Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Trip to the Zoo!

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a special tour at the zoo. Our ABQ Zoo is a fairly small one, and I live quite close (I used to live about 3 blocks away, I miss those days!) and I wish I got over there more often than I do. I think I'm making it a mid-year resolution to go more often, right now.

It was a gorgeous spring day and I was with friends, it couldn't have been more perfect. Although I mainly took pictures this time around (I usually try to do some sketching while I'm there), it was one of the most rewarding and exciting trips to the zoo for me, EVER. But, I'm not suppose to discuss the details online… so too bad for you guys, but wonderful for me and my memories. LOL

Brothers Kiska and Koluk at Inukshuk Bay

My long lost family… look, it's me, the one that's as tall as all the others while sitting down!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The New Mexico Book Co-Op

I vaguely knew of the NM Book Co-Op before this meeting. It was something I heard mentioned or saw in e-newsletters—but this was the first time I've attended one of their meetings, and I was really impressed.
Okay, it was held at a local Golden Corral Restaurant, but I'd never been to one before and had little idea what to expect… it was kind of like a food theme park. LOL
The Co-Op had a private room for the meeting though, and once everyone had had a chance to eat and socialize for a bit, the meeting began. There was general news and open discussion, mostly about the Tucson Festival of Books. Apparently this is an amazing event—people that had attended only had wonderful things to say. I also got an earful about promoting your books in general—little did I know I'm supposed to have a box of my own books in the trunk of my car at all times (I have to admit, I've missed out on quite a few sales in the past year just because I was only carrying one copy of my book on me) and sell sheets.
The theme for the meeting was 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Book Signings'. Local authors Anne Hillerman and Don Bullis, plus local indie bookseller and 'author herder' Ollie Reed. They all had personal takes on the subject, the the overall messages were: be prepared, work/schmooze/SELL (don't just sit there and smile), find organizations and events that relate to your book–outside bookstores!, the more you say yes—the more contacts & connections you make, send out your own press releases, and oh yeah, BE PREPARED. ;)

Don Bullis, Anne Hillerman, and Ollie Reed talk about Book Signing Events
The upcoming meetings are on book sell sheets and book production—one of which I know nothing about and one of which I could actually contribute to the discussion. I am definitely looking forward to getting more involved with the Co-Op.

*I also entered my little picture book in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

MasterWorks of New Mexico: The Judge

What an honor to be asked to judge a Show that I've been involved with almost every year since I've been in New Mexico. I had the pleasure of going in and seeing all the accepted miniature work yesterday—then had to the challenging task of handing out awards.
Don't let anyone tell you it's easy to judge other people's work, it's not. Although, that being said, I think I may have had it a little easier than the larger works judge. Miniatures have strict rules & regulations against which to be juried into the show—I was a juror back in 2011, that's also a tough job! But the jurors did a fabulous job selecting deserving works to be included in this year's display.
There are 7 categories: Oil, Acrylic, Water Media, Drawing/Printing, Mixed Media, Colored Pencil and  Three-dimensional—each of which I had to award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, plus 8 honorable mentions, one Best-In-Show, and several awards for excellence, detail, etc.
It was a daunting afternoon, but more than rewarding for the honored recipients—it was a rich and inspiring experience for me. I walked out of there brimming with ideas and motivation to push myself more in my own work, experiment, and perhaps even branch out into other media.

I'm looking forward to the reception next Friday, April 4th 5-8pm… and to the next year of ideas and experiments and new miniature work to come!

Signing documents while the show is hung.
p.s. I'm also teaching my first workshop during/at the show. It will focus on mixing colors, blending, and burnishing with colored pencil—specifically how these relate to working in miniature. I'm nervous and excited for it, wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Illustration Friday: SPARK

Hey, so there didn't seem to be a new word from the folks at Illustration Friday this week, so I'm totally going to use this edited piece as my submission for SPARK. Ideas can come from the tiniest sparks of inspiration—keep an eye out and you'll see them everywhere!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Process: Personal Work

I recently finished this new piece as my assignment for the Austin SCBWI Conference. I signed up for the conference a bit too late to have completed the piece BEFORE the event, but art director Laurent Linn was kind enough to invite all attendees to submit a revised or new piece, via email, a few weeks after.

I've also been thinking about experimenting with my style, and this piece gave me the perfect opportunity to try some new ideas. Those of you that know, know I LOVE colored pencil. One of the biggest downsides to working with CP is the time it requires, especially in my chosen approach of burnishing (full paper coverage). I decided to try working at a smaller scale and enlarging my pencil work, to bring out the hidden textures in my usually ultra-smooth looking work.

Concept & character sketches. I didn't have a lot of time to really develop them as much as I would have liked, and I kept second-guessing myself… I eventually decided I just had to go with it and see what happened.
Background, completed separately. It's about 30% of the final size (70% reduced scale). The spot I pulled out isn't even 100%, but it gives you an better idea of the hidden texture that comes out with enlarging.
Characters are about 50% reduced scale. I'm naturally drawn to line work, but I hoping to incorporate the line work in future pieces in a fully digital way, as seen below.
I did single line drawings are random sizes and scaled them as needed to find a composition that worked for the story/piece. These are done in black colored pencil, which adds to the texture/grittiness of the line (although I'd like to try some regular graphite lines, just to see the difference). I them remove the white paper and digitally edit the line colors as needed (mainly via blending layers in photoshop).

So,what do you all think? I'm enjoying this direction, hope you are too!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SCBWI-NM Illustrator's Meeting, March

Last night we had our third local SCBWI-NM Illustrator's group meeting of 2014!

At 5pm, we started with dinner and socializing at a local cafe. Our SCBWI Schmooze is held on the same night, so writers and illustrators got to mingle a bit while we noshed and hung out—it was quite the full-house. We're always adding tables to our tables as more people arrive. It was kind of a shame that we illustrators had to leave the party early, but it was worth it…

At 6pm, the illustrators headed across the parking lot, to local framing shop, FRAMED, where Scott Paden was ready to chat with us and answer questions about framing. Scott talked about some basics, old and new framing ideas, as well as ideas for framing pieces to sell vs. striaght-up neutral gallery framing. We talked about shoo sing matte colors—close but not too close (especially with whites/creams) and accenting with a bold colored double matte. Six illustrator members made it out for the evening.

Local illustrators soaking up the framing information.

Scott Paden, Artist, Designer, and Framer.

An awesome example of varieties of framing options for a single piece, from simple to excessively elaborate.

The Schmooze for the evening centered on Social Media, as introduced by local ember (and soon-to-published) Veronica Bartles. There are so many social media options out there, and the idea to keep in mind: you don't have to do it all. Look at the options and pick one or a few that work for you. Some of Veronica's favorites: Twitter (fast & easy way to connect to industry people + chats), as well as owning your own web presence (personal website), and blogging. She also highlighted the advantages/disadvantages of having a Facebook Author page vs. having a personal account.

Veronica Bartles discussing Social Media for authors and illustrators, at local bookstore, Alamosa Books.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Random Insta-Inspiration

For the last year or so, I'm been screen-capturing instragram photos I like and saving them in a folder I call Art&Inspiration. I can't say that I've gone back to look at the folder very much, but this week I did and I pulled out three, recently posted, quote-based images that stood out to me:

Wow. They all pretty much speak for themselves, but they each stood out for a different reason that resonates with me at this moment in my life.

Look at all the failure Abe Lincoln went through, over and over and over… and the man could not be kept down. That list is a great reminder for me, when I start to beat myself up about not being more successful at this or that or anything in my life right now.

I've also been working very hard to be more active and healthy, starting back in August 2013. I think I've finally found a nice balance of various practices and I can confidently say I'm in the best shape of my life. *I may never have a stomach like the one in the picture (I just like cookies and ice cream too much), but I've noticed the changes, ever so slowly, over these last 7 months—the good results DO come. Also, this philosophy applies to career goals as well, so… yeah—that too.

Lastly, there is nothing so important to me as my dreams. Big ideas. Something to strive for. And gorgeous calligraphy—that too. Just love that. ;)