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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ann Arbor Easter

We made a quick trip to AA for Easter, which gave me two opportunities for playing in the sketchbook. The first was Sunday morning, as I was waking up and drinking my coffee and admiring objets d'art in my host's condo. The inspiration for this fishy is a carved wood object. I decided to make him colorful.

On the way home, I played my game of "capture-tiny-sketches-of-stuff-you-see-while-the-car-is-moving."
No, I was not driving. But this is a fun thing to do. Lotsa farms between here and Michigan.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Well, because really ...

...why shouldn't a young owl be able to enjoy himself in his swim trunks, with his ice cream, at the beach?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Goofin' off


OK, clearly I've done too much driving and homework this weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Locust With Attitude

Art school has built a bit of hesitation into me. I don't post as much in terms of projects-in-process because I know that we'll get to the critique day and I'll see everything I could've done differently (i.e., better), then wish I hadn't exposed the less-wonderful version here on PIH.

On the other hand, I've been a dull blogger lately, so what the heck.

This is part of a project in progress in which we show an insect with various expressions. This is the main illustration, but it'll also have some line drawings indicating the locust looking mean, happy, sad, etc. Notable about this image is that it was done entirely in Photoshop (not my usual way of working), but I think, as one of my teachers is wont to say, that "it doesn't suck!" (Pardon the crassness.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Got style?

Click on the image to view it in a larger format

When I started blogging here, back in February of 2006, I was really focused on making interesting sketchbooks. I don't know that I had a handle on what that would mean. At the time, I wanted to draw better, which meant improving the elegance of what went in through my eyes and out through my pen. I believe now that I dreamed of being one of those people who could sit for 10 or 15 minutes and produce a sketch worthy of publication in a magazine.

Yeah, well ... that ain't happening. Ha.

But though I couldn't have articulated it, I also wanted to capture moments and places that were important to me, and, above all, to build books that were fun to look at later. This latter idea means, I think, that every page had a little surprise on it -- a different technique, something suggesting a variety of ways of looking at the world.

Of course, because I am in many ways a slow learner, it took a while to understand what I was after, because every time I saw someone else's work, I would think, "Yeah, cool! That's the way I should work!"

Take for instance my friend Karen, whose blog you can see here. Karen documents a lot of things, but particularly her family life and her kids, through journal entries with elegant, tightly rendered drawings on sketchbook pages that are notable for their thoughtful layout.
Much later, I would stumble upon Mattias and his fanciful sketchbooks, filled with stunningly imagined creatures and cityscapes. And I would think, "Yeah, I wanna do THAT! I want to make up delightful images from my imagination!"

I also loved the idea of being one of those people who ALWAYS has her sketchbook out, grabbing quick drawings of whatever lies in front of me, then writing profound things in the margins. I know lots of people now, in art school, who are sketchbook-obsessed, and have pages of drawings from something like an endless stream.

But I don't really work in any of those ways. Or maybe I've borrowed bits and pieces from all of those, because in the end I refuse to commit.

What has emerged out of this are books that largely demonstrate an interest in The Page, and whose content reflects something that is visually or emotionally significant to me. The written word is usually part of this. And though these books don't really make for a reliable diary -- private, highly emotional information is rarely on view -- there is a sense of I-was-here-ness on the page.

Well, so, yesterday, I was "here." Here being at Fisher's Tavern, a favorite old haunt. Because it was still too chilly for outdoor drawing, and because I was wedging this page into a lot of other tasks I had going, I took reference photos, then created the page at home. I started drawing it with a pencil (shame!) to get everything in place, but I soon abandoned that for a brush pen. Brush pens force looseness, which is a fine reason to have one in your kit. Once I did that, I started having a lot more fun.

By the time all the ink was down, I was thinking about color, and about how much I have come to enjoy sneaking bits of collage into my work. So I tore through a catalogue to find the clipping that you see at the bottom of the page -- this side of the tavern's "driveway," if you will. Oh, and I needed a random bird on the page, so I drew that quick robin. He didn't originally have a worm in his mouth, but I was thinking about how, on Friday, I had to (gulp) cut up nightcrawlers for a robin at the raptor center.

What we have here, then, is a spread that reflects something real, something interesting in my life (the restaurant), but also takes a ton of creative license. It's not great art. But I like to think that if you were thumbing through my sketchbooks in person, you would come to this page and feel a frisson of delight. Short of that, I'd like to think that I would. :D

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Cowmadillo for Jennifer, Whom I Don't Know

So there I was, reading the morning news -- er, blogs -- when I come across my friend Don out in Colorado and his cows. Seems Don has an old friend who collects cows. So Don drew her a couple of sweet cows and scribbled us a fanciful tale, etc. etc.

Well, yes, I say to myself. Give Jennifer a cow, if you will.
But did you consider giving her that rarer creature, the cowmadillo?

Armored and tiny, the herbivore cowmadillo possesses the good looks of an American dairy cow, the defense mechanisms of an armadillo, and the brains and daring of --- er, did I mention it has armor?

Well, so anyway, here it is, Don's Jennifer, for your collection: the cowmadillo. Betcha don't have one already.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Clean-up Duty

As we barrel toward the end of the school year, I've been revisiting and revising earlier projects. I always liked this assignment, though the version that was my "final" for class was really never final. And maybe this isn't, either, but it's a lot closer.

Background: The assignment was to do a really abstract caricature of someone for a magazine like Rolling Stone. The image had to be hip, and done in this style created (I assume) by this artist name David Cowles. We also had to create the facing page design, where the headline for the story would go.

Since last year was the centennial of Mark Twain, I decided to go a little retro with my topic while trying to stay current with the look. I'm pleased with how it ultimately came out. If I were really ambitious, I would also write the article that goes with the images.

Maybe not today.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Cute on Four

Whenever I go out to the raptor center to volunteer, I drive past a large alpaca farm where lots of woolly creatures graze and hang and beg me to stop and draw them. But I never do, because it's not my farm.

Last weekend I made time to hang out for a couple of hours at Lake FarmPark, a working farm where you can get up close to creatures and farm processes and begin to understand the great American family farm tradition. (Which, cynic that I am, I have to mention is of course evaporating rapidly.)

Anyway, I recently had been reading a couple of inspiring posts over at Roz Wound Up on the topic of direct sketching of animals. It gave me the yen to draw beasts in ink. Positive side effect: I got to cuddle with a month-old lamb, who sucked on my fingers and wagged her little tail and generally was so cute that I practically hid her under my coat and made off with her. But of course I didn't.

These drawings aren't particularly good or plentiful; it was really quite cold that day, and my fingers were freezing and I really just wanted to go inside and look at piglets. (Which I did, which you will see.) But we all need to do more direct observation drawing, don't we? We do!

Oh, and in case you were wondering ... that one alpaca on the left page there is not a poor three-legged creature. She's just a creature whose back right leg I forgot to draw.