all the calendar graphics for this year - this one came right up to the deadline as well.

So, this is the original sketch.

And, as per the usual, I scanned the sketch, converted it to a blue page, printed that out, inked it, and scanned it back in to Photoshop and began editing it for fills...

 However, I was not enamored with my owl.  It was just too belabored and stiff and trying to be symmetrical... So, I printed out a light copy of my trees and sketched some new owls over top of that.  And then I scanned that sketch, edited it, and printed it out so that I could color it...

The thing that I remember most about coloring the owls is that I was watching "My Soul to Take." Yes, heh-heh, while I was coloring a family of owls for a whimsical owl illustration I was watching a horror movie.  It happens a lot, as that is my preferred genre of movies.
So, anyway, I colored my owls and scanned them, and cut the scan all during the span of that movie.

Now, I needed some trees. I suppose I could have just colored the bark by hand. But that isn't what I had in mind.  In the spring, summer, and fall, I go into town and wander around and take all manner of photos.  And as I've mentioned before, I photograph all sorts of things - not necessarily with the intent that those are glamorous photos that need to be printed out and hung on the wall - but because I can use the content to fill in some part of a future illustration.
So, the owls are sitting on sycamore branches via the magic of photoshop: layer rotation and the rubber stamp tool. Yes, this is what the file tends to look like when I'm creating a fill from a photo (or several photos).

overcast orchid rain
The picture needed a background. So, I selection one of my watercolor paintings, and added the digital scan as a layer.  This was one of the salt on watercolor / gouache paintings - so it has both the salt crystal effect and dabs of white gouache spattered across it. Overall, it looks kinda snowy, so it was perfect.
Anyway, I added it to the picture and then adjusted the color to something more bluish - because I wanted the picture to have a cool wintery tone.

The next step was to add snowflakes.  Now there are actually 2 separate layers of snowflakes in this picture.  The snowflakes at the top of the picture were derived from all the snowflakes I design for Christmas cards. In fact, the layer used in this picture came from the file that I make the snowstorm backgrounds.

Now, the snowflakes on the bottom of the picture — and yes, there is actually a layer of snowflakes super-imposed over the bottom half of the picture — came from a different source: Winterwood.
Yes, the picture I used as the graphic for February on the calendar 2 years ago, which, yes, is named after the Don McLean song — that I happen to be very fond of. Anyway - I made a layer of snowflakes for the bottom of that picture - and decided to use them in "snow hootenanny" too.
So, all those parts come together to make the whole: sketches, drawings, salt on watercolor painting, photo walks, scary movies, colored pencils, ink pens, and snowflakes...

Monday, February 20, 2012

4 random things...

macro shot of the living room carpet | frost on the rear window 
me | paper hearts

I'm trying to be more spontaneous and concise, I guess. It's February, it's chilly outside - too chilly to do anything, so I'm stuck indoors. And this last Friday I finally got around to working on the project that involved making art out of used tea bags... it was kind of a spontaneous project, since I had no real idea of how it would turn out. It turned out pretty cool in my own estimation.

Enjoy your President's Day : )

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Picture Story: calla lilies & tree swallows

Of all the pictures I have ever created, this one has always been my favorite. Shh, don't go telling my other pictures, they'll be all jealous and stuff.

With the exception of the birds — I drew the sketched the entire composition... and then followed the process of converting the sketch to a blue page, inking that, printing out a color fill and then coloring that with colored pencils, and well, a whole bunch of editing... you know, that same paragraph I type up virtually every time I explain how I translated a sketch into an illustration.

Yes, this was once just an outline on a white sheet of paper, before it was an entire production combining a digital scan of a painting, a digital scan of a colorized print-out of my calla lilies, and a digital scan of my drawings of tree swallows.  The tree trunks and the leaves were done with photoshop filters - as this picture pre-dated me owning a digital camera (otherwise I surely would have photographed some tree bark).

Anyway, there are 2 things I remember most vividly about this picture.
One is that I re-edited the calla lilies about 3 times, because there was something that I just didn't have right about the outline around them - and actually ended up mostly painting in the outline in photoshop until I was happy with it.

And the other is that the tree swallows were the first set of birds that I simply drew out on bristol - absent of any actual composition, to scan and cut.  Back in the olden days - when I created an illustration I drew the entire thing on one sheet of paper by hand... this was really the first time I drew the parts separately and put them together.  These were literally the first bird graphics that I meticulously removed from a white background in photoshop.

It's a strange thing to remember - but it's what springs to mind the most when I look at this image - as it was a point in a learning curve.

Anyway, calla lilies & tree swallows has always been one of my favorite illustrations, albeit simply for the visual.  It's intricate choreographed chaos.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I made this picture.  I made it first by standing outside somewhere in the country presumably some morning, and then I enhanced it on my computer... because really, without some digital device - this image does not exist.

I think images tend to stand for themselves, so as I type this I cannot really see the purpose of explaining the image. I think it's self evident.  I also think that people can read into or take away whatever they want from a picture.

I'm particularly fond of this one.

I've been MIA from blog comments lately, I know. If it makes me a bad blogger, then so be it.
Life is busy sometimes.
I started a writing project 10-12 years ago, and I've been on it on and off for a while over the years. But recently is the most consistently I've stayed on it. I suppose in a way it's like going through an old box of mementos that was shoved away in a closet somewhere... although I remember most of it as clear as day.

So, if I haven't visited you in a while, it's probably because I'm sitting here at my desk staring at a word processing document and thinking about printer formatting for book pages... and grammar quirks, and possibly semi-colons — they're not just for winking emoticons.

Every year I think to myself that I should just go for it and work on this project. And slowly every year life creeps in and provides a distraction. I think, perhaps, this year will be different.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

the anonymous sale

8X8 inch photos are on sale at
browse here

"into spring"

Every now and then, I suppose in the hopes of selling something or perhaps amusing myself, I put things in my etsy shop on sale. And I make an announcement on a couple of etsy teams and on twitter... and I rarely, if ever, actually sell anything that is on sale. It's like an exercise in futility.

I think, sometimes, that blogging is like an exercise in futility as well. And that in a way we're all anonymous on the internet, and on some levels we'd like to connect with other people (let's keep it platonic) and then there are all the things we consider to be personal... keeping that separation between the two takes some kind of discipline. Disregarding it is often more fun, at least for the moment in which it happens.

The future is that nebulous place where we'll remember to clean the grout or better organize the office or regret things.

So, I make things, and I have a shop online, and I'm having a sale. The sale ends 2-14-2012, or whenever I get around to changing the prices back. Evidently Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday this year. Yes, I just walked over and changed the calendar to February. Things move slowly here like that sometimes. And yet time marches on regardless of my calendar.

It's still cold here, even though it is a mild winter. The days are shorter. And since I work midnights it's dark out when I leave for work and it's dark still when I'm driving home. Winter is always kind of a dark time. Truthfully, it's a lot of time indoors with artificial light, so, in a way it seems like an unreal period.

I like my television though. So I've really enjoyed Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, the Finder, Californication, and Archer. Yes, I'm 32, and that's my demographic. Plus, I think I have a slight crush on David Giuntoli. Yeah, he's dreamy. Don't worry, Jared Padalecki and Geddy Lee — I still have crushes on you too.
That's probably the over-sharing part that I'll consider regretting later... but won't. I'm a lazy crush, it's not like I write letters or visit fansites. Yeah, I watch the tv shows and I buy the albums, that's it.
So, anyway, if you enjoy passive entertainment - then check out those shows.

A few days ago I also got out my copy of "Atom Heart Mother" by Pink Floyd. In case you were unaware, Pink Floyd is the greatest band on earth. Yes, that's right: Pink Floyd is the greatest band on earth. Damn, they were awesome. I don't think I've listened to that record in a couple years. It's refreshing to just press play and be blown away by artistry.

Anyway, things may be a little lax here from time to time, as this is my blog about me on the internet. And as it turns out, my life is basically working a full time job, driving to and from work, the occasional spurt of cleaning around the house, taking pictures when the weather is nice, painting, drawing, illustrating, watching television and the occasional movie, buying groceries, doing laundry, feeding the fish, and trying to get to bed on time.
Oh, and I write too; and I don't exactly mean this blog. I mean fiction.

I started a project about 10 years ago. And now is apparently the time when I feel compelled to work on it. It's exciting to embark on a new endeavor, even if it's an old endeavor that you've been shuffling around in piles on the floor or desk for years.

So be well, and keep yourself entertained.